Victorian woman’s story of survival and abuse

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Nadine Hams thought she met the love of her life when she began chatting with a charming British national who had moved to Australia when he was younger.

But not even six months into the relationship, things began to turn, with Hams telling 9News her abuser had quickly turned "evil".

"His fuse could go from normal to a psychopath within a split second," she said.

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The Gipplsand mother had met Terry Phillips online, and he didn't waste any time before he began love-bombing her.

"He was extremely affectionate and basically too good to be true," she said.

"He was good at covering things up, making excuses and compulsive lying.

"The first sign that he was violent was that he liked to strangle (me). He would sit on me."

The abuse continued to get worse, with one incident occurring while she was driving on the freeway, eight months pregnant. 

"We were out to dinner with my three kids and we were driving home. He just snapped randomly and he grabbed a stick in the car and started whacking me while I was driving," Hams said.

"I had split my head open and had blood pouring down me. He wouldn't let me slow down.

"(Previously) he broke my wrist in two spots after I tried to leave the room (during an argument). He pushed me down the hall and broke my wrist.

"(He) is a disgusting human being."

A week after giving birth to their son, Hams was breastfeeding on the couch when she was viciously set upon.

"He came over and tried to kick me. I still had stitches. The baby's head was there but he missed. He could have killed the baby, he punched me and broke my cheekbone."

For months, the 43-year-old kept her injuries a secret, concealing her black eyes and scars with makeup.

She told 9News that the abuse was not only physical, with her abuser monitoring her phone and social media accounts.

But she secretly confided in a friend, sending them photos of her injuries.

"I needed to figure out a way to get out safely and gather evidence."

The mother of four eventually went to police, where a team of dedicated officers dug more deeply into the case, and uncovered a history of family violence.

"The Baw Baw family violence (team) were amazing and they had always made time for me," Hams said.

Family violence has been escalating over the past decade, with Victoria Police responding to more than 94,000 incidents in the last year, a jump of two per cent from the previous year.

More than a third of those incidents were witnessed by children.

The 43-year-old has shared her story to encourage others experiencing family violence to reach out and notify someone.

"We are stronger than what we think we are. If you believe in what's right, you can get through it," she said.

"I kept focusing on the truth, and I believe in karma."

Phillips pleaded guilty to abusing a number of victims including children. He's now in prison.