Living with a monster

Trapped and tortures, I had to find an escape

Published by: Laura Hinton and Katie Evans
Published on: 12 January 2012

Pain ripped through me as I mopped tomato ketchup from the floor, and tears slid silently down my cheeks. What the hell had just happened? One minute I'd been giggling with my boyfriend Florin as I'd made him scrambled eggs... the next he'd gone crazy.
‘They're too yellow!' he'd screeched. ‘There's too much cholesterol in them!'
I'd just stared at him, open-mouthed. It all happened so quickly, I hadn't even seen the ketchup bottle hurtling towards me - not until it winded me so badly that I'd fallen back on the sofa.
‘I'm sorry,' I'd stuttered. Yes, I'd apologised to him! It hadn't calmed him, though. Instead, he'd smashed his fist into my stomach. Taken the breath from me, so I couldn't even scream.
Now, as I cleared up the mess, I could feel the bruises erupting on my skin. I know what you're thinking - why didn't I walk out the door then? I know I should have. But something held me back. I thought I loved him.
So I made excuses. Florin loved going to the gym - maybe he'd mentioned the cholesterol previously, but I hadn't listened?
After all, he'd never been like this before. When we'd met at his car wash two months before, Florin had been completely different. ‘Fancy going for a drink?' he'd asked me.
My car hadn't been the only thing getting in a lather. I'd been too, watching his muscles bulge under his t-shirt.
So I'd invited him to a party that night.
‘What a gentleman,' my pal Sam, 24, had winked. Florin had won everyone over by holding my hand and whispering sweet nothings to me.
And you know the stupid thing? That's how he talked me round after attacking me with the ketchup bottle.
‘I'm so sorry,' he sobbed, stroking my hair. ‘I'm stressed at work, I shouldn't have taken it out on you.'
He was under a lot of pressure. He'd had to close one of the car washes, there had been money problems, he didn't need me doing silly things like almost giving him a heart attack...
Somehow, I twisted it all around to being my fault. And Florin played on that. Soon, he was flying off the handle over everything and nothing.
One night, I was a couple of minutes late coming home from my trainee nurse's job. Florin was in the hallway, waiting, eyes glaring.
‘You're late,' he said to me, his voice low and controlled. Too controlled.
‘I'm sorry,' I whimpered. Too late. The switch had been flicked inside him and, this time, he took the beating to a whole new level. He bit me, punched me...
As I lay crumpled on the floor, broken and bleeding, Florin dragged me into the shower and turned on the icy-cold water.
‘Argh!' I cried, as my teeth started chattering. ‘This will stop the bruises,' he sneered. I knew now exactly what Florin was - a monster. Manipulative, cruel, controlling... he had me trapped because I was too scared to stay and even more scared to leave.
I wore long-sleeved clothes to cover the bruises, and began taking days off work. One afternoon, Sam popped round. We'd barely seen each other, as Florin didn't like me seeing friends.
‘Hey, lovebird,' she teased. ‘Where've you been hiding?'
I shrugged. ‘You know...' I said.
Sam chuckled and nodded at the faint bruise on my chin. ‘Looks like you've been play-fighting with your boyfriend,' she laughed. To her and everyone else, he was the charming man from that party.
But even as I winked back and forced a smile, I remembered that ‘play fighting'. How Florin had whipped me with the TV cable, lashing my back. How the week before that, he'd bashed my kneecaps with a baseball bat.
I whimpered at the memory. With every crunch of the bone, it felt like another part of the old Marta was disappearing. After every attack, Florin begged for my forgiveness. ‘I just get so angry,' he'd cry - and I'd find myself holding him, comforting him. I wasn't sure who I hated most. Him or myself for letting him control me like this.
So I came up with a plan. I'd crawl away from Florin and sneakily take photos of my injuries with my mobile. Five months after the beatings started, even though I still didn't have the courage to leave, I felt better simply because I was taking control.
‘Come on, Marta,' I whispered to myself, even as blood trickled from my split lip. Held the phone steady and... snap, another picture.
One day I'd get the chance to use them against my boyfriend. One day I'd have the courage to break free and see him punished, I kept telling myself.
A few days later, Sam was round and I forgot myself, rolled up my sleeve. She gasped seeing a huge, yellow bruise. ‘He hits you, doesn't he? You need to get away.'
‘If I try to escape, he'll come after me,' I said. ‘I have to plan this carefully... But when I need help, I'll text you - then you call the police.'
I started making a log of the abuse, too. Every time I experienced Florin's rage, I marked a red cross in my diary.
One day, I must have said the wrong thing or contradicted him. Florin went crazy. Picked up a wooden chair and smashed it across my back. I fell to the floor like a stone, pain exploding. I could barely breathe.
He was going to kill me!
As Florin stormed into the bathroom, I somehow grabbed my mobile. Punched out four life-saving letters to Sam and pressed send. Help.
Moments later Florin was back. Hands like steel pulled me up, dragged me into the bathroom and threw me into the shower on my knees. Ice-cold water pummelled my skin.
‘I'm sorry,' I sobbed.
‘Beg!' he yelled.
‘Please! Forgive me!'
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Florin froze. ‘Put your dressing gown on. See who it is.' Then he hid in the bedroom.
It was two police officers. My heart soared. ‘We've had calls about a noise disturbance,' one said. ‘Is everything okay?'
Florin was just feet from me, listening to every word. ‘F-fine. I've just hopped out of the shower.' But this was my chance. After six months of hell, I could smell freedom... ‘Help!' I mouthed.
They nodded their heads in understanding. ‘We just need to come in,' the officer said.
‘My boyfriend's in the bedroom,' I stuttered.
While one of the officers beckoned me into the kitchen, the other went to Florin. He sounded so polite - I had to show what he was really like.
‘My boyfriend's been beating me,' I hissed. Handing the female officer the photos on my phone, I then lowered my dressing gown so she could see the rainbow of bruises covering my body.
‘It's okay,' she said. ‘It's over.'
Florin was arrested and, thanks to my evidence, the police had a case to build against him.
But still I was haunted. I couldn't shower without remembering begging forgiveness.
Finally, in August last year, Florin Moga, 34, was convicted of six counts of actual bodily harm at Lewes Crown Court. He was jailed for four years, plus one year extended licence.
Since then, my physical scars have healed, but the emotional ones will always remain. I'm so proud for having the courage to report him though, for making the right decision at last.
I just hope my story serves as an inspiration to other women living with violence. I'm proof it's never too late to escape.
Marta Fedorowska, 26, Crawley, West Sussex