Haylely Lowles, 34, was brutally beaten and left for dead by her partner Matthew Sargent, 30, on August 22, 2013. Though he has since been sentenced to 16 and a half years in prison for attempting to murder her, she has decided to share her story in the hopes of encouraging other women to leave their abusive relationships while they can.
Lowles, who is a hairdresser from Chelmsford, Essex, was in an emotionally abusive relationship with Sargent for seven years before he physically harmed her. Lowles, who is a mother of one child, told Mirror she didn’t even recognize she was in an abusive relationship for a long time.
"I would never have classed what Matt did as 'domestic abuse'. But now I'm aware it was so much worse than I ever realized at the time,” she said.
"Christmas was always a time when his problems would get worse. He would always promise me lavish presents, but I never wanted presents - I just wanted a normal Christmas.
“…About two weeks before [Christmas], he would go off the rails and would disappear. He would spend all the Christmas money on a drink and drugs binge….In seven years, I never got a present or even a Christmas card from him. I never had one Christmas with Matt where he wasn't arrested.”
When Sargent finally exploded in August last year, Lowles was lucky to walk away with her life. Sargent left Lowles in a coma after he fractured her skull and caused bleeding in her brain by beating her and smashing her head in an oven door. Parts of her skull broke off and lodged into her brain, and she was left with deep holes in both sides of her head and behind her ears. Lowles also sustained a broken nose and slashes to her face.
Although Lowles has been left with some neurological damage that affects her ability to concentrate, she’s optimistic about the life she’s building with her 23-month-old son William, and hopes that some good can come from the violence she suffered.
“I feel like if I could help just one person to have a good Christmas by escaping an abusive relationship then it feels like what I went through had a purpose,” she said.
“Whether they hit you or not, if you're scared of them then it is not a normal relationship. I can't believe it took him to nearly kill me for me to leave…You never realize how awful it is and how unhappy you are until you leave.”