My boyfriend turned into a monster – I lost third of my bodyweight & feared he’d kill me…I found secret way to snare him | The Sun

FEARING for her life, Gabrielle Dale had to think quickly.

She knew a beating at the hands of her violent boyfriend was imminent, so she pressed record on her phone.

In the terrifying audio, the mum-of-one’s distressing screams can be heard as Sean Owen, 29, proceeds to strangle her and threatens to kill her.

Thankfully Gabrielle survived, but it wasn’t until Owen sexually assaulted her that she found the courage to report his abuse to the police.

In April this year Owen was jailed for five years for sexual assault, andcoercive and controlling behaviour.

Now Gabrielle, 26, from Cardiff, is bravely waiving her right to anonymity to encourage other survivors of abuse to speak out and seek help.


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She says: “For seven years, Sean made my life hell. Every day I didn’t know what abuse he’d have in store for me.

“I’m just glad I’m finally free from him. 

“I want others to know there is help out there and they will be believed if they go to the police.”

Gabrielle started dating Owen when she was 16.

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Gabrielle was subjected to seven years of coercive control and physical abuse at the hands of her violent boyfriendCredit: HotSpot Media
Gabrielle is bravely waiving her right to anonymityCredit: HotSpot Media

In September 2015, aged 17, she had a daughter called Lucy, who's now seven.

The following year Owen attacked Gabrielle for the first time. He hit her in the face and threw her across the landing.

"After that, if I put a foot wrong, he’d flip," she recalls. “If I cooked a meal he didn’t want, or if the house wasn’t tidy enough, he’d beat me.”

Soon after Owen started putting Gabrielle down, calling her a "s**g" and "big nosed b***h".

He even demanded she stopped wearing make-up and going out with friends.

Owen’s abuse took its toll and Gabrielle dropped from 9st to 6st in a year.

One day Owen grabbed Gabrielle roughly by the hair and forced her head inside the toilet, before smashing her phone.

She says: “I felt trapped and he made me feel I had no one to turn to.”

At the end of 2017, Gabrielle found the courage to leave Owen and moved into her own place with her daughter.

Soon after she started up her own make-up business.

But Owen still had a hold over Gabrielle and would often turn up, break the lock off her door and demand money.

Eventually he moved in and continued to control her.

In June 2019, fearing a beating was coming from Owen, Gabrielle decided to take matters into her own hands and set her phone to record.

She says: “I wanted evidence of his violence in case he ever killed me. I honestly feared for my life.”

Owen proceeded to drag her by the hair to the bedroom, before pinning her to the bed and strangling her. He then threatened to kill her with a knife. 

She adds: "All I could think about was Lucy, who was fast asleep in the next room.”

Eventually Owen fled, and Gabrielle called the police.

But she ended up dropping the charges after he threatened to kill himself.

By May 2020, Gabrielle had reached breaking point and told Owen to sleep on the sofa while he found somewhere else to live.

But one night, after watching a movie with their daughter, Owen sexually assaulted Gabrielle.

She says: “After Lucy had gone to bed, Sean started rummaging around the bedroom looking for his phone.

I wanted evidence of his violence in case he ever killed me. I honestly feared for my life

“I told him to go to sleep downstairs, but he started pulling the covers off me and searching under the pillows.

“Suddenly he leaned over me and shoved his fingers into my privates.

“I screamed at him to get off me but he did it again and laughed, saying ‘That’s all I wanted to hear’.”

Terrified, Gabrielle waited until the next morning to raise the alarm with the police.

Owen was escorted out of the house and arrested a few days later.

When he was released on bail he sent Gabrielle texts, admitting he'd sexually assaulted her that night.

Gabrielle showed officers the messages during her statement along with the recording from the previous attack in 2019.

Despite this Owen denied the charges and the case went to trial.

In April this year he was found guilty of sexual assault and coercive/controlling behaviour and sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to five years. He was also handed a restraining order.

Gabrielle says: “When I learned he was found guilty, relief washed over me.

“For years, Sean made my life a misery. Now I still look over my shoulder, worried one day I’ll open the door and he’ll be there seeking revenge.

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“But I won’t let him steal my future.

“Please, if you’re in an abusive relationship, tell someone you trust. They can help you escape.”

How you can get help

Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected].

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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