‘I walked down the aisle on my wedding day shaking with nerves, I realise now my body was telling me not to do it. I should have listened, I might not have got the hiding I did later that night.’

Meath woman. Sharon, (not her real name), is currently going through divorce proceedings, after a marriage blighted by both physical and mental violence and she offers one stark piece of advice to others caught up in that situation.

‘When you see the evidence of what he is really like for the first time then believe your own eyes and don’t listen to any excuses.’

Sharon’s an expert in excuses, both in hearing them and believing them, and she readily recites them back.

‘I have mental health problems, I am going to see my GP, I’ll get treatment, I’ll go for treatment, I have heard and fallen for them all.

‘Excuses are like sticking plasters they cover things up.

‘The bloke I was married to was a narcissist and a manipulator, think about this, in Ireland we, especially women, are reared to try and help, so when your partner tells you he is mentally ill or needs treatment the natural instinct is to stick with them and try and help out, the night thing to do is walk away from a violent partner but we are programmed to try and help.’

Sharon had a child in her marriage, but rather than improve things the baby made things worse, and yet it still provided the impetus she needed to leave.

‘When the baby arrived my attention was taken away from my husband and he wasn’t happy with that at all, he started to try and undermine my ability as a mother, and around the same time I had a bereavement in the family so you can just imagine the mental turmoil I was going through.

‘What the child did though was stop me from having suicidal thoughts, it gave me something to live for but more importantly it gave me a reason to leave, I was never going to see my child manipulated and treated as badly as I had been.’

Ultimately Sharon was afforded an open goal of an exit when she discovered her husband was having an affair so she walked away.

‘People have asked me would I not tell his new partner what he is really like and the honest answer is no because she wouldn’t believe me if I did, he’s turned on the charm and she thinks she has her ideal man, well so did I when I first met him.

‘Even to the very end he has to be in control, if anyone asks him he is divorcing me not the other way around he has to be seen as the one in charge of the situation.

‘I don’t have a problem with that at all, divorcing me is the best thing he ever done for me.

‘Will I ever fall in love again? I’d like to think so, certainly I’d hate to think I’d never trust another man, that would mean he’s won.

‘I suppose I’d be ultra cautious though as what I fell in love with the first time was a lie, when I saw the real him I should have walked away immediately, but sure what is it they say better late than never.’