Wigan victim of horrific domestic abuse urges women to use Clare's Law to probe partners' violent pasts
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And Robyn Howard is also urging other women to take advantage of what is known as Clare’s Law to vet ex, present and potential partners if they have suspicions and so spare themselves the fear and agony she was put through when her assailant repeatedly punched and kicked her in the head and body.
The 23-year-old social worker from Winstanley had gone to Liverpool on Friday June 3 with her now ex to celebrate getting a new job.
Her 30-year-old boyfriend – whom she does not want us to name – got very drunk and they came back to Wigan earlier than planned.
She had just locked up and was heading upstairs to bed when he suddenly, and without any provocation, launched his attack, raining down blows with his fists and feet.
Robyn tried to escape and screamed for help, eventually managing to get outside and to the safety of her brother’s house just as the police arrived, neighbours having rung 999 after hearing her screams.
Taken to hospital by ambulance, Robyn was told that she had suffered a fractured jaw and broken nose in the attack.
On July 11, the ex pleaded guilty to causing her actual bodily harm and Manchester magistrates gave him a 24-week custodial sentence but suspended it for two years.
As part of a community sentence he must attend a Building Better Relationships programme, complete 10 days of rehabilitation activities plus 200 hours of unpaid work. He must pay Robyn £250 in compensation and is the subject of a two-year restraining order which prevents any contact with her.
Robyn said: “The police wanted to charge him with intending to cause grievous bodily harm but the CPS ruled it should be actual bodily harm.
“The sentence was laughable really, considering what he did to me, especially the compensation, but at least now he will have a criminal record that any future partners could check up on.
"I am going public about this because if other women are concerned that a new, former or current partner has an abusive past, they can ask to check under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – also known as Clare’s Law – then they can make an informed decision about the future of their relationship.
"Because my ex hadn’t been done for domestic violence before, the law wouldn’t have helped me as it happens.
"But he has now proved himself to be very dangerous and other women who come into his orbit need the opportunity to know that.
"He had never even shown anger before during our six months together. The attack came completely out of the blue. But that night he had had far too much to drink and had in fact been quite aggressive to some lads on the train home.
"Whether he took some other substance later to make him do what he did, I don’t know.
"Looking back, I can now see that the relationship had been coming to the end of its ‘honeymoon period.’ But the attack still came as a complete and horrible shock.
"It just shows what dangers can be lying dormant inside someone, especially if they have had too much to drink or had something else.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Robyn has teamed up with Wigan-based Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (Idva) – which has been a great help to her since the attack – to organise a fund-raising event on the evening of October 15 at the DW Stadium.
The two recipients of any proceeds will be Target Hardening - an organisation which helps to improve security at the homes of domestic abuse victims – and Refuge, which provides shelter to the victims of abuse when it is not safe for them to be at home. Both, Robyn says, are “woefully under-funded.”
For the £25 ticket, attendees will get a hot meal, live music, a bingo card and be a donation to charity. Raffles will also be held to boost the causes’ coffers further.
Robyn said: “These organisations are desperately in need of extra funds.
"There is a lot of domestic violence but people hardly ever talk about it. The victims need help during a time that is so isolating and difficult and awareness needs raising of just how widespread this type of crime is.
"While this is for the most serious of causes, the evening itself will be full of fun and laughter. The bingo, for instance, will be ‘bongos-style’ and there will be plenty of chances to socialise.”
She expressed her gratitude to family, friends and protective services who, she said, had played a huge role in her emotional and physical recovery.
For tickets in the Marquee at the DW Stadium event, which begins at 7pm, go to the Eventbrite booking system at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/charity-fundraiser-from-pain-to-purpose-tickets-387044589787.
Robyn is also planning on setting up a GoFundMe page to boost further the causes she wants to help.
To use Clare’s Law, members of the public are advised to visit or telephone the local police station.
Anyone worried that a loved one, friend or neighbour might be a victim of domestic violence can ring the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice. It operates 24 hours a day and can be reached on 0808 2000 247.