A MOTHER who was beaten in front of her children until her face was unrecognisable has revealed how she managed to turn her life around.
Janet Gardner, 57, mother of two, became a councillor representing Botwell ward in 1994 and is now an advocate for domestic violence victims in the borough.
Ms Gardner helped to establish the successful Hillingdon Domestic Violence Forum and has been dedicated to providing victims with support for more than 10 years.
But five years earlier she was in an abusive relationship. At one point her partner repeatedly kicked her face, breaking her nose and causing her to lose four front teeth.
She said: "He had pushed me to the floor. I was curled up and he kept kicking me.
"I thought he was going to kill me and it was my nine-year-old son who managed to get out of the house and get help.
"My head was so swollen people couldn't even recognise me. When I went to the hospital I wasn't allowed to look in the mirror, and one person who came to visit me threw up because I looked so bad."
Ms Gardner explained that in May 1989 her partner was charged with actual bodily harm with intent, to which he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
"I hardly went out for the next two years and I couldn't trust anyone because I was afraid they would turn on me."
Ms Gardner said she had gone into the abusive relationship "on the rebound" because her husband had left her after 15 years together.
"The reason why I want to say that this has happened to me is to say that it can happen to anyone, and I have managed to change my life and achieve things so if I can do it so can others.
"A lot of people are embarrassed to tell anyone because they may be with someone who their family don't approve of, and there are a lot of people who endure it for the sake of their children.
"He would treat me as his exclusive property, but the thing is, when he hit me I told people."
For more information on domestic violence contact Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.refuge.org.uk