If I left her, I would be killed  (watch BBC TV Breakfast segment)

There’s a widespread belief that it’s mainly women who are the victims of violence in the home, but a study suggests that as many as 40% of victims are men.

The group Parity, which campaigns for men’s rights, says that male victims are often ignored by police and there are only a handful of refuge places for abused men across the UK.

Ian McNicholl, who was abused by a partner, and Mark Brooks from the Mankind Initiative spoke to BBC Breakfast.

Revealed: The 5ft 1in girlfriend who beat her businessman partner so badly he needed cosmetic surgery after two years of horrific abuse

  • Michelle Williamson sprayed bleach in Ian McNicholl’s eyes
  • She put lit cigarettes up his nose and scalded his arm with an iron
  • He also suffered attacks involving hammers and metal bars
  • Girlfriend was jailed for seven years for GBH

By Nick Enoch UPDATED: 09:57 GMT, 26 January 2012


This is the first picture of 5ft 1in Michelle Williamson, who beat her businessman boyfriend so severely that he almost lost his arm

Michelle Williamson beat her businessman boyfriend so severely, he almost lost his arm and will need cosmetic surgery to heal his scars. (Pictured outside Grimsby Crown Court in 2008)

This is the first picture of 5ft 1in Michelle Williamson, who beat her businessman boyfriend so severely that he almost lost his arm and will need cosmetic surgery to heal his horrific scars.

Ian McNicholl, 49, from Hull, suffered two years of abuse at the hands of his girlfriend, including one attack where she sprayed bleach in his eyes.

He also suffered fractures to his skull, cheekbones, and nose, three cracked ribs and horrific burns on his arm from an iron at the hands of his ex-girlfriend.

Williamson, who is now serving a seven-year jail sentence for causing grievous bodily harm, also lit cigarettes and shoved them up her partner’s nose after falsely accusing him of having an affair.

On one occasion, she also poured two kettles full of boiling water over him – and even attacked him with a vacuum cleaner.

Ian, who is now preparing for the surgery, said: ‘It was between Christmas and New Year (in 2006) when she first accused me of having an affair with one of her friends.

‘This was the first time she lashed out.

‘She punched me in the face and I had a black eye.’

Williamson begged him for forgiveness, saying it was just a one-off and soon moved into his flat in Grimsby.

However a few weeks later she launched another attack with the vacuum cleaner.

Ian recalled: ‘She began ranting and raving about previous partners of mine.

‘Then, all of a sudden, she switched the vacuum cleaner off, grabbed the nozzle and whacked me across the face with it. I could feel my cheek split.’

This was the first of many outbursts of domestic violence from the then 34-year-old and the attacks got progressively worse.

His worst ordeal came when Williamson poured a kettle full of boiling water into his lap and, while he was screaming in agony, she reboiled the kettle and poured it over him again.

He continued: ‘She would show off my injuries to her friends.

‘I felt as though I couldn’t walk away, because she told me she had family who were involved in organised crime who would kill me if I left her.

‘I felt I was trading with my life.

I was brought up well and taught never to hit a woman – and I didn’t lay a finger on her.’

The night before Williamson’s arrest, Mr McNicholl endured an attack that lasted almost seven hours, where he was beaten with a metal bar and his body smashed in places with a claw hammer.

An anonymous phone call tipped off the police, who took him to Hull Royal Infirmary and arrested Williamson.


Although the violence had come to an end, Mr McNicholl didn’t realise the aftermath would be just as bad.

He woke up the following day to find himself in a night shelter for the homeless, wearing his bloodstained clothes from the day before.

Rebuilding his life: Ian McNicholl is to have cosmetic surgery to treat scars left after he was the victim of violence from a former girlfriend
Ian McNicholl shows an indent on his shoulder blade caused by a hammer

Injuries: Among Ian McNicholl’s injuries were fractures to his skull, cheekbones, and nose. Right, he shows damage to his shoulder that was caused by a hammer attack

Ian McNicholl, 49, from Hull, shows a scar on his arm caused by an iron

Ian McNicholl, 49, from Hull, shows a scar on his arm caused by an iron

He said: ‘Michelle had taken control of my finances and run up lots of debt. I didn’t have any money and didn’t know where to go or what to do.

‘I was petrified walking the streets of Hull, as I was paranoid her brothers were going to come and kill me. As it turns out, they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know that at the time.’

 After a phone call to the Salvation Army, he was given accommodation at William Booth Life House, where he stayed for 18 months, and he received psychological help and support from The Men’s Helpline.

Now, Mr McNicholl has dedicated his life to helping the homeless – being appointed vice-chairman of Hull’s Homelessness Focus Group.

He added: ‘I can completely understand why some men will feel embarrassed speaking out – men generally don’t like talking about their feelings.

‘But the bigger issue is that lots of men don’t know where to go for help and there’s a lot of gender bias.

The massive problem is that men are not seen as victims.

‘We need a gender neutral awareness campaign, or even a male-specific one.’

Despite his experience, Ian isn’t put off having a relationship again.

‘It’s going to be difficult when I meet someone who doesn’t know what I’ve been through,’ said Ian.

‘They will no doubt ask about my scars, and I’m not going to lie.

‘My fear is that they will wonder what I did to deserve it.’

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