I was over the moon when I fell unexpectedly pregnant. But when my boyfriend Dale went from doting to dangerous, I feared for our baby’s life… By Louisa-Beth Buckingham, 18

I was just 17 when I met Dale. It was a hot day in June 2017, and my friend and I were out walking in town enjoying the sunshine.

We’d been browsing the shops when a handsome man came over and started chatting to my friend. I wondered who my mate’s good looking buddy could be when he suddenly turned to me.

‘Hi, I’m Dale’ he smiled, flashing me his pearly white teeth, and I blushed. We chatted for a while, and I giggled with my friend after he left about how cute he was.

I couldn’t believe it when Dale messaged my friend to ask for my number. Flattered, I let her pass it on and within minutes, a text flashed up on my mobile screen.

From then on, we were constantly messaging each other.

Dale was 24, and I loved the attention from an attractive older man.

‘When are you going to let me take you on a date?’ he texted after days of flirting, and I happily agreed to meet.

We soon became a couple, and Dale and I were inseparable. He was the perfect boyfriend, charming and funny, and I fell for him quickly.

But my mum wasn’t such a big fan of my new squeeze. ‘I get a weird vibe from him’ she said one day, with a concerned look on her face.

I brushed it off, dismissing it as her just worrying about the seven year age gap between us.

I loved Dale, and it wasn’t long before we moved in together. There were some teething problems, and living together certainly created a few arguments, but I was completely smitten and just wanted to live with my boyfriend.

He was my first love, and I was determined to make it work. Mum warned me to be careful, but love had made me blind and I was certain our arguments would fizzle away once we settled in together.

I set about making our house into a home, and tried to stay out of Dale’s way if he was in a foul mood.

Then one day, I stood in our bathroom alone, my hands trembling. Staring down at the test in my hand, I couldn’t believe it.

Just two months into our relationship, I was pregnant.

My mind was spinning - we hadn’t planned for this at all, and I wondered what Dale would think. But as the shock faded away, the realisation I was pregnant hit me and I started to smile.

I’d always wanted a child, and although this was a bit sooner than expected, I couldn’t miss out on this chance of motherhood.

It must be fate I thought, and excitement filled my tummy as I gently stroked my tiny bump.

I waited for Dale to come home, nervous to tell him our news. I heard the door unlock, and jumped to my feet.

As Dale entered the room, I beamed, my hand resting on my stomach. Dale looked at me suspiciously, eyeing my strangely placed arm.

‘We’re pregnant!’ I exclaimed, and Dale’s face dropped. He slumped slowly into the couch, avoiding my gaze, and I felt my heart sink.

‘You have to get rid of it,’ he said, and anger swelled inside me.

I knew it was a surprise, but I thought Dale loved me, and would be excited to start a family together.
I tried to change his mind, but Dale was adamant he didn’t want the baby.

As Dale discussed abortion clinics, my mind raced, and I knew I couldn’t get rid of my child. ‘I’m keeping our baby’ I said firmly, and Dale went mad.

He shouted at me for hours, demanding I abort our child. With every yell that came out of his mouth, I felt even more determined to keep my baby, whether Dale liked it or not.

I stood my ground, and when Dale realised my mind was set, he started to calm down. I hoped he’d accept our baby, but as the weeks went on, Dale made my life a living hell.

Everything I did made him angry, and he constantly snapped at me, shoving past me roughly. He told me daily to arrange a termination, and every time I refused, his face went red with anger.

I dreaded him coming home, and avoided him when possible, fed up of the constant hate he fired towards me.

After a month of constant arguments, I knew our home environment was too toxic for my unborn child, and decided to go to stay with my mum for a few days.

‘A bit of breathing space will do us good,’ I said, heading to the bedroom to pack an overnight bag. I told Dale it was only for a couple of days, and I just needed a little space to care for our baby.

But Dale didn’t agree to the idea, and bursting for a fight, he shouted and yelled at me, ordering me not to leave.

I quickly tried to pack my clothes, not engaging in yet another argument, but Dale saw red.

Suddenly, he launched himself at me, raining down brutal blows on my arms as I desperately tried to protect my baby bump.

‘Stop!’ I screamed out, as he shoved me aggressively from room to room. I tried to push back, praying he would stop his vicious attack before our baby got hurt.

But Dale wasn’t slowing down, with each shove more powerful than the last.

‘I’ll kick that baby out of you!’ he roared menacingly, before throwing open the front door, and sending me flying out into the street.

I landed in a crumpled heap on the pavement, and a pain seared through my stomach. I sobbed on the floor, staring up at the monster in the doorway.

‘Look what you made me do!’ Dale snarled, before storming inside and slamming the door shut.

I cried out in pain, my tears seeping into the gravel below.

My body was in agony, and I hugged my bump, praying that my baby would by some miracle be ok.
I knew I needed help, and struggled to my feet, clutching the wall for support.

Pain tore through me as I staggered the hour’s walk to Mum’s house in nothing but a dressing gown. Mum opened the door, took one look at me before I burst into tears and she bundled me into the car.

She rushed me to hospital, and I yelped in agony as she carried me to the emergency room. Doctors confirmed my worst fears - I’d had a miscarriage.

I sobbed in the hospital bed, certain it had been brought on by Dale’s violent attack.

That thug had got what he wanted after all.

I eventually went home to Mum’s, where she waited on me hand and foot, making sure I was ok. In the meantime, Dale hounded me with calls and messages, begging for forgiveness.

‘I’m so sorry’ he sobbed, and I could hear he was broken over what he’d done. Hurt and vulnerable, my heart ached as he cried down the phone.

Mum pleaded with me not to go back to him but, despite everything, I loved Dale.

I agreed to give him one last chance, praying it would be different, but it was just a couple of weeks before the violence started again.

Dale’s fuse seemed to grow shorter, and he’d strangle me over the slightest argument. I was terrified of my partner, and lived in fear of his constant abuse.

Dale attacked me four more times over the following two months, and I felt like a shadow of my former self.

When I noticed I’d missed a couple periods, I knew I had to leave before Dale found out and battered me again.

In March 2018, I was trying to figure out how to leave without triggering another assault when Dale picked another argument with me.

Within minutes, he’d turned violent, climbing on top of me and punching me repeatedly in the face.
When his hands gripped my neck tighter and tighter, I felt myself about to pass out.

That’s when Dale panicked, realising what he’d done, quickly packing some things and fleeing our house of horrors.

I went straight to the police who arrested Dale as I was taken to the hospital.

Doctors confirmed my pregnancy, and I wept with joy when they told me my baby was unharmed.

Meanwhile, Dale pleaded guilty to assault earlier this month and was jailed for 20 weeks.

Now, I’m four months pregnant and planning life as a single mum. Mum has supported me through everything, and I know I can do anything with her help behind me.

I’m a survivor, I’m strong - I have to be, for my baby.

I told Dale’s solicitor to pass on news of our baby to Dale, but I’ll never let that monster back into my life.

That monster robbed me of my first pregnancy, I won’t let him hurt me or my baby again.

Louisa-Beth wanted to raise awareness of domestic violence when she decided to sell her story, so our team helped her place it in Take a Break, the UK's biggest women's magazine, ensuring her message reached the widest readership possible.


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