A woman who was assaulted and forcibly checked over the course of a six-week relationship said she was “relieved” that the case was over but had to deal with a lot of paranoia and fear.
Inéad O’Neill said she will now rebuild her life with the help and support of family and friends.
Dean Ward, 36, of Ballintlea, Hollyfort, Gorey, Co Wexford, was convicted after a trial earlier this year of four counts of assault, false imprisonment, threats to kill, manufacture of articles on two counts and three counts of rape and coercive control on dates between June 11 and July 17, 2019.
The crimes occurred within six weeks between the woman’s first encounter with the man in May 2019 and his arrest by armed Gardaí at her home in July 2019. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Ms O’Neill said she became suspicious shortly after meeting Ward and told him she did not want to see him again.
She tried to cut ties with him but was alarmed when he walked through her front door one morning.
“He just wouldn’t go away, I met him on a Friday and when Sunday came I thought I had work in the morning, don’t you have any work? And of course he gave me a fake name, he didn’t actually work but he said he worked on a construction site in Mullingar,” she said.
“He first said he couldn’t return to the site because he had to complete a safety pass course, and after that he was on annual leave. It was pretty clear I wanted him to leave, but I didn’t mean to be rude.
“He had said something about spending more time together to get to know each other and then he left on Wednesday to take the Safe Pass course on Thursday and he had texted me on Thursday that he was happy would come back, but he would not come back until very late.
“I got suspicious then, but then he came clean and said he had lied to me and that he actually lived in Dublin, which of course was another lie, but I had told him I didn’t want him to come back, and I put my phone on silent and he blasted my phone with texts and calls.
“I turned it off and went to sleep and the next morning I got up and got ready upstairs and he walked in the door and I didn’t know what to make of it. Then he told me that he had slept in my shed.”
Ms O’Neill said Ward controlled her access to friends and family, took over her online banking, monitored her whereabouts and cell phone.
“He hacked into my social media accounts and deleted everything I had on my Facebook. I got very stuck, he was monitoring all my messages, he was tracking my phone. He could see her before I saw her. He followed all my movements from the phone,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Ms O’Neill eventually sought the help of her boss, who insisted on helping the Donegal woman.
“I was just so embarrassed and ashamed of everything he had done that I didn’t want anyone to know, and I had convinced myself that I was strong enough, and maybe even smart enough, to get out of the way.” situation,” she said.
“I had annual leave just before I left to go to Cork to meet my family, so by that point I had kind of convinced myself that I just had to come to Cork, to my family, and I could find out from.” there.
“But things got very intense, very fast and there were so many threats in my life that one day at work I broke down to my boss and told her what was going on.
“She completely took the reins, I mean if it wasn’t for her I would have to give a lot of people credit for being alive, but initially I wouldn’t be alive without her. She kept telling me, ‘Sinead, you won’t survive this, he’s going to kill you.’
“But she kept pushing and thank God she did.”
She commended the Gardaí involved in her case and said she struggled to understand the extent of the abuse she endured after it was documented on paper.
“The problem was that when I wrote my original statement, when I saw everything on paper, I was very upset because I was like, how did I survive that,” she said.
“But there was also this element, how the hell is anyone going to believe. It happened to me and I’m reading it, but it’s just too much to take in, it can’t be true.
Ms O’Neill urged other victims of domestic violence not to be ashamed or embarrassed and to seek help.
“I would say please reach out if you are in this situation, just think there is no hope and there is such a terrible stigma attached to abuse. You shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed, the person doing this to you should be ashamed and embarrassed,” she said.
“There’s so much help out there and I think it’s a big thing too, it’s believed, it’s taken seriously.
“I’m absolutely blown away by the messages I’ve received, just very kind and very supportive and I just hope more women get in touch.”
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https://www.independent.ie/news/sinead-oneill-on-six-week-coercive-control-relationship-it-was-clear-i-wanted-him-to-leave-he-told-me-he-slept-in-the-shed-41876421.html Sinead O’Neill on Six-Week Forced Control Relationship: ‘It was clear I wanted him to leave…he told me he slept in the shed’