Lucy Wallis (pictured, showing some of the injuries Smallwood inflicted after they met in 2017) has spoken out after her abuser was jailed
A domestic abuser bit, beat and hung his young girlfriend from their third-floor flat’s balcony by her legs in a reign of terror.
Luke Smallwood, 24, strangled and emotionally manipulated Lucy Wallis, 20, describing his violence as ‘soft tissue manipulation’.
He tracked the optician’s assistant’s movements and even controlled her finances, giving her spending money in only two pence pieces.
Smallwood hung her from the balcony on two separate occasions while threatening to drop her, before throttling her on Christmas Day.
The thug was jailed for two and a half years at Derby Crown Court on November 22 2018, after pleading guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.
Ms Wallis, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, has now spoken out for the first time since the sentencing.
She said the abuse started early in their relationship, which was the first serious one she had been involved in.
‘Luke and I met through a mutual friend, it was my first serious relationship, and it was puppy love,’ she said. ‘He seemed like a really nice guy, he paid attention to me, and acted like he really cared.
Ms Wallis (pictured, standing on the balcony from which Smallwood threatened to drop her) has told how the thug used to ration her to £15 a week in spending money
‘He was lovely to my mum and he was there for me to start with, he moved in soon after meeting me.
‘But soon after our relationship started he started pinching me, and digging his nails into my thighs.
Smallwood (pictured with Ms Wallis) started beating her months into their relationship
‘He would do this on random occasions, and said he enjoyed causing me pain. He called it ‘soft tissue manipulation’.
‘I didn’t know what to think at first, I just thought maybe it was something he liked, but I didn’t expect it to go any further than that.
‘Once you get attached, it becomes easier to let things like that go. Watch out the little things, that’s always where it starts. What started with pinching, became emotional and physical torture.’
She said because she loved Smallwood, who she met in June 2017, she found it hard to acknowledge what was happening as his attacks gradually grew in severity.
Within a short space of time he began to punch her in the face, headbutt and bite her, and on two separate occasions hung her off of a third floor balcony, head first, holding her legs.
On Christmas day 2017, Smallwood strangled her until she couldn’t breathe, then released his grip, only to tighten it again once she had caught her breath.
He would also control her money, giving her an allowance of £15 a week in two pence pieces while banning her from seeing her friends and family.
‘The first time when during an argument he punched me in the face, I was shocked,’ she said.
‘After the abuse, he would always try and apologise it away, but the punching never stopped, it just kept getting worse.
Ms Wallis (pictured, left, showing a fraction of the injuries Smallwood, right, in his mugshot, inflicted upon her) has spoken out after the abuser was jailed in November
‘One night during a usual argument that we would have, he stood up and headbutted me.
‘I had to tell people that we were just play fighting and I accidentally clashed heads with him.
‘Another time when I put the heating on he woke up and beat me up for making him too hot.
‘I was paranoid about losing my job because he would tell me I couldn’t leave the house.
‘Eventually he would let me leave, but confiscate my phone from me for the day.
Ms Wallis shows the damage wrought by her abusive boyfriend who beat her all over her body while they were together
‘He used to tell me my family and friends didn’t love me, and stopped me from contacting them.
‘He was brutal, he didn’t care about the damage he was doing. He would hold me over the balcony and tell me he could drop me if he wanted too.
‘It was scary because even though it was a threat, he could have slipped, and he could have accidentally dropped me at any moment. It was a game to him.’
The survivor made the decision to go to the police after colleagues at work noticed she was covered in bruises.
But she admits the aftereffects of the abuse still haunt her now, despite her strong nature.
She wants to share her story, with the hope that it will find any current victims of domestic abuse and show them getting out is possible.
‘I used to go out and do the usual “twenty-something” activities,’ she said. ‘I was social and loved to have a laugh with my friends.
‘But when I was with Luke I wasn’t the same Lucy. I even stopped posting anything on social media. My friends told me I was a completely different person.
‘I didn’t recognise myself anymore, he drained the life out of me and left me losing my grip on reality.
Ms Wallis was dangled from the third-floor balcony (pictured) in just one incident of abuse inflicted by her boyfriend
‘The day I spoke to my manager at work, I went home and told Luke he didn’t have any control over me anymore. A light just came on, I could see who he was.
‘It sounds weird, but I was still heartbroken, because somehow I still loved him. All he cared about was controlling me, and abusing me with that control. The most depressing part for me, is that I struggle to trust anyone now.
‘I wish I had listened to my friends, they kept telling me to leave, but I always found a reason to stay. He used to tell me I made him the way he was, which I started to believe.
‘I just want other victims to know they’re not alone, the police were really sensitive and they were there for me from start to finish. Be objective, and make the right decision.
‘Don’t ever let them manipulate you into thinking you deserve what is happening to you.’
What does the ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ law cover?
Victims of controlling or coercive abusers are now protected by the law (file photo)
By Mark Duell
Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship in December 2015.
An offence is committed by repeatedly or continuously engaging in behaviour towards another person that is ‘controlling or coercive’.
The Crown Prosecution Service said the type of abuse covered by the new offence could include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation or stopping someone from socialising, controlling their social media accounts, surveillance through apps and dictating what they wear.
Women’s Aid describes it as behaviour designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: ‘Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse. Perpetrators will usually start abusing their victim by limiting her personal freedoms, monitoring her every move, & stripping away her control of her life; physical violence often comes later.’
According to the Office of National Statistics In the year ending December 2016, there were a total of five cautions and 155 defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour in England and Wales.
The majority of defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour were male (97 per cent).