When Kate met Mark, she fell for his charm and affection “hook, line, and sinker”.
A successful businesswoman, with her own accountancy business, Kate had come through a series of tragedies: The death of her mother and the break-up of a relationship with her son’s father.
“When we first met, Mark was very affectionate,” says Kate. “He put me on a pedestal, saying: ‘Oh, I adore you,’ and ‘I’ve never felt like this.’ He made me feel really special. I fell for it hook, line and sinker.”
Things changed subtly soon after, starting with remarks about her clothes.
The first time Mark got nasty was in a restaurant, when Kate tried to pour some wine. “He looked at me and hissed: ‘You put that bottle down, you’re just after making a show of me. Everybody in this restaurant is looking at you. A gentleman pours the wine, you’re not a lady at all. I’m going to have to teach you how to behave.’ ”
Kate says those words deeply affected her and she began to doubt herself and look to Mark for guidance because she was “afraid of getting him angry”.
Mark then proposed, and Kate thought it might rekindle their relationship. “As soon as we were married, things got really bad,” says Kate. “He’d stop me going out of the house. Sometimes he’d lock me in. None of my friends would come round, and I wasn’t allowed out on my own. He became very physical too. He would put his arms around my throat and drag me. Or push me up against a wall. Sometimes he’d choke me or shake me, or bang my head on the wall.”
Mark began to exert a new level of control. He moved out of his house to live in Kate’s. But he refused to contribute to bills or groceries. Meanwhile, he rented out his own house and kept all the rental income himself.
He persuaded Kate to leave her job and set up her own practice at home. He also wanted to have a baby and, 10 years into their relationship, she was pregnant.
After the birth of their daughter, things deteriorated to such an extent that Kate tried to take her life. A nurse gave her a card with the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline and she made contact. The final straw came when Mark assaulted her son, them 12, punching him repeatedly in the stomach. Kate threw Mark out and built up contact with Women’s Aid.
Kate’s story was released yesterday by Women’s Aid as part of a fundraising appeal for their helpline, which is struggling to answer the calls it gets because of funding difficulties.
Director Margaret Martin they take “calls from women like Kate every day” and hear “far too many stories of seemingly perfect relationships that turn bad”.
* People can donate at www.womensaid.ie/donate or calling 01 6788858. Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341900, open 10am-10pm, seven days a week
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