A woman who was held hostage, raped and beaten by her former partner is urging other victims of domestic violence to seek help – before it is too late.
Karen Hanna, 38, thought she was going to die at the hands of Anthony Phillips.
He locked her inside her Chorley flat for eight days and violently abused her, leaving her with 58 separate injuries.
She was finally able to flee when Phillips, 38, fell asleep, and he has since been jailed for life.
Karen has bravely decided to waive her anonymity in the hope that she will inspire other victims of domestic violence to seek help.
She urged other victims: “Take what little strength you have in your body and get out of it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a long, hard road, but it’s worth it.
“For all victims it feels like a death sentence. You are waiting to die, waiting for it to go that little bit too far.”
Karen met Phillips while she was living in Bristol and the couple started a relationship.
But within two weeks, he beat her.
He was arrested and recalled to prison for two years for a previous offence, but Karen decided not to give evidence against him.
She said: “Stupidly, like most women, I forgave him.”
She stood by him for 10 months while he was in prison, but found he became more and more
He accused her of being with other men if she did not answer her phone immediately and he called her 142 times one Christmas Day.
Karen said he threatened to shoot her and refused to stop calling her.
Despite repeated requests for help from the police and prison service, she says nothing was done.
When Phillips was released from prison in September 2012, he travelled to Karen’s new home in Chorley to see her.
But he held her hostage for eight days, raped her, beat her and pulled out chunks of her hair.
Karen said: “It was like going to the pit of hell. The second time he stood on my throat, I thought, ‘Why not let him finish it?’. I had given up.
“But I’m a fighter. I had to get out of there.”
They left the flat twice during those eight days, but Karen was so scared that she could not escape or ask for help.
It was only when Phillips got drunk and fell asleep one night that Karen found the bravery to escape, lock him in the flat and phone police.
He was arrested and has since been jailed for life, with a minimum of 11 years behind bars. He was previously convicted of rape in 1998.
However, Phillips is appealing the sentence and is awaiting a decision from the country’s most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas.
Karen has recovered from her physical injuries, but she is still suffering mentally as a result of the attack.
Until recently, she could not leave her home and suffered panic attacks.
She said: “Mentally it’s a rollercoaster. I can be all right and laughing and joking and then I’ll absolutely crash.”
Karen believes she has only been able to get through her ordeal thanks to support from the police and the domestic violence unit at Lancashire West Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB).
This has ranged from having familiar faces in court with her to support at doctor’s appointments and help with her finances.
Karen hopes that knowing the services are available will give other people the courage to seek help.
She said: “If you are weak and don’t think you have the mental or physical strength to do all the legwork, that’s when the CAB is brilliant. They deal with everything.
“It takes a big weight off you.”
Bridget Cheyne, independent domestic violence advisor for Lancashire West CAB, said: “The first step is to let somebody know and talk to someone you trust about what’s happening. They can help to get you to the right services.”
Anyone seeking help to escape domestic violence can call Clare House on 01772 435865 or CAB on 01772 424282.