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Domestic abuse victim: ‘I feared for my life’

As cases of violence in Islington increase, mother slashed in face by her ex-partner tells of trauma

17 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Tanya Pinnock: ‘I stayed under his control for many years because of fear’

A MOTHER who was slashed in the face with a Stanley knife by her ex-partner after a decade of abuse has spoken about her traumatic experience for the first time – as figures show a year-on-year increase in domestic violence cases in Islington.

Tanya Pinnock was stepping into a taxi in Hornsey Road where she attended the London Metropolitan University when her partner Carlington Francis launched a frenzied attack on the mother of his children by stabbing her face several times in 2016. By grim coincidence, it happened on International Women’s Day.

That was one of 2,248 reported domestic violence attacks to happen in the 12 months up to January 2017 in Islington.

The number of reported attacks increased year-on-year up to 2,597 in January 2019, then fell slightly in the last 12 months to 2,525, according to Met Police data.

Islington Council has pledged to pump £2million into services supporting women and girls involved in domestic violence over the next three years.

Ms Pinnock will co-chair the Islington Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) board which will supervise this cash injection.

The 39-year-old, who lived in Balfe Street in King’s Cross, told the Tribune: “Fear. I stayed under his control for many years because of fear. Fear for my life and fear for my children’s life.

“It’s hard to explain. They take over your whole mind. The only way I can describe the abuse is soul destroying. Physically, mentally and psychologically they have so much control of you.”

Francis was a charming man when he first met Ms Pinnock, but when she fell pregnant he started to control her.

His abuse took many forms from manipulation and verbal attacks to physical violence.

When the mother-of-four gave birth to Francis’s three children he would refuse to allow her to take any pain relief.

Over the near decade-long ordeal police were unable to pin enough evidence on Francis to take him to court.

“As much as I feared him, I became dependent on him,” she said. “Your confidence is so low that when I decided to leave him it felt dark. For days I would sit alone. That moment someone decides to free themselves of their oppressor is so important and so dangerous. That is when a majority of fatal domestic violence attacks happen.”

Ms Pinnock started studying for a BA in education studies at the Metropolitan University as she tried to rid herself of Francis. It was at this point that she was attacked by him on Tuesday March 8, 2016.

She suffered deep cuts to her face and severed a tendon in her hand as she tried to defend herself, requiring more than 40 stitches.

She was later told by her family that her chin was hanging from her face.

Francis was arrested in Heathrow the day after the attack. He was found guilty of GBH with intent at Blackfriars Crown Court later that year and given 21 years.

Ms Pinnock graduated from Metropolitan University with a 2:1 and she now works with women and girls who have experienced trauma.

“I was angry, but now I am on a very different journey,” she said. “I want to help professionals in the industry understand how much of an impact their response can have on victims if it is not right. It is vital that they get it right.”

According to the council, 25 of the most serious young offenders under its youth offending team were exposed to domestic violence as they grew up.

This includes children groomed into gangs and sent to towns outside of London to deal drugs in a phenomenon the police call “county lines”.

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told the Tribune last year that young girls are often targeted by gangs to supply drugs as they can be overlooked by the police.

The council’s cash injection will help them recruit a specialist to work with survivors in temporary accommodation, hire a housing-needs expert and employ independent advocates to support young girls.

The Town Hall will also hire specialists to work with perpetrators.

Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance and community safety, said: “As a council, we argue that violence against women and girls not only does lasting harm to those who survive it, but also lies behind many of the other pressing social challenges our community faces, from homelessness to mental ill health to substance misuse to gangs.

“With this budget announcement, we are putting our money where our mouth is and investing heavily to make women and girls in Islington safer, especially in their own homes.”


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