Heart stabbing husband's domestic violence ordeal

Ben KendallA man who narrowly survived a knife attack at the hands of his wife last night spoke out to challenge the stigma surrounding male victims of domestic violence.Ben Kendall

A man who narrowly survived a knife attack at the hands of his wife last night spoke out to challenge the stigma surrounding male victims of domestic violence.

Norwich Crown Court heard how Kieron Bell had required emergency surgery after his wife plunged a steak knife into his chest - missing his heart by about an inch - following a routine argument. Doctors described his chances of survival as 50/50.

When police arrived at the couple's flat in Albion Road, Great Yarmouth, Sarah Bell, told officers her husband had accidentally fallen onto the knife. After being arrested and charged she sent him a message on social networking website Facebook reading: 'When I get out of prison I'm going to stab you again.'

Mrs Bell, 25, was yesterday jailed for four and a half years after admitting wounding with intent following the attack in April. Judge Paul Downes said the only way the charge could be more serious was if it had been 'attempted murder or murder'.

Outside court, Mr Bell described how he had been forced to contact police a number of times during their volatile three-year relationship.

The 34-year-old added he had initially been reluctant to seek help, thinking he would be judged as weak for allowing a woman to abuse him. But he praised the police for the way in which they handled the case and said friends and family had also rallied around in a show of support.

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Mr Bell, who is currently in the process of divorcing Mrs Bell, said: 'Our relationship had always been troubled and often it was tit-for-tat. But sometimes she would be completely out of control and abuse me physically and verbally.

'I was worried about talking to the police - I thought people might laugh at me or not take it seriously. But now I'm glad I did it because it means I can get on with rebuilding my life.'

Mr Bell now has an 11-inch scar across his heart and suffers flashbacks to the attack.

Mitigating on behalf of Mrs Bell, who now lives in Leicestershire, Andrew Oliver said she had suffered from depression. He added: 'She has now moved away and formed a new relationship and hopes to put all of this behind her.'

Speaking after the case, Det Insp Paul Garrard, from Norfolk police's domestic abuse investigation unit, said that domestic violence was not uncommon among men.

He added: 'Domestic abuse presents itself in many ways, including physical, sexual, psychological and financial behaviours; it is about power and control.'

During his three-year relationship with Sarah Bell, Kieron Bell says he suffered frequent abuse. This culminated in a near-fatal knife attack in April last year.

He said: 'At times our relationship was fine and we were happy together. But towards the end it was deteriorating more and more and she would lash out at me.

'She could be very controlling, always asking me where I was going and what I was doing. If we weren't together she would ring me constantly to check up on me.

'Although our relationship was volatile, the night she attack me was out of character because it was so serious. It happened so suddenly and I didn't have a chance to defend myself.

'At first I was scared to talk to the police - I'm a man and you think that a woman shouldn't be able to affect you in that way.

'But once I began speaking about it, it was a huge relief. The police handled it very well and people who knew me congratulated me on what I was doing.

'I'll never fully recover; I have physical and psychological problems even now.

'I'm in a new relationship but I'm taking it very steady. I think I'll always be cautious when it comes to relationships because I don't want to end up in the same situation again.'