My abusive ex smashed my phone, wouldn’t let me out alone and threatened to bury me while I was pregnant – I thought I had to accept that’s how life should be
- Natalie Wood, 29, suffered a miscarriage following one of the vicious attacks
- READ MORE: Woman forced to eat photos of relatives by her ex is living in fear
A woman whose ex-boyfriend repeatedly assaulted her and threatened to kill her has urged women to be on the lookout for crucial ‘red flags’.
Natalie Wood, 29, from West Yorkshire, said she’s ‘lucky to be alive’ after her ex George Bannister, 31, held a knife to her throat and threatened to bury her on the moors.
The mother-of-two suffered the violent attack – which occured when she was three months pregnant – after initially being ‘love bombed’ with affection by her ‘calm’ ex partner.
Love bombing is when someone pours love and affection on you through exaggerated gestures, in an attempt to manipulate and subsequently control you within the relationship.
George’s behaviour has since met the full weight of the law, after pleading guilty to two counts of making threats to kill, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of assault by beating – he was jailed for five years and four months.
Natalie Wood (pictured), 29, from West Yorkshire, is speaking out after being ‘love bombed’ by her ex partner before he threatened to kill her
The mother-of-two said she’s ‘lucky to be alive’ after her ex George Bannister, 31, repeatedly assaulted her
Now Natalie is advising women to take note if things ‘feel to good to be true’ and hopes they’ll learn from her story: ‘When we were together, George was so manipulative and controlling that I couldn’t see any future. I couldn’t make a decision for myself.
‘I feel lucky to have walked away from it all and I would like other women to learn from this’.
During the terrifying ordeal, Natalie was 12 weeks pregnant with George’s child, a father himself, but later tragically miscarried.
The heartbreaking event would prove to be the turning point in their abusive relationship.
The couple first met on a dating site early in 2022 and Natalie had high hopes for their relationship: ‘George told me he worked in the family business, he was good-looking, well-presented, and very charming.
‘He showered me with compliments, he said he loved my hair and told me I was beautiful. I was a single mum with two children and the attention was very flattering.
‘He was a dad himself, which made me warm to him. Our relationship moved very quickly, he was passionate, and it was exciting.
‘We didn’t go out much, but I didn’t mind, because I was happy staying in with my kids. But I later realised it was because George didn’t like other men looking at me.
The couple first met on a dating site early in 2022 and Natalie had high hopes for their relationship (Pictured: Natalie and her violent ex, George)
George, a dad himself, initially appeared ‘calm’ and ‘charming’ said Natalie, before embarking on a violent crusade against the mum (Natalie is pictured with various bruises on her face)
‘One night, we did go out to the pub, and I took ages fastening my bodysuit in the loo. He was really angry, accusing me of somehow having another man in the ladies’ loos. It was ridiculous.
‘He flew into a rage at home but afterwards, he was so calm and collected that I questioned whether he had done anything wrong at all. I thought perhaps I was over-reacting’.
By July 2022, the couple were engaged, and booked a holiday to Greece to celebrate. But George refused to stay in a hotel because he feared other men would ogle her.
He became so ‘controlling’ that he insisted the couple stay in a remote villa, without access to other men. He even accused Natalie of conducting affairs in the ladies’ toilets of a pub.
‘He booked a remote villa in the mountains, and we didn’t see a soul’ said Natalie.
‘One night, we were allowed to go to a restaurant, but he accused me of looking at the workmen and we had to leave’.
By now, Natalie had chucked in her job at a school in favour of working for George’s family’s business.
He would end up moving in with her, causing her to feel increasingly trapped.
In one instance, Natalie said George ‘smashed my phone and burned my sim on the hob, whilst I watched. If I wanted to use the phone, I had to borrow his’
George pleaded guilty to two counts of making threats to kill, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of assault by beating. He has also been made subject to a 10-year restraining order
She said: ‘I did think about leaving, but I was tied to him in so many ways. I worked hard, paying all the bills, and George just controlled everything I did.
‘I was supposed to be a bridesmaid twice and I pulled out both times, and lost friends because of it. But George just didn’t let me do stuff like that.
‘I was only allowed to get my eyelashes done if he drove me there and waited outside for me. I began to accept this was how my life was.
‘He smashed my phone and burned my sim on the hob, whilst I watched. If I wanted to use the phone, I had to borrow his’.
By August, a confused Natalie discovered that she was pregnant and George seemingly appeared pleased.
However things came to a head when he booked yet another celebratory getaway for the two.
‘I wasn’t sure about having another baby, I had two children already, I was in a three bedroom house and I didn’t feel it was the right time. But George was very insistent.
‘We booked a weekend away but one night at the lodge, he’d been drinking, and he lost his temper. He pushed me over the back of an L-shape sofa, and I landed on a coffee table and hurt my back. He counted: “one, two, three you had better run”.
‘I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do’.
After they arrived back home, Natalie asked George to leave, and he agreed to move back in with his parents, albeit temporarily.
Days later, he seemed to have accepted her decision, and asked her to visit his parents’ home so they could exchange belongings.
Natalie continued: ‘I felt encouraged by that. I went round, thinking there would be people there, and it would amicable’. But when she arrived, George was alone.
‘I walked into the living room, and he began shouting: “Tell me who you’re sleeping with” over and over again’ said Natalie.
‘He snatched my keys and headbutted me. I was hysterical. He brought a big kitchen knife and held it against my neck. He told me he would kill me, and kill himself, and he would bury me on the moors.
‘He said he had tape and a rope in his car and his plan was to tie me up and put me in the boot. I thought I’d never see my children again. I was so scared.
‘I was pleading with him to let me go. I started telling him how much I loved him and that I could see a way for us to get back together. I just wanted him to calm down.
‘Slowly, it seemed to work, and he agreed to let me go home and make him a meal. I ran out, despite my injuries, and jumped in the car. I knew he was following me, in his car, and he kept me on the phone the whole journey’.
Natalie locked herself inside her home, but a furious George arrived moments later and barged in, smashing a bottle of wine on her wall and trying to strangle her in the living room.
Again, she managed to calm him down, and she seized her chance to call 999. He fled but was arrested two days later.
Natalie was treated for cuts and bruises, including a swelling on her head.
For victims of domestic abuse, Natalie says you don’t have to go through it alone, and has urged victims to seek help (Pictured: Natalie’s bruised arm)
A ultrasound scan, at the end of September showed her baby had no heartbeat, and she had sadly miscarried: ‘I felt sure all the stress had contributed to me losing the baby. I was heartbroken’.
George appeared before Leeds Crown Court in April this year and was jailed for five years and four months.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of making threats to kill, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of assault by beating. He has also been made subject to a 10-year restraining order.
Recounting her experience in the courtroom, Natalie explained: ‘I was in court, and I read my own impact statement. It was very important to me to see justice done. I wanted to him to know what he had put me and my children through.
‘The court case felt like a new start for me. I feel safe, knowing he is behind bars. I can rebuild my life again’.
For victims of domestic abuse, Natalie says you don’t have to go through it alone: ‘There is support out there. PDAP have helped me get better security for my house, and I’ve had access to group programmes to learn more about domestic abuse.
‘My advice would be if a person idolises you and it feels too good to be true, it’s usually because it is. If you think you’re seeing red flags, get help sooner rather than later, and plan your escape properly.
‘I am so lucky to be alive and I want other women to read my story and learn from it’.
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