When Idi Atiba died from a gunshot wound in a Luton park on a bitterly cold day last January, it was the end of a domestic violence nightmare for his ex-girlfriend, Tanisha Jones.
Over an 18-month period she had been beaten, tortured, manipulated and even threatened at gunpoint by a man she describes as having had a “split personality”.
“He was so loving and he was a good dad,” said the former Halyard High School student. “He would take me out and buy me lovely gifts.
“Then he would just switch. Once he held two guns to my head at the same time.”
Last week an inquest jury failed to reach a conclusion on whether 31-year-old Idi had fired the gun deliberately or accidentally following a 16-hour stand-off.
Police had apprehended him on playing fields at Leagrave Common, fearing he was on his way to kill Tanisha and her two children in Lewsey Farm.
The pair had broken up two months previously after Idi hit Tanesha in front of the children – prior to that it had always been behind closed doors.
“He started throwing perfume bottles at me and then he smashed a mirror over the baby’s cot – I ran into the living room and then he hit me in front of the kids,” she said.
“He had taken my SIM card but I had an old phone and I locked myself in the kitchen and managed to phone my sister.”
Tanisha had to wait 20 minutes for help to arrive as police would only send an armed response to the house, as Idi was known for having weapons.
After the incident, social services ruled he should not be allowed to see Tanisha, 23, their baby Tamika, and Kayden, her son by a previous partner.
Idi had also been in prison for attacking another ex-girlfriend, and Tanisha said he was prone to mood swings.
This week the young mum agreed to speak to the Luton News to give an insight into being trapped in a violent relationship.
“Even now I’m embarrassed to tell people,” she said. “People ask why my face was never bruised but they do it to parts of your body that people can’t see.
“I know a lot of women in Luton are suffering the same thing. You have to leave because it’s either lose your partner or your children.”
Tanisha feels anger towards social workers from cutting Idi off from the children completely, but understands that both they and the police were acting in her best interests.
She is certain her ex-boyfriend, who made threats to kill himself on several occasions, suffered with mental health problems, but says he would not commit to getting the help he needed.
At one point he beat her in front of two of her friends when she was six months pregnant with Tamika.
And when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant he tortured her with a hammer for five hours, strangled her and sat on her stomach.
“At that point I just wanted to die,” she said. “I just tried to imagine that I wasn’t there, that I was somewhere else.
“People think that with domestic violence, you just get slapped, but it’s not like that.
“At the inquest people were saying he was great, but they didn’t know what I’d been through.
“I always said to myself that I would never be in a violent relationship but once they’ve got your feelings you end up staying and going through it.”
On the day he died, she heard a shot ring out as she sat in her living room with police officers.
“I said, ‘Has he shot himself?’ but they said no. About an hour later my mum’s phone rang with the news. I started screaming and vomiting.
“I wanted to go and help him. He had called me from the playing field – he said he loved me and he was sorry. I wanted to say I loved him but social services were there.”
Tanisha’s mixed emotions mean she still hasn’t cried about what happened.
“There was a relief that I wasn’t in danger any more,” she said. “That I was free again. I loved him but I do wonder – would I have been running away for the rest of my life?”
>If you are a victim of domestic violence and want help, call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247.