But Dennis refused to accept it.
He’d break into my house, stalk me and bombard me with calls – sometimes 50 a day.
My boss wanted me to stay at her place, but I got a restraining order instead.
‘I’m not letting him rule my life,’ I told her.
Then one night, the kids were staying at my sister Kaitlyn’s house, while I went out with friends.
When I got home around 2am, I walked into my kitchen and put on the light – and there he was, waiting for me.
I screamed, but Dennis immediately started to punch my face and strangle me.
I tried to fight back but I was no match for him.
‘I love you,’ I lied. ‘Let’s talk this through.’
But he was having none of it and, for two hours, he beat me almost unconscious.
‘You’re a liar,’ he kept screaming at me.
Eventually, Dennis dragged me into the passenger seat of my car and started driving.
As we passed a house with lights on, I jumped out, hitting the road hard.
I didn’t even have a chance to scream before Dennis dragged me back into the car and drove me home.
My head was bleeding profusely as he laid me on a bed and I passed out. When
I came to, he was punching me again.
Then he put me back in the car and drove into the outback where there were no street lights or houses.
Pitch black, it was just me and Dennis and I was terrified.
‘I’m going to have to kill you,’ he kept saying.
He’d already pulled my phone apart and there was no-one to hear me scream.
But that afternoon, when he’d been driving me around for hours, Dennis suddenly changed.
‘I love you,’ he said. ‘I love your kids.’
Then he allowed me to call my sister.
‘Kaitlyn, I need you to pick up the kids from school,’ I began.
‘The police are looking for you!’ she cried.
But before I could say anything else, Dennis
ended the call and continued to drive.
‘Please let me go!’ I begged.
At around 8pm, smoke started coming out of the front of the car and it stopped suddenly.
Running off, Dennis left me there.
At first, I didn’t move, scared he was watching me and would come back.
But once I was sure he’d gone, I put my phone back together and called Kaitlyn who called the police.
It didn’t take long for officers to arrive and
I limped into their arms, finally safe.
On the way to hospital, I wept with relief.
I had a gash on my head, my chin was ripped open, my hair had been pulled out and my face was swollen and bruised.
But I was alive.
I found out that my boss had called the police when I didn’t show up for work.
When officers went to my house they found dried blood in the bathroom and bedroom, so they’d launched a manhunt.
Dennis was on the run for five days before he was finally arrested.
I had terrible PTSD and nightmares, but I was determined to pick myself up and carry on.
A few months later, I was working as a barmaid at a concert when I met a guy called Clint Schiller. He was kind and confident, but I was a nervous wreck.
‘I need to take things slowly,’ I told him, explaining I was an assault victim.
Clint, a special needs teacher, was amazing.
He came to all the court appearances with me when I had to face Dennis.
In January 2013, Dennis Wayne Aasen pleaded guilty to kidnapping to commit greater bodily harm and burglary/first degree assault on a person.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Clint and I married in June 2017 beside a lake. Now we have a blended family of my kids and Clint’s children, Ellie, 12, and Corbin, eight.
I’m speaking out to urge others to leave abusive relationships.
Clint is the love of my life and I’m so lucky to have him by my side.
I no longer call myself a victim – I’m a survivor. ●
As told to Sharon Keeble
If you are experiencing abuse, call 1800 737 732 (Aus) or 0800 456 450 (NZ).
You can also visit 1800RESPECT