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‘I married a monster’ – Cambridgeshire woman raising awareness about domestic abuse tells her shocking story

It should have been the happiest day of her life, but hours after Sharon Livermore said ‘I do’, she was stood in her wedding dress in tears.

“That evening we went to a cottage and he chucked a bowl of pot pourri over me. He told me he hated my wedding dress; it was disgusting – it showed too much cleavage. He changed on our wedding day.

Sharon Livermore, who was subject to domestic abuse and stalking from her husband during their marriage, has founded Domestic Abuse Education
Sharon Livermore, who was subject to domestic abuse and stalking from her husband during their marriage, has founded Domestic Abuse Education

“I went to pieces, I wanted to go home. I was ashamed and embarrassed – I didn’t want to tell people I had married a monster,” said the mum-of-three.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity supporting victims of stalking, warns that many domestic abusers stalk their ex-partner once the relationship is over.

But for Sharon, a recruitment consultant in Cambridge, the stalking took place during her 18-month marriage.

Sharon said: “He would regularly call me at the office or turn up at my work with cakes and biscuits for everyone — he was the biggest charmer in the world. But he was making sure I was there and would give me ‘a look’ if I was wearing a skirt and he thought it was too short.”

Often, when Sharon took to the stage to deliver a speech at a recruitment event, she would spot her husband among the guests, watching her.

Unbeknown to her, he also even installed a tracker on her phone so he could monitor her every move.

“He would insist on coming with me shopping,” she said. “He would pick out a dress for me to try on. The girls at the changing room would say ‘Gosh, aren’t you lucky having a man helping you choose a dress?’

“But it would have to be below the knee and high-necked. I can now see I was being groomed. He wanted to control what I wore.”

According to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), 20.8 per cent of domestic abuse victims have experienced stalking.

During Sharon’s marriage, the abuse escalated quickly. She was cut her off from family and friends, told not to talk to male clients at work, instructed on which type of music she could listen to and was physically abused.

He would wake her up several times during the night so she would feel exhausted the next day.

“He used to say, ‘Why can’t I break you?’ as I am a strong-willed person,” she said. “But it got to a point where I was not Sharon anymore – I had lost myself.”

One day in 2015, Sharon confided in her boss what had been happening and then reported it to the police.

They arrested her estranged husband and helped relocate her and her children to a place where they were safe.

“They [the officers] were very good and very reassuring and understanding. I felt protected,” she said.

A few weeks later, on a dark November night, Sharon came home and thought it odd that her security light only stayed on for 10 seconds when it usually stays on for a minute. It later emerged the timer had been tampered with.

Two days later, on November 4, Sharon was leaving the office and walking towards her car when she noticed the windows were unusually steamed up. As she got in, she spotted her picnic blanket, usually kept in the boot, was in the footwell.

“I smelt aftershave. Something seriously wasn’t right here,” said Sharon

She leapt out of her car and flipped the boot open to find her ex-husband, curled up inside, armed with knives and cable ties.

He jumped out and chased Sharon, who was “frightened for her life”, as she ran back towards the office.

He managed to grab her and she cowered down on the floor, trying to protect herself.

But upon hearing her screams, a colleague rushed to her aid and managed to push him off. He ran to Sharon’s car and, as the engine was still running, he sped off, only to be arrested later by officers.

In court, Sharon’s former husband denied attempting to kidnap her, claiming all he wanted to do was speak to her and get answers as to why their relationship had ended.

The court heard that on the day of the attempted kidnap, he had bought cable ties, masking tape and tools, which he used to break into Sharon’s home to steal her spare car keys.

A jury found him guilty of attempted kidnap, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Speaking about the ordeal seven years on, Sharon, now 41, said she feels “so grateful to be alive” and uses her traumatic experience to raise awareness about domestic abuse.

She has founded Domestic Abuse Education to train employers on how to support staff affected by abuse and encourage firms to create a ‘safe space’.

She said: “I would say to victims, make sure you have a safe place to go and reach out to people and seek help. It’s not your fault.”

Any businesses interested in finding out more about Domestic Abuse Education can visit domesticabuseeducation.co.uk.

If you think you are being stalked, visit the stalking and harassment section of Cambridgeshire police’s website.

For help and support for domestic abuse visit bit.ly/44noLvm.

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