My latest novel, The Perfect Husband, is a terrifying story inspired by my own experience of domestic abuse and a violent marriage. My protagonist, Sophie, realises too late that the man she has fallen in love with is not the man she has just married. After eight months of being love-bombed, as was I, Sophie finds herself in hospital in her wedding dress with an “unexplained” broken wrist. Yet, no one would suspect Jay, her new charismatic husband, of being abusive. Sophie finds herself silenced by humiliation, fear, and the fact that no one would believe him capable of such behaviour.
Like my character Sophie, I spent my wedding night in hospital, isolated from friends and family with no phone, and where my new husband suddenly radically changed, becoming abusive, controlling and eventually violent. Similarly to my protagonist, Sophie, I fell in love with a prince, only to discover I married a monster.
It is only now that I feel strong enough to write about these traumatic events in my life in a novel, to show how it can happen to anyone. I have fictionalised my experience of domestic violence and coercive control to raise awareness among other women who find themselves in this terrible situation.
One of the main takeaway points from The Perfect Husband is how easily someone becomes isolated from relatives and friends. Once isolated, the victim is at the mercy of their abuser, as behind closed doors, no one is there to witness or crucially help, and the abuser has complete autonomy to act upon their impulses as they see fit, which is what happened to me, as it does to my character Sophie in The Perfect Husband.
After years of being equally shamed and terrified into silence, I am determined to call out abusers on their heinous behaviour, typically carried out in secret, and to raise awareness of how challenging it is for victims to escape domestic violence and coercive control. I am now a proud Patron of the charity SomeOne Cares which counsels survivors of domestic violence.