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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Trial 'highlights abuse problems'
Wendy Ellis
Wendy Ellis lived through a decade of abuse, the court heard
The case of Wendy Ellis, cleared of murdering her violent partner, highlights the plight of women who face domestic abuse, says Welsh Women's Aid.

The support organisation said one in four women will be affected by domestic violence at some point in their life.

For Ms Ellis, 40, that meant more than a decade of "fearsome" abuse, Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

It included having her jaw broken in three places by William McAuley, according to the evidence.

"On average a woman will be attacked 35 times before she reports it," said Elen Pierce, the director of Welsh Women's Aid.

"It is systematic [abuse], it's not about a one-off quarrel."

A healthy relationship doesn't mean you want power and control over other individuals
Elen Pierce
Welsh Women's Aid

The court heard Wendy Ellis lived through more than a decade of sustained physical, mental and emotional abuse.

She described how Mr McAuley, 38, a former Royal Welch Fusilier, would demand money for drink and cannabis.

If she didn't hand it over, he "just went nuts," she told the jury.

McAuley was described by some as gentle, meek and mild when sober.

But Ms Ellis told the court after a drink he would undergo a "Jekyll and Hyde" transformation.

On one occasion, after her partner had been on a three-day drinking binge, a row ended with her pushed to the floor with a poker at her head, hitting the ground so hard her jaw was broken in three places.

Domestic violence silhouette
As many as 27,000 women a year report domestic abuse in Wales
But the court also heard that Ms Ellis could often give as good as she got.

"They were as bad as each other," William McAuley's sister, Jayne, told the jury.

Recalling an incident in which her brother was stabbed in the arm, she said she told Ms Ellis: "You two are going to kill each other one of these days."

The dead man's sister said Ms Eliis repled: "Yes, I know."

In court, Wendy Ellis was quizzed over why she had not left Mr McAuley if the relationship had been so violent.

But Welsh Women's Aid said that was often the case when dealing with domestic abuse. It also said most people who contacted them for help were being abused by former spouses or partners.

However, Elen Pierce, Welsh Women's Aid's director added the picture of domestic violence in Wales was changing.

"Now it is recognised that it isn't appropriate behaviour," she said.

"A healthy relationship doesn't mean you want power and control over other individuals."

She said that message was filtering down to younger people.

"There is a better understanding even in our education system that this is not appropriate, that violence is not a good idea," she added.

SEE ALSO
'Dog basket' woman tells of abuse
24 Jul 07 |  North East Wales
Sister welcomes abuse crackdown
01 Dec 06 |  South East Wales

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