AN INSPIRATIONAL mum has spoken out about the terrifying moment her violent ex threatened to tie her up and make her watch him murder her baby son before he killed her and then himself.
Louise Kavanagh has revealed the harrowing details of how her ex-partner Patrick Stokes emotionally and physically abused her throughout their relationship.
Stokes (26) was jailed for five years this week for threatening to kill Ms Kavanagh or cause her serious harm and falsely imprisoning her at the Clayton Hotel, Sandyford, on March 11, 2017.
Ms Kavanagh (37) has said that she is in a “great place” now and is urging other victims of domestic help to seek help.
The Dubliner said that when she met Stokes in March 2016 she had just relapsed into alcohol and drug addiction and was homeless, her own father had custody of her two children from a previous relationship.
Soon she was living with Stokes in a tent and he had started being abusive.
She told Independent.ie: “Within two weeks the first black eye came, I was shocked but I had been in an abusive relationship before and it didn’t seem as bad as the last time, I thought I could handle it – I just had no self-esteem left.
“It then gradually became that I wouldn’t have to do anything and I’d get a slap – if I turned my eyes up to Heaven, if I began to walk a bit faster or if I said something smart, it didn’t matter what it was really, he would give me a slap.
“When you’re on the streets and strung out on heroin you just think you have to put up with it.
“I didn’t let on to anyone I knew what was happening, it’s crazy looking back but I thought if I just put on a show and a smile then I was being strong.”
Ms Kavanagh didn’t realise when she met Stokes that she was already pregnant with someone else’s baby.
Stokes vowed to raise the baby and Ms Kavanagh said she hoped that it would bring them closer together.
“I thought it would be safer to stay with him for me and the baby rather than to leave, otherwise he would have tried to kill me.
“I still had love left for him, I saw goodness in him and I clung onto that, I think most women in violent relationships think that and try to make them love you more and hit you less – I thought the baby might fix him but he knew it wasn’t his and it only made him worse.”
Ms Kavanagh’s son was born in September 2016, by that stage she was sober, she was not taking drugs and was on a methadone programme but she weighed just six stone and she says Stokes’ had become increasingly violent.
She recalls: “He was still beating me, one night he hit me with a dumbbell to try to get the baby out – when my stomach started to get bigger he would just aim for my face instead.
“Throughout my pregnancy I had broken ribs, a broken cheekbone, a broken eye-socket, he bit off a bit of my ear but I felt like I had nowhere to go.”
She also claims that he threatened that if she left him he would rape her teenage daughter.
In February 2016 Stokes set fire to their home at Booterstown Halting site in Dublin, causing €21,000 worth of damage and leaving them homeless.
Ms Kavanagh and her son entered a refuge, she says she returned to Stokes after two weeks as he was threatening her, her children and father.
She calls that time “mayhem”, the couple were living in hotels with her infant son and Ms Kavanagh claims Stokes was drinking heavily and continuing to attack her.
She said: “It was a build up in his head, I’d left him twice and he knew I was building up more and more courage to leave for good.”
She says things came to a head on March 11 2017 when he caught her trying to pour alcohol down the sink in their room in the Clayton Hotel in Sandyford.
The mum-of-three said: “He smashed my head off the bathroom mirror and dragged me into the bedroom, I was trying to calm him down but he saw red.
“He pinned me onto the bed and was punching me, I was screaming to get him to stop but he started choking me.
“My son and was in the next bed and Paddy got up and said, ‘I’m going to kill you – first of all I’m going to tie you to a chair and let you watch me kill him, then I’ll kill you and kill myself.’
“I ran for the door to try to get help but he grabbed the baby by the scruff of his neck, literally hanging, and he had a knife in the other hand.
“I came back in because I didn’t want him to hurt the baby.
“He threw the baby face down onto the floor, he wasn’t even big enough to roll and he was screaming.
“I went to go for the baby but Paddy lurched at me and started beating me again, saying he would kill me.”
She did manage to throw the knife out the window and calm Stokes down.
She said: “We stayed there for a while, crying, me saying I’d never leave him but I was already making a plan to get out of there safely, for the sake of me and my kids.”
On March 21, Ms Kavanagh and Stokes were staying in a B&B in Dublin’s north-inner city when he went to the shops and she managed to get to safety with the help of gardai and social workers.
She spent weeks in a women’s refuge and entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, which she calls life-changing.
Ms Kavanagh said: “I’d no dignity or self-respect left but he refuge made me see the violence wasn’t me or anything I’d done but it was all about him and him trying to control me, I had to get clean to see the bigger picture.”
She said the months after she left him were “very lonely and confusing.”
Ms Kavanagh said that she is “proud” that he has been sent to prison and she hopes her story can inspire others.
“The hotel attack was only one day, he put us through hell for an entire year.
“If I could reach out to even one woman I would feel like I had achieved something.
“There are girls out there who think because they’re on Methadone it’s as good as it will get, that slaps are all you’re worth but I had to stand up for the baby.
“I knew this wasn’t a life of me or my kids, I knew the violence, homelessness or addiction wasn’t what I want.
“I was proud at the sentencing, it’s not just the sentence but being heard because I know so many women aren’t in these situations.
“For a judge and the State to see him for who he was because of me did me proud.”
She said she is overwhelmed by how much things have changed over the past year and she is looking to the future.
“I take every day as it comes, I’d like to work to do more to raise awareness about domestic violence.
“Right now I’m waiting on a home, I’ve been in and out of refuges, family hubs and hotels but I’m on the council list for a house now.
“I’m in a great place in my mind right now, I’m clean, alive, I’m my baby with me and I’ve joint custody of my older kids.
“I’m in a new relationship and I feel like happiness is there for the taking and now I’ve got mine.
“I hope now with being clean and a fresh mindset I’ll never be in that kind of situation again,” she said.
Article courtesy of Kathy Armstrong and Sonya McLean. Independent.ie