When I first met Chris, I thought he was my saviour.
At 16 years old, I’d had a rough start to life and was living in a youth hostel.
But Chris, then 20, was a cheeky charmer who showered me with attention.
As we spent more time together, I fell head over heels and we soon moved in together.
I couldn’t believe my luck.
After 12 blissful years, I gave birth to our beautiful son, Oliver.
I was so full of love for our little boy but Chris suddenly became controlling.
He’d leave me alone with the baby for hours to go and visit his mates, but refused to let me go out. After nine months of arguments, I ended things with him.
Chris begged me to give him a second chance.
While I hated the way he’d been acting, he was the father of my child. So I decided to give things another go.
But after 18 months nothing changed and we split for good in January 2015. Chris didn’t take the break-up well.
He began constantly calling and texting me, then turning up at the house if I didn’t respond.
I’d lock the front door and cower in the corner, cradling our baby in my arms as Chris furiously banged on the door and shouted.
As the weeks went on, his bizarre behaviour continued.
He started spending whole days sitting in his car outside my house, just watching and waiting.
Then one night, after I’d had some friends over, he called me.
‘I know what you’ve been saying,’ he said, before reciting our entire conversation from earlier that evening.
I shuddered as I realised he must have been crouched down under the window listening to us!
‘Please, just stop this,’ I cried down the phone.
I couldn’t believe what was happening.
Where was the old Chris I’d fallen in love with?
And what was this new version of him capable of?
One night at 2am, I started getting menacing texts from Chris again. By now, I was used to the horrible things he’d say to me. But this time I was convinced I could hear strange noises in the house.
Oliver was staying with his grandma for a few days, so I felt completely alone. I paced my bedroom, certain the noises were coming from the attic above.
Was someone up there?
Stop being so silly, I told myself. It’s just the house creaking.
I climbed back into bed and wrapped the covers around me tightly until I eventually dozed off.
The next morning, I woke up with a jolt.
I tried to shake off the terror of the night before as I slipped out of bed to make a cup of tea.
But I had only made it to the hallway when I saw the most terrifying sight imaginable.
There was a man climbing down the step ladder from the attic. It was Chris!
My skin prickled with fear as I realised he’d been hiding in my roof!
It was like something from a horror film. I screamed, but Chris simply smirked as he padded downstairs.
Running to the bedroom, I slammed the door behind me and kept my body pressed against it.
A few minutes later, I heard Chris leave. With my heart still hammering in my chest, I crept out of my room and tiptoed around the house to make sure he had really gone.
Checking all the doors to make sure they were locked, I realised he must have come in through an unlocked window.
Trying to put the ordeal behind me, I convinced myself it wouldn’t happen again. Chris had surely bothered me enough.
But a few weeks later, I was chopping ingredients for dinner when Chris suddenly appeared behind me.
Was someone up there?
He ran away but I was left trembling in fear.
I didn’t know how to stop him, but I knew I couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t feel safe in my own home.
Still, I didn’t tell anyone. I knew it seemed foolish, but I couldn’t bear to think what might happen if he found out.
The final straw came when Chris sent me a video which appeared to show him taking a drug overdose, along with a letter to give to our son.
I called the police, who found Chris and arrested him.
He was fine. I was stunned when it turned out the video was just another chilling attempt to scare me.
It was then that I broke down and told police everything that had happened.
It felt so good to finally get it off my chest.
Thankfully Christopher Ashurst, 34, pleaded guilty to stalking involving serious distress in July 2015, and was sentenced to a community service order.
I’ve now moved towns to make a fresh start and I’m just focusing on being the best mum I can be.
But I’m still scared of things that go bump in the night.
Originally published in that's life! 10 March 2016