Amanda Scrivens, 42, Cirencester, talks about her horrific ordeal...
To anyone looking in, I had it all. Gorgeous children, a loving partner and a nice house…
If only they knew, I’d think.
Life with my boyfriend Lee Coleman wasn’t easy. A heavy drinker, he was controlling and possessive.
We’d first met in a bar in January 2004. He was big built and strong, I felt safe with him.
I was a single mum to two kids, then 8 and 2, and Lee looked after us.
In February 2005, I gave birth to our son. But, as time went on, Lee’s true colours began to show.
If I met up with friends, he’d bombard me with calls.
‘Who are you with? How long will you be?’ he’d demand.
It was easier to stay at home.
Slowly my friends drifted away.
‘They’re all crazy anyway,’ Lee told me.
He controlled our finances, too. I had a job as a housekeeper and also ran my own cleaning business. But Lee wouldn’t let me have my own bank account.
‘You don’t need one,’ he said.
Instead, he’d give me an allowance from my own hard-earned cash.
Sounds daft, but I just put up with it, to keep the peace.
In September 2009, our youngest son was born – but, over the next few years, Lee’s controlling behaviour just got worse.
I just accepted that this was my life.
Then, in late 2015, an opportunity to take over our local pub came up.
I really wanted to go for it. So I asked Lee for a business loan.
‘I’ll pay you back,’ I promised.
‘You’re joking, aren’t you?’ Lee snorted. ‘You can’t run a pub, you’re useless!’
I sat there, feeling rotten, as he kept telling me how stupid I was.
By January 2016, I’d had enough. I took the kids, went to stay with family. Lee was furious.
‘Get home now!’ he raged down the phone.
He even cancelled my phone contract so I couldn’t make calls. Then, a week on, he reconnected it so he could speak to me.
‘I miss you!’ he cried.
But, next minute, he flipped.
‘Come home or I’ll burn the house down,’ he warned.
He also threatened to pour paint over our new carpets and my things. I couldn’t let Lee destroy our home.
‘It’s easier if I just go back,’ I said, defeated.
‘I’m glad you finally saw sense,’ Lee beamed, hugging me.
I hoped he’d come round to the idea of me managing a pub so, a couple of nights later on 20 January, I raised the topic again.
Lee’s temper flared.
‘Not this again, you daft cow!’
Things escalated into a row – so, fed up, I went off to bed.
‘I’d sleep with one eye open, if I were you!’ Lee shouted after me.
He’s just trying to frighten me.
I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as him, so I got in with my youngest son.
Lee continued to threaten me.
Remember to sleep with one eye open, he texted.
Then, moments after dozing off, I awoke to my son screaming.
‘Dad, stop!’ he cried.
Lee was looming over me with a pillow. And, before I could react, he pushed it over my face.
I desperately tried to fight him off, but his hold was too strong.
He’s going to kill me, I thought, struggling to breathe.
Moments later, he took the pillow off. I breathed in big gulps of air.
‘That’s just the start,’ Lee laughed before walking off.
My son was petrified. Lee had smothered me – who knew what he’d planned next?
Terrified, I stayed awake all night.
The next morning, Lee was unnervingly calm as he made himself a sandwich for work.
‘You’re locked in,’ he told me, then demanded I hand over my keys.
After he’d left, I phoned a family member, who came at once and called the police.
I broke down. I’d put up with so much from Lee over the years, but this time he’d gone too far.
Lee was arrested and charged with common assault and using controlling or coercive behaviour.
‘He’s pleading not guilty,’ an officer told me.
It’d mean the kids and I would give evidence via video link.
Meanwhile, I decided to go ahead with my plans for the pub. Luckily, my uncle loaned me the money – it gave me something to focus on.
Last July, Lee Coleman, 37, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court. He still denied the charges.
Thankfully, the jury found him guilty of the controlling-behaviour charge. And, while he was cleared of common assault, he pleaded guilty to another charge of assault.
He got three years and a restraining order was imposed.
With Lee locked up, I ploughed all of my energy into the pub and the kids. And I’m slowly rebuilding a new life.
If Lee could see me now, he’d be livid I’m proving him wrong. To me, that’s the best punishment that I could ever give him.
I put up with his controlling ways for 12 years, and what he did had a big impact on the kids.
They’ve all had counselling. Our youngest son’s a lot happier now, but his older brother is still struggling and has anger issues.
He blames himself for what happened – but the only one to blame is Coleman.
That’s why I’m telling my story – to encourage other women to break away from unhealthy relationships before it’s too late.
Now Coleman’s out of my life, I won’t ever look back.