Abused women urged: be like brave Abigail and call police
The abuse suffered by Abigail Lyle at the hands of her violent boyfriend is the tip of the iceberg, according to a domestic violence charity.
As many as one in four women in Northern Ireland have experienced domestic violence — but Women’s Aid Federation believe many of those cases go unreported.
This week showjumper Jonathan Cresswell was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to a catalogue of abuse against his girlfriend Abigail Lyle.
At one stage Cresswell threatened to have her doused in a bath of bleach.
The abuse continued until Miss Lyle was rescued by an officer from the domestic violence unit which had been advising her.
Miss Lyle said too many women were suffering at the hands of violent men, and pleaded for other abuse victims to speak up.
“This kind of thing happens all too often ... but it shouldn't happen to anyone, ever,” she said.
“Today shows that the systems in place to help people work, so there is no reason to take abuse of any kind.”
Annie Campbell from Women’s Aid Federation urged other women to follow Miss Lyle’s example.
“We really applaud the bravery of this women to take this case and are delighted there has been a successful conclusion,” she said.
“Around one in four women in Northern Ireland are in abusive relationships — it is an enormous problem.”
Last year the organisation took more than 27,000 calls from women, and Ms Campbell said Abigail’s case was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Women can be severely mentally and damaged for life. There is a real fear and it’s grounded in reality.”
She urged any women in a similar position to contact the 24-hour domestic violence helpline on 0800 917 1414.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police know that a large number of domestic incidents in Northern Ireland still go unreported.
“It's important that the message is getting out that people no longer have to endure abuse, that there is support for them and a means through the law to address the situation they are in.”
Cresswell, from Chestnut Manor in Caledon, pleaded guilty to five charges of assaulting Miss Lyle occasioning her actual bodily harm, and one of common assault between February and August last year.
At one stage, the 22-year-old had told her: “I have filled a bath with bleach and I'm going to put you in it.”
At the time, Miss Kyle made a 19-page statement to police about Cresswell’s abuse.
He had initially denied Miss Lyle’s claims, and tried to turn the blame on her by claiming the injuries were self-inflicted.
Jailing Cresswell for six months, Judge David McFarland said those who subjected their partners to repeated violence should expect custodial sentences.