In 2019 my husband was brutally attacked by youths whilst going to the aid of a neighbour. The repercussions of this attack has changed the course of our lives, both physically and mentally and left us in tens of thousands of pounds in debt and struggling to pay our monthly bills.
My husband tried to intervene when our neighbour and her child were being verbally abused by some youths, his aim being to calm the situation. Sadly, the youths turned on my husband and their violence escalated quickly towards him. The attack lasted twenty minutes in which time he was subjected to repeated attacks of physical and verbal abuse. During this time the youths hit him around the head and upper body multiple times and he sustained injuries whilst trying to defend himself. He sustained physical injuries from being hit by multiple objects (not limited to) bricks, wood, chairs and rusty metal jagged poles before a knife was pulled on him. The attack was witnessed by multiple surrounding neighbours who called 999. When the knife was pulled and one of the youths called out for his machete our neighbour pulled my husband, covered in blood, into the safety of their home. Inside the house both my husband and our neighbour were subjected to a tirade of abuse by his attackers. Both the police and ambulance service were called to the scene before the youths fled. Both myself and our two year old daughter witnessed the severity of the attack. Due to the brutality of the attack, the police have since said if he had been knocked out, he would have been killed.
At the scene, my husband was treated by the Paramedics, then taken by ambulance to the local Hospital and treated overnight. Family and friends met him at the hospital. Due to being in shock both myself and our daughter were looked after at home by family members
My husband was admitted to the hospital but not seen or treated for eight hours. His wounds were cleaned and he was discharged with standard painkillers. In the following days his condition deteriorated and we returned to Hospital. My husband explained how he was feeling and raised that he was worried about an infection as there were signs of tracking. A Junior Doctor agreed with this however this was overruled by a Senior Doctor.
Following the events we felt unable to return to our home and moved in with family. Sadly, in the following days my husband’s health deteriorated dramatically and he quickly became bed bound with sickness and fever. Having been given the all clear by the Hospital we initially thought this was shock and a reaction to the attack, but when he failed to get better, he was readmitted to Hospital.
Over the following two weeks my husband remained in hospital. Due to his head swelling, he had several head scans, was admitted to ICU for 5 days and stayed on a ward for a further 8 days continuously attached to a painkiller and various antibiotic drips. When my husband was due to be discharged, we were informed by the Doctor that he had an aggressive form of Sepsis and 9 out of 10 people would not have survived.
During his time in the hospital I was in continuous contact with the police officers on the case. The police kept me up to date with case developments but also needed to know if the charge would change to murder. At points I was preparing myself to relay the news that he had died to his three children, family and friends. Four years on, there are conversations from that time, with the police and family members, that still haunt me.
Prior to him being attacked, he had a ‘can do/get on with it/nothings a problem’ personality and outlook towards life. Following his discharge from hospital, his mental state deteriorated and he was unable to return to full time work. He was anxious and depressed, unsure of himself and suffering with a severe lack of confidence and self-esteem. He suffered with regular flashbacks, nightmares, hallucinations and panic attacks which meant he was unable to sleep. He also suffered with physical effects of brittle nails, hair loss and muscle/joint pains. He was also unable to cope with groups of people or loud/sudden noises. For a year, he dropped down to working part time, working the bare minimum to contribute what he could to our joint monthly outgoings. My husband was unable to take time out from work due to him being Self Employed. At times we were financially supported by family as they could see we were struggling living day to day whilst dealing with severe trauma. We also relied heavily on credit cards which we are still repaying four years on. There have been months where he has missed payments which has had a severe impact on his credit rating.
My husband had appointments with the Doctor who referred him to a Psychologist. Due to the waiting list, he didn’t see the Psychologist for 6 months. During this time he had a number of meetings with a Volunteer from Victim Support. As the meetings always took place in a public space my husband did not feel safe enough to talk fully about what had happened.
When my husband’s sessions with the Psychologist started, it was really tough. He would have to relive the experience multiple times, in person with the Psychologist and again at home listening to a recording off the session. Following each session he would be unable to work and would often take himself to bed. If the session took place on a Friday then he would spend the weekend in bed. Boh my husband and I were prepared to go through this so we could move on as a family and put these events behind us to start anew.
Sadly, half way through the sessions, Covid hit and the appointments were moved to Zoom. Unfortunately this setup did not work for him. He no longer felt he had a safe space to talk and was discharged from the service.
When My husband continued to suffer with muscle and joint pain, he visited the Doctor on multiple occasions but was unsuccessful in getting any help. The pain was severe, he was unable to get out of bed easily in the mornings, had painful arms and shoulders and at his worst unable to walk up the stairs, only able to sleep on the sofa. As his pain continued to worsen, a family member paid for a private appointment with a Rheumatologist. In 2021 he was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, with the Consultant confirming the disease can be triggered by trauma and stress. My husband is now on weekly drugs for the rest of his life to keep potential flare ups under control and to enable him to move about and carry out everyday tasks. Even with the medication, he is still in pain. His symptoms of pain and stiffness disappear at times and then return and worsen at other times. Since my husband’s diagnosis he has been mentally supported by a Clinical Psychologist who is part of the rheumatology team. He still suffers with his mental health, now unsure of himself, struggling with confidence and has crippling anxiety. Because of this, he had to give up his business as he could no longer cope with the responsibility that came with it. He has changed jobs as and when the stress and anxiety became too much and ultimately now has a job working for someone else where there is little stress or responsibility. This reduced responsibility has also resulted in a reduction of income.
Due to the location of his attack (end of our garden) neither my husband nor I felt safe in our home. As we were unable to stay in our house alone for long periods we often stayed with family and friends. This was not a long term solution so we put a fence up around our garden to help us to feel more secure but also so we did not have to look out on the spot where my husband was brutally attacked. Before Covid hit and our daughter started school we were actively pursuing a house move as neither of us wanted to live here anymore. Our house has been in my husband’s family for many generations and we had planned for it to be our forever home but this is not to be. My husband is unhappy and unsettled living here and unable to get up the stairs when he has an Arthritis flare up therefore we have no option but to look at other, more suited accommodation.
Our future now looks very different to how it once did. My husband is now living with a chronic illness and mental health issues. He finds it very frustrating that he can not do the mental and physical things he used to be able to do. Anything that is slightly worrying, disables him. He now has regular blood tests, Doctors appointments and Hospital appointments which further contributes to loss of earnings. He still has difficulty getting to sleep and when he is awake is regularly in pain. As a family, we continue to work through this trauma and new normal together, but it is very hard to move on when you live and look at daily where the attack took place. As a wife and a mother to two young daughters and two teenage stepsons it is a daily struggle to care for both my husband and the children whilst also dealing with my own trauma/mental health. It is very stressful and upsetting. Since then, I have been prescribed sleeping pills and antidepressants. I have tried to reduce the medication but my anxiety and depression spirals and I am unable to function without anxiety and worry. I have had Counselling sessions during particularly bad periods. I cannot stress enough the damage, pain and emotional toll this has taken on our family. There is such little help and support for victims of crime, if you have got this far, thank you for reading.