Norah Casey opens up for first time about years of domestic violence

Businesswoman Norah Casey is gaining widespread praise for telling her story of domestic violence at the hands of an ex-partner.

Clearly shaken telling her difficult story publicly for the first time on last night's Late Late, Ms Casey courageously shared details of the abuse - and its effects on her.

She was in London in her 20s, working as a nurse, when she met the man who would go on to abuse her over several years. They had a nine-year relationship, with the first signs of aggression coming as early as their third date.

He was a sophisticated man, she said, while she was young and "had nothing" by comparison.

"He was in a way tutoring me - I was learning things about life that I never understood," she said.

He had travelled widely and said he wanted to show her the places he had seen.

They went for dinner the night before a trip to Bali and, as they drove into the driveway of their home afterwards, she said something that irritated him. He slammed on the breaks and came round to her side of the door.

"I thought he was going to give me a hug," she said, as the atmosphere between them had become tense due to his clear irritation. "Instead of that he grabbed my head and slammed it off the side of the car, really forcibly.

"I was stunned and thought 'Did that really happen?'.

"He was so normal and casual (afterwards) about going up to bed. I was thinking how I was going to camouflage the bruising at the side of my head and face the day after."

About 15 minutes into the flight the next day, he touched her swollen face with tears in his eyes and said he was "really, really sorry". He blamed the stress of work and going on holiday.

"When you love someone and believe they love you, you forgive them...You want to believe they are going to change. It was the start of a process of me believing I was to blame," she said.

On another occasion, she said he drove off after she refused to get in the car with him because he had been drinking. When she got back to their home, he left her outside for 30 minutes, then threw open the door, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the house.

"He just battered me senseless," she said. "He kicked me. He punched me. He got me on the ground. When I was on the floor, I could hardly see, but I could see he was going for a knife in the kitchen.

"I don't know how I did it, but I barricaded myself into the sitting room (with furniture). He was screaming, saying it was my fault, that I forced him to punch me."

She eventually fell asleep and woke up about 4am.

"He was standing over me with a knife. Then, he was on his knees crying, saying 'I can't believe I've done this to you."

He refused to take her to a doctor for three days, and she was incapable of walking - three ribs and her cheekbone were broken.

When eventually they went to the doctor, she remembers he (the doctor) eyeballed her partner and said he didn't believe Norah had fallen down stairs.

Her ex was "lovely" to her for five days, then switched again, and accused her of "milking" her injuries.

"As time goes on - you begin to realise this person is not going to change, even though he's full of abject apologies," she said.

Her appearance - the first time she has spoken publicly about her abuse - garnered a supportive and grateful response online.

If you are affected by the issues raised here, you can contact Women's Aid on Freephone 1800 341 900, 24 hours a day.

By Jill O'Sullivan

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