A brave domestic violence victim brutally beaten and driven to the brink of suicide has spoken out as her ex was jailed for two years.
Jennifer Salter, 31, was attacked on an almost daily basis by ex boyfriend Richard Robson, then 34, who beat her with a belt, stood on her neck and threatened her with a power tool as she lay on the floor frozen with fear.
Ms Salter now suffers from severe anxiety but is determined to speak out about her experiences in the hope of giving strength to others who may be experiencing the same turmoil.
The veterinary receptionist, of Medway in Kent, said it almost felt like love at first sight when the pair began dating in April 2019 and they decided to move in together in March this year.
Robson’s abusive behaviour had already surfaced but spiralled when Ms Salter was furloughed from work and isolated from friends and the outside world as England went into lockdown.
She would fear him returning from work when he would attack her for not wiping the dust from the door frames or cleaning the skirting boards properly.
Left terrified for her life after months of violent abuse, Ms Salter took an overdose in June which she felt was the only way out.
But she eventually mustered the strength to reach out to a friend who encouraged her to discretely pack her bag and escape from Robson’s clutches.
Robson, of Larkfield in Kent, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court and handed a two-year prison sentence.
He pleaded guilty to coercive and controlling behaviour between November 2019 and July 2020, plus ABH and common assault.
Speaking of the abuse, Ms Salter said: “At first the abuse was every so often but then it became almost daily.
“One time, we were sitting on the sofa and he wasn’t shouting but he began talking at me.
“He hit me and strangled me and I decided to make a run for the front door. I was in my pyjamas and I had nothing on my feet but he fought me before I made it.
“He held me up against the door and strangled me to the point where I could just feel my head about to pass out when he let go.
“I can’t remember if he dragged me to the front room or I crawled, but he then had a power tool that is used to cut through metal.
“He picked up the grinder as I was lying on the floor. He was standing over me and staring at me with these angry eyes as if he was going to use it on me. He did not turn it on but I did not know if at any moment he would.
“Then he just said ‘no, too messy’ and put it down. I was just left there, shaking and completely frightened.”
In her victim impact statement read to the court, Ms Salter described how their one-and-a-half relationship was “truly amazing” at first when the pair made each other extremely happy.
But as time went on, warning signs about Robson emerged when he belittled her before passing it off as a joke and expected immediate replies to his texts.
He even claimed that he himself was a victim of domestic abuse.
But Ms Salter was so besotted, she ignored any concerns and hoped things would improve when the pair moved in together.
Speaking after the sentencing, she said: “My life became a bubble of just Richard and I. I started to lose contact with family, friends and colleagues.
“We moved into our own place in March this year. Lockdown definitely made a difference and left us in each other’s pockets as I was at home a lot more.
“I was furloughed so I was at home all the time and so he expected more of me.
“If there was not something done that he noticed, he would be angry. So I was constantly worried when he came home as to what might happen.
“I felt more pressure and I couldn’t really leave or get down time or go out with friends.
“With coronavirus stats and news updates, I felt too nervous to leave too in case I was to pass on the virus to someone else.
“I didn’t want to put someone else in a vulnerable position, even though I was vulnerable myself.”
Ms Salter described living on an emotional rollercoaster where bouts of abuse would leave her craving love from her abusive partner.
She said: “It was exhausting, it was frightening, it was scary but at the time I was still madly in love with him.
“He would flit between being totally evil to being totally loving. I would experience the evil which was totally frightening but then I would be desperate for the loving moments.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions.”
Ms Salter escaped her abusive partner with the help of a friend when she began to fear Robson might one day accidentally kill her.
She said: “I was frightened for my life. I thought there would come a time where he would kill me, whether it would be by accident, in a fit of rage, by strangling me for too long or hitting my head in a certain way.
“I don’t think he would have ended up murdering me but sometimes his anger was so intense, I just did not know and that scared me.”
She said: “I finally had to reach outside of my teeny tiny circle because I was desperate.”
Ms Salter contacted a work colleague who told her to pack a bag while she came to collect her.
Ms Salter said: “I hid it in the cupboard. As she was on her way, Richard came home and I got really scared at that point.
“He said ‘Jen why is your friend outside?’ and I had to tell him. He kind of melted and seemed really upset.
“I said that I loved him and that I would be back in a few days and I left.”
She added: “I am not the same person I was. I am always on the edge and my anxiety is through the roof. I have panic attacks and I get stressed easily.
“I get overwhelmed at things I would have been able to deal with quickly before.
“I just hope that sharing my experience may give someone else some strength to finally escape from what they are going through.
“There are times where you can feel so weak and like you can give in, but continue to be strong and you will feel better after.
Give someone else strength
“I just hope that my story may give someone else some strength to finally escape from what they are going through.
“If sharing my experience can make a difference to someone and give them strength, that will make a difference to me. I want others to know you are not alone.
“There are times where you can feel so weak and like you can give in, but continue to be strong and you will feel better after.”
Robson claimed that during his ten years serving in the army in Iraq and the Falklands he was left with PTSD.
He admitted whipping Ms Salter with a belt, strangling her, threatening her with a weapon and also threatening to kill himself.
The veteran is now banned from contacting Ms Salter and her family for five years.