Raped by boyfriend and his mate.

My friend Rachel finished her glass of wine and got up. ‘I’d better be going.’

‘I’ll see you out,’ I said.

‘See you soon.’ Danny said turning back to the ironing.

I’d hardly shut the door before he was on my back; ‘Nice girl. Do you reckon she’d be up for a threesome?

Not again. ‘I’m going to check on the kids,’ I said.

How did it come to this? I wondered as I climbed the stairs.

I’d met Danny, a nightclub DJ in 2001 on a girls’ night out. I was 21 with two young kids and a marriage that had just fallen apart. He was so charming, showering me with compliments.

‘Think you’re in there,’ my friends teased.

To be honest I didn’t really fancy him. But it was nice to get some attention for once. It felt good to be desired again. There were so many pretty girls here he could have had but he’d chosen me.

So when he asked me out, I agreed. Why not? I figured. I’d always played it safe. Maybe it was time to do something crazy. Against the background of my strict upbringing, Danny seemed exciting.

And it soon became clear that Danny was all about pushing the boundaries. He was much more experienced than me and always pressuring me to try new things.

‘I’m not sure I’m really into that,’ I told him when he first suggested we try something a bit more adventurous in the bedroom.

But Danny was used to getting what he wanted.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll like it better next time,’ he told me afterwards.

He was desperate to have a threesome. When I told him I wasn’t interested he called me boring and frigid and said the things that he wanted were ‘normal.’

It was pretty clear we didn’t have much in common, still when he suggested he move in after just a fortnight, despite everything I found myself agreeing. He could be so persuasive.

He was also having trouble with his ex-partner and trying to get custody of the kids.

‘I need to be able to give the courts a proper address,’ he said.

So my spare room became home to his DJ equipment and then at weekends, his son, then eight, and daughter, three.

‘They should be with me all the time,’ he’d rage as he watched them play with my two.

I was impressed with how good a dad he was. He also did all the ironing and was a good cook too, always getting me to try new meals he’d made. I told myself that maybe I needed give a little. That was what relationships were all about after all; give and take.

But no matter how much I tried to accommodate him in the bedroom department, Danny was never satisfied. Two months later we were in bed together and he kept taking things one step further.

The next day I was still bleeding and in so much pain that I ended up in hospital. Too ashamed to tell them what had really happened, they carried out test after test.

Back home, Russ tried to be more gentle. For a bit. Then he went back to his old ways.

He would rape me and afterwards as I lay numb, tell me ‘I’m entitled to do this because you’re my common law wife.’

I tried to leave, took the kids to my mum’s. But Danny appeared in tears, begged to have me back.

‘I’m so sorry I got carried away,’ he sobbed. ‘It won’t happen again. I promise.’

But of course it did. And with each time it became easier to accept what was happening to me. I was so damaged that I even began to believe that perhaps he was right; perhaps I was boring in bed compared to other women.

But Russ’ demands got worse. Rape, not sex, became the norm. Danny told me it was ‘just role play’ and what all couples did.

‘Stop making a fuss!’ he said, banging his fist down on the bedside table.

As time passed, Danny’s’ violence moved outside the bedroom. I realised his caring father act was just that; an act. One day, when I’d done something to annoy him, he headbutted me.

I stood there in shock as the blood from my broken nose ran down my face.

You know this isn’t right, a little voice said.

‘I think you should leave’ I told him. ‘Get out!’

But the next day he broke down saying how sorry he was. And like a fool, I took him back.

Over the next few months I tried to leave him again and again but each time I went back.

Then Danny’s kids came to live with us full time. Now it felt harder than ever to leave. I felt a duty to stay and protect them. I felt trapped.