Why do women stay with men who beat and humiliate them in the name of love?
Anyone who asks is clearly lucky enough to never have been intimidated and manipulated by someone who claims to love them.
They can’t even begin to understand how a man like Michael Jack Dennett can destroy a woman’s sense of self worth - twist and turn her, mentally and physically, until she no longer knows what is up and what is down.
The little things. That’s how it starts. He tells her he gets so jealous because he loves her so much. She thinks she needs to make him feel more secure and tries harder and harder to please.
The insults start, then the violence. Every time he hits her, he tells her she provoked him. He rapes her and afterwards, he says: ‘I love you’ to the woman he is turning into a broken puppet forever trying to mend the twisted bits in his head that make him do this.
How can she leave? He threatens to come after her and kill her, or worse, her children.And what would she do? He’s told her she’s useless about a million times.
She thinks maybe staying, and trying even harder to do everything just as he wants, might eventually calm him down.
For all of those reasons, and thousands more you and I can never even begin to know, women stay with violent partners.
Some only get away because they die. Two women are killed by current or ex-partners every week. Their deaths make up a third of all female murder victims.
And some, like Danielle Elliott, get away because they are given hope and support.
It took a year for her partner to go from jealously ripping up her clothes and controlling her mobile phone to beating her five days out of seven, raping her, threatening to set her on fire and, in front of her children, threatening to kill her.
What got Danielle out was her overwhelming need to protect her eldest daughter from him, plus the unstinting love and support of her best friend and a huge amount of help from police.
Danielle fought against her fear and as a result, Dennett was jailed for 10-and-a-half years yesterday.
As if that wasn’t courageous enough, she has taken the huge step of waiving her right to anonymity to tell her harrowing yet ultimately positive story in The Star. It’s an incredibly brave and selfless thing to do.
A guarantee that their identity will be kept secret is given to all victims of rape and sexual assault for life – idiots on social media sadly notwithstanding. It’s a vital form of protection which helps police and prosecutors to reassure complainants who are considering whether to press charges, and it allows people privacy in which to heal the mental and physical scars.
But Danielle now knows that most rapes are committed by a partner or ex or someone they know – and that she wasn’t the only one made to live in pain and fear; a million women are abused in their own homes every year.
She is determined to show everyone still living with abusive partners that the escape route she took is waiting for them, too.