A woman has shared harrowing images of the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her partner – and has written an open letter urging other victims to contact the police.
Maria Hopkins, who has two children, had her jaw broken and spine fractured by ex-partner Ricky Wilding. She was left in hospital and forced to eat through a syringe after the attack, which happened in July.
Wilding, the father of her two children, was jailed for six years and eight months.
Ms Hopkins said Wilding's attack was so extreme her own children did not recognise her, and were scared of her.
In one image the young woman can be seen covered in blood with her head and neck in a brace.
Ms Hopkins, from Swindon, shared sobering details of the attack and how Wilding showed no remorse as he smirked at her across the courtroom.
She wrote: "When he was given his prison sentence, and he walked out of the court, that was it. It was all over and I could focus on moving on.
"I know that so many people think it is impossible to escape an abusive relationship, especially those who have children, but it is so important to prioritise their wellbeing as well as your own.
"It can happen to any relationship behind closed doors. If I can help one other person in a similar position to me then it will be worth it."
Ms Hopkins, who has a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, said she met Ricky at when she was 15.
She said that after the birth of their first daughter, she noticed his behaviour begin to change.
"He wasn’t violent and he didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs, and we didn’t argue, but his tone towards me in everyday conversations started to change.
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"He almost had to have a say on everything and became really jealous – I was never really allowed to go out with friends."
After the birth of their son in 2016, Wilding started to hit her.
"Over time, I became accustomed to it, it almost became normal life to me.
When the day came when Maria couldn’t take any more, the couple split up.
She described the attack, which happened on 15 July.
“He became aggressive so I locked him out the house – but he kicked the door in and attacked me, smashing my head against the TV unit so hard it’s left a dent in the wood.
"He then stamped on my head several times before taking my sister’s phone from her so she couldn’t call the police.
Ms Hopkins was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where she had to have a number of operations for a broken jaw and fractured spine – including a permanent metal plate fitted to her jaw.
She wrote: "I could only eat with a syringe for weeks after and my jaw will never be straight again.
"When the judge was reading out details of the surgery I had required, Ricky looked proud that someone had needed surgery as a result of his actions, and proud of the damage he had caused.”
Ms Hopkins’s letter, released through Wiltshire Police, comes after MP Rosie Duffield received a standing ovation last week after she gave an emotional speech about her harrowing experience of coercive control as the Domestic Abuse Bill was debated.
The Labour MP said: “Often we see the same images and stereotypes on TV. Housing estates, working-class families, drunk men coming home from the pub, women surrounded by children and a sequence of shouting followed by immediate physical violence or assault.
“But domestic violence has many faces and the faces of those who survive are varied too.”