Home Terror - Up Close: 'It's time to change the conversation - domestic abusers must be called out'

UTV News Sarah Clarke - Up Close - Home Terror special
Up Close – Home Terror is a special investigation by UTV News reporter Sarah Clarke. Credit: UTV News

You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

This overused saying is a cliche for a reason. These stories are seldom, if ever, revealed.

But tonight on Up Close we show for the first time body worn video capturing domesticviolence.

It shows a husband under arrest after attacking his wife in their family home.

He scuffles with police, swearing repeatedly as they handcuff him.

The woman says he’s arrived home drunk. She’s been sleeping in their children’s bedroom and begs him not to do anything in front of them.

  • Watch the UTV News exclusive footage as we air special investigation: ‘Up Close –Home Terror’

Clearly distressed, she then goes on to explain in vivid detail how he drags her by the hairinto their room, throws her on the bed and tries to strangle her.

We are taken on a journey like a jury in a trial.

We hear the actuality of an officer describing the damage he sees. The children’s perfectlypainted playhouse in the garden in stark contrast to the destruction inside.

This latest technology is used by officers responding in real time to the horrifying reality of a rising number of these types of crimes.

Mark Hunter's arrest is captured in police bodycam footage released to UTV News. Credit: PSNI

And it plays a key role in securing convictions.

My producer and director Brendan McCourt secured this exclusive footage and finally theinterview with the survivor Jenny Hunter.

Her husband of eight years was convicted of assault, criminal damage and threats to kill.

We also hear from many other courageous and dignified contributors including the mother of Joleen Corr, Carol, whose daughter was so savagely beaten by her partner she was left in a vegetative state for 17 months before she passed away.

Michael O’Connor was then convicted of her murder.

Carol Corr speaks about the abuse her daughter suffered. Credit: UTV News

We reveal for the first time the perspective of a child who witnessed and experienceddomestic abuse and from a victim within the LGBT community.

And we reveal chilling new detail about the appalling double murder suicide inNewtownabbey in March last year of Stacey Knell and Karen MClean who were killed byKen Flanagan.

Karen’s son and Stacey’s boyfriend then went on to take his own life.

But a chance encounter with two elderly women in Belfast city centre when we weregathering opinions for the programme does not feature because they didn’t want to appearon camera.

The friends revealed to me the vicious assaults and controlling behaviour they’d enduredduring the course of their marriages.

One confided how relieved she was when her husband died and she was finally free. Theother said it took her years to leave her husband. She was in her 70s.

The meeting was brief but it remained with me.

It made me think how many other women will have had similar experiences but don’t want to share them publicly.

Those who did speak openly endured agonising ordeals and that’s before they even entered the criminal justice system.

Victims often blame themselves. And we as onlookers, sometimes unwittingly andsometimes explicitly, blame them also.

But it’s the abusers who need to be called out.

These stories are harrowing but they are also hopeful.

There’s been significant change in legislation and although long overdue it can only bewelcomed.

Now it’s time to change the conversations too.

  • ‘Home Terror’ Up Close Thursday 10.45 UTV