Summer had just begun on Kangaroo Island, SA, and sipping a cold drink, I was surrounded by friends.
Then, they introduced me to George, 50, a mental health nurse.
With blond hair, blue eyes and an infectious smile, he was a handsome man.
As we got to know each other better, we bonded over our love of music and travel.
George also told me he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years earlier. I was touched he’d been so honest with me.
Soon he was showering me with gifts, including lingerie. Though I’d never normally dress up in that way, it made me feel special.
And George could barely keep his hands off me.
I feel like a teenager again, I thought.
Six months into our relationship, he invited me to live with him.
‘I think he’s The One!’ I told my friends.
But George became quite obsessive. When we were apart he would always call to check up on me. At first, I thought he was just being kind, but I started to feel suffocated.
‘You have to stop this,’ I told him.
Then, in 2009, his health started to decline rapidly.
Once a power-lifter and butcher, he had always been a strong man. But by the end of the year, he could barely walk and was confined to bed.
When he fell into a deep depression, it was clear he needed me more than ever.
So, in 2010, I closed the doors to my food supply business and we moved to Adelaide, so George could be closer to medical facilities.
There, I picked up some night shifts at a local hotel so my days could be spent caring for him.
‘You’re my rock,’ he’d say.
Despite this, he still wanted to control who I spent time with, including friends and family.
I assumed his paranoia and jealous behaviour were caused by his medication, and although George wasn’t perfect, I was committed to our relationship.
So in September that year, we married.
Still, his condition kept deteriorating, so I pushed his doctors to consider deep brain stimulation to help treat his symptoms.
Incredibly, the procedure was a success and before long, George was better than he’d ever been.
He was even able to go back to work and start exercising again. But as George regained his independence, it was clear he didn’t need me as much.
When his appetite for sex disappeared, I knew something was wrong. He must be having an affair, I thought.
Although I confronted him several times, he always denied it.
Then, in November 2017, I found text messages on his phone that confirmed my suspicions.
Exhausted by his lies, I told him we were over.
For the next four weeks, we continued living together so I had time to save money. Though we still chatted, we spent most of our time apart.
So when he came barging into my bedroom one morning, I was startled.
Then I noticed a huge 30cm knife in his hand. Without a word, George sliced across my right shoulder, arm and breasts. I watched in horror as my blood splattered across his face.
While I tried to grab the knife to defend myself, he slashed my left shoulder.
Then he thrust the knife into my back.
I screamed for help but the brutal attack lasted for several minutes.
When he plunged the knife into my lung, all of the breath rushed out of me.
I’m going to die, I panicked.
‘I love you, I always have,’ I cried as I collapsed.
Then the world went black.
Fading in and out of consciousness, I saw George running the knife across my hand as I lay helpless.
When I woke, emergency services had arrived and I was rushed to hospital.
It took three surgical teams to repair the gashes he’d left on my body and repair my collapsed lung.
My butcher hubby had carved me up like an animal.
Afterwards, I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and constantly found myself looking over my shoulder.
George Alexander Freeman, 61, appeared in the Supreme Court of South Australia where he pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
He admitted to purchasing the $6 knife from The Reject Shop five days before the attack.
The court heard that the force of the knife in my back had fractured my spine and before calling for help, George phoned my father to tell him he’d killed me.
Reading my victim impact statement, I explained how my husband – a nurse – had failed to care for me as I lay bleeding.
‘You showed no remorse or compassion and left me to die,’ I said.
In August this year he was sentenced to nine years and 10 months in prison with a non-parole period of five years and six months.
Now, almost two years on from the attack, my scars are a constant reminder of what I’ve been through.
While I forgive my ex-husband for the brutality he inflicted on me, I will never be able to forget it.
Although I still suffer from shortness of breath and limited movement in my arms, I’ve returned to work.
I’m determined to focus my energy on my healing and rebuilding my life.
If you are experiencing abuse and need help, contact:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277
- 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732