Belfast Telegraph

He head-butted and kicked me in the stomach four times after I asked for my cash card ... but I still stayed with him: Domestic abuse victim

Domestic abuse victim on why she stuck with violent partner for months and how she is trying to rebuild her life

By Nevin Farrell

A Woman has told how she stayed with her boyfriend after he viciously head-butted her and kicked her four times on the ground below a Christmas Tree on what should have been one of the best nights of 2015 - New Year's Eve.

Within three months, this time during a night out in Belfast in March last year to see a show by the magician Dynamo, she was head-butted again and still did not leave her partner for another two months.

Now, Victoria Logan (24), from Bushmills, has spoken out to warn people to walk away when things turn nasty.

Her former partner of 17 months, Gary McKendry (22), also from Bushmills, was last month given a four-month jail term at Coleraine Magistrates' Court for assaulting Victoria on December 31 at Portballintrae Boat Club.

The court was told that after an argument about a cash card, McKendry smashed his forehead into the bridge of Victoria's nose, leaving a scar.

As she fell to the ground, he then kicked her four times in the stomach, so hard that she ended up below a Christmas Tree at an outside smoking area.

The court heard McKendry had also previously attacked Victoria in Belfast, and before that had assaulted a previous partner. That led District Judge Liam McNally to describe it as bad a case of its kind as he had ever heard. He added he would have been failing in his duty to anyone who has suffered domestic violence if he had not sent him to prison.

At the same court, defence solicitor Fergus McIntosh said McKendry accepted full responsibility for what happened, but had "turned his life around".

The lawyer claimed alcohol had been a major factor in his client's life, but he now no longer drinks and is trying to get fit to play football.

McKendry appealed the sentence, and at Coleraine County Court last week the four-month jail term was suspended for three years.

However, he was also ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to Victoria.

After the January hearing, at which Victoria was present, she said she "felt like somebody was finally listening because I had already been to court in Belfast for the other incident and he got 200 hours' community service".

She said she was initially disappointed that the sentence was replaced with a suspended jail term, but is also glad that McKendry will have to behave himself for the next three years.

"People would always get at the victim for not coming out, but at the end of the day I was manipulated by Gary McKendry and that is why it took so long to come out," Victoria added.

"This was a very private matter between me and Gary, but I had no other option but to make it public.

"I stayed with him for a very long time, thinking that the man I fell in love with would come back out again, but he is not going to be able to change until he decides within himself that he is truly sick of what he has become.

"I am speaking out because people hear all the bad, but a very dangerous side to it is that person can make you feel you are the only one for them.

"There is a part of that person that is manipulating you and people need to be wary of that because it is that part that pulls you in and then makes you stay.

"There is a part of you that says, 'If my friend was in this relationship I would tell them to leave', but you stay on.

"You are staying on past your own personal morals and then you are losing yourself to the relationship."

Recalling the violence of the Portballintrae incident, Victoria said: "We were originally at the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine with my family and then we got a lift down to Portballintrae, but on the way down I gave Gary my card to go into the shop to get cigarettes and stuff.

"When he came back out, I asked for it back and it just started a whole argument.

"He head-butted me and I fell to the ground. When I fell to the ground, I grabbed his jumper, so it ripped and on the ground he booted me four times into the back of the Christmas Tree.

"I was left with a scar, but you can't really see it. I can cover it up with make-up and I also wear glasses because it is right on the bridge of my nose and where they sit covers it for me. I was not wearing glasses the night he head-butted me."

Three months later came the Belfast attack when McKendry head-butted Victoria on a night out at a show by the magician Dynamo in the SSE Arena.

"I stayed until I was mentally and emotionally broken," she said. "I was a shell of myself and I waited until I could not take it any longer.

"This is what I am trying to get out there - you feel it is your duty to stay with them and try and help them. I stayed for months after those two events to no success."

Victoria said she was with McKendry from December 2014 until May last year and that he had a third court appearance for attacking a previous partner.

She stood by him in court in 2015, but later she became the target. "People need to talk about it in order for the stigma to be released," Victoria said.

"Anybody in domestic violence, they need to think to themselves, 'Am I being the person I want to be?' If the answer to that is 'no', then the relationship has consumed you and it is time to believe in yourself enough to leave, that you are strong enough.

"The love you hold for a part of someone else should never mean you lose the love and respect you hold for yourself.

"The most important thing is I can now be my own person in life without the fear which shadowed me like a dark cloud while court and everything else was ongoing."

Victoria wished to stress she didn't want to be referred to as a "victim".

She said she is currently "happily single" and added: "It will be remaining like that. I can't get close to anybody, so there is no point in even trying."

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