UPDATE: Woman subjected to terrifying hammer attack by ex-boyfriend looking forward to new life with loving fiance

Happy couple looking forward to the future: Claire Harrison and fiance Damien Selleck
Happy couple looking forward to the future: Claire Harrison and fiance Damien Selleck

An Aylesbury woman subjected to a terrifying hammer attack by her ex-boyfriend says she can now move on with her life after he was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Darren Stenhouse beat mother-of-three Claire Harrison with a hammer and held her hostage in her Belgrave Road home after she ended their violent four-year relationship.

Darren Stenhouse

Darren Stenhouse

Five months on from the savage assault, Miss Harrison, 30, is engaged to new partner Damien Selleck and told The Bucks Herald it ‘feels amazing’ to be free.

Although she will never forget the attack, which she described as ‘the most frightening thing’ ever to happen to her, Miss Harrison feels safe with Stenhouse behind bars.

And she called on anyone else suffering at the hands of an abusive partner to speak up and seek help.

Miss Harrison said: “There is a way out and you have to take it for your sake and your family’s sake. No one has to suffer. These people who abuse their partners are nothing, they’re no one, don’t waste your life on them.”

After meeting Stenhouse at the former Chicago’s nightclub in Aylesbury back in 2009, Miss Harrison says they became ‘inseparable’ and she fell ‘head over heels’ in love with him. However, after he moved in with her and her children it quickly became clear Stenhouse had a drinking problem and he became aggressive towards her, which included slapping her and pulling her hair.

Following a more violent assault on Miss Harrison in March 2011, Stenhouse spent time in prison.

Miss Harrison did not resume their relationship when he was released, but says she felt ‘compelled’ to help him and he eventually moved back in with her.

The abuse soon started again and Miss Harrison tried to get rid of Stenhouse as she wanted to begin a new relationship with her current fiancé. When he found out about this, Stenhouse had to be forcibly removed from the house by police.

Five days later he carried out the attack for which he has now been jailed.

Miss Harrison says it was hard to leave Stenhouse because of the influence he had over her and threats he made.

She said: “They get in your mind and make you feel as if no one would want you. He said if I left he would come after me, so you just stay in that situation and do as you’re told.

“You spend your life walking on eggshells. I always clung to the hope that maybe I could change him. You have to want to get out badly enough. There is help out there for people that want it.”

Miss Harrison says she and her family plan to move house as she still suffers flashbacks of the attack just by walking into rooms and is looking forward to getting married.

She said: “If it wasn’t for Damien showing me it’s possible not to have a violent relationship I may not have had another relationship.”