'He dragged me by my hair' - domestic violence victim speaks out as helpline calls soar

A woman who was dragged by her hair and beaten by her ex-partner has spoken out about the abuse in a bid to encourage more women to seek help.

Rosie - not her real name - was woken up one morning by her partner dragging her from her bed by her hair. Her partner was jailed and she is now living in a safe house.

Domestic violence charity Next Link is warning cases like Rosie's are not as rare as many might think.

The charity helps victims in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and has seen the number of cases soar since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Next Link has received 30 per cent more referrals in the past year and the charity is urging people not to be put off asking for help because of lockdown.

'I was unconscious'

Rosie's now ex-partner woke her up one morning by dragging her out of bed by her hair. As she struggled, he repeatedly "slammed her head into the wall and floor".

She said: "As I was fighting to get out of his grip he was banging my head on every kind of door frame.

"I tried to escape and he dragged me back by my hair and slammed my head in the door, until the point I was unconscious."

The attack, which happened in the first lockdown, left her with a fractured skull.

Rosie felt trapped not only by her partner but also by coronavirus restrictions. She somehow found it easier to have the man who was violent towards her at home so she could keep an eye on him.

She said: "Obviously I was scared of the pandemic, I was scared of the abuse and harassment from him, and in a weird way, me knowing where he was meant he couldn't tamper with my car or just let himself in. It's like a spider - if you can see where it is you're not scared but if you don't know where it is it could crawl on your face."

After the last attack, Rosie went to police.

She told ITV News West Country she was worried she wouldn't be believed.

She added: "I'm glad I did it. He was arrested the very same day. I wish I had done it sooner as the harassment carried on after the assault, right up until he was arrested."

Rosie's now ex-partner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 months in prison; she is now living a safe house with her children.

Next Link is a Bristol based charity that has seen a 30 per cent rise in referrals since this time last year Credit: Next Link

Rosie's case is one of many, with more domestic abuse survivors coming forward for help since the pandemic.

Next Link helps people in South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset. The charity has seen a 30 per cent rise in referrals compared to this time last year.

CEO Sarah O'Leary said: "It is concerning. We know the necessary restrictions of Covid have impacted on survivors who were already living in a lockdown by being in an abusive home.

"It's like a double lockdown. They feel like they can't go to family and friends to seek support, but actually restrictions don't apply in your circumstances.

"Your safety in the home is just as important as the risk of Covid." 

  • For those worried about their safety they can contact Next Link on 0800 470 0280. They can also contact the charity between 10am and 4pm Mon-Fri via their livechat service https://nextlinkhousing.co.uk