I Hate Valentine’s Day Because My Husband Shot Me In The Face Then Hanged Himself And My 16 Year Old Son Committed Suicide

SIGNED off with six kisses and a promise to “love you in this life and the next”, Rachel Williams’s Valentine’s Day card would spark envy from any wife. Yet...

SIGNED off with six kisses and a promise to “love you in this life and the next”, Rachel Williams’s Valentine’s Day card would spark envy from any wife.

Yet her husband Darren’s gushing message actually masks years of horrific abuse – which eventually saw him blast Rachel with a shotgun in the hairdressers when she filed for divorce.

 One of Darren's gushing Valentine's Day cards to his wife, masking years of abuse and violence
One of Darren’s gushing Valentine’s Day cards to his wife, masking years of abuse and violenceCredit: Supplied
 Rachel Williams recovers in hospital after being battered and blasted with a shotgun by Darren
Rachel Williams recovers in hospital after being battered and blasted with a shotgun by DarrenCredit: Wales News Service

Darren – a 6ft 7in, 22st bully who had spent 18 years punching, throttling and spitting at his wife – hanged himself in woodland hours after the shooting in Newport, south Wales.

But for Rachel – who survived the brutal attack – her anguish didn’t end there: six weeks later, her son Jack, 16, killed himself too, unable to cope with the horror that had unfolded around him.

It was an unimaginable chain of events – and one that seemed a million miles away from the loving picture painted by steroid-taking ex-bouncer Darren in his Valentine’s message to his wife.

‘I’d give all my blood for you’

Yet among his ‘adoring’ words were sinister undertones: “I know I can be a bit weird and crazy insecure etc etc, but I would walk to the end of the earth for you, give all my blood for you.”

In another card, also given on February 14, he chillingly wrote: “I am so sorry for all the times I’ve been a b******, please forgive me my love,” adding: “Ps. I won’t show you up again.”

 Darren's message included more sinister-sounding lines, including "I'd give all my blood for you"
Darren’s message included more sinister-sounding lines, including “I’d give all my blood for you”Credit: Supplied
 In another Valentine's card, he referred to the horrific abuse of his wife as 'showing her up'
In another Valentine’s card, he referred to the horrific abuse of his wife as ‘showing her up’Credit: Supplied
 Rachel was punched, throttled and spit at by Darren for 18 agonising years
Rachel was punched, throttled and spit at by Darren for 18 agonising yearsCredit: Wales News Service

It was all part of a “couple game” that Rachel, now 48, says countless other domestic abuse and violence victims across Britain will be living today as they endure Valentine’s Day “hell”.

“Valentine’s Day was a day of pretending it was a happy relationship,” she tells Sun Online.

“Darren would write all these poems and cards about how wonderful I was, how he couldn’t live without me, will I ‘be his Valentine’? They were empty words, empty promises.”

2 women killed a week by domestic violence

Nearly one in three women in Britain will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

For around two a week, the abuse proves deadly.

Just yesterday, new figures revealed that killings of women and girls have surged to the highest level in 13 years – with nearly half of the adult victims killed in a domestic homicide.

 Rachel, seen in hospital after the shooting, says Darren would write her gushing Valentine's Day cards
Rachel, seen in hospital after the shooting, says Darren would write her gushing Valentine’s Day cardsCredit: Wales News Service
 Jack, who killed himself six weeks after the hairdressers attack, was also a victim of domestic violence
Jack, who killed himself six weeks after the hairdressers attack, was also a victim of domestic violenceCredit: Supplied
 Rachel, now 48, tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness of domestic abuse
Rachel, now 48, tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness of domestic abuseCredit: Media Wales

Victims’ Valentine’s hell

But while “domestic terrorists” strike all year round, Rachel says Valentine’s Day can be particularly tough for victims – as they’re expected to lavish loving attention on their partners.

“For some they’re playing the couple game. You might go out to a restaurant without really wanting to be there with your perpetrator,” she tells us. “”With other victims, they might be kept in as ‘punishment’ for something their abuser says they’ve said or done'”

For Rachel, Valentine’s Day involved being forced to stay in, cook dinner and have sex with Darren – all the while “walking on eggshells”, terrified of another violent outburst.

And when her husband told her, “you’ll always be my Valentine”, it simply highlighted that she was completely trapped, knowing her life would be in danger if she left.

“He meant that I could never escape,” says the mum of two.

“When you’re living in these relationships, in these toxic homes, your partners are like domestic terrorists. You don’t know when the next outburst is going to be.”

 Darren holds his hands around Rachel's throat in a sickening picture
Darren holds his hands around Rachel’s throat in a sickening pictureCredit: Supplied
 Jack, pictured with his dad, struggled to cope with the devastation that had unfolded
Jack, pictured with his dad, struggled to cope with the devastation that had unfoldedCredit: Supplied

Rachel, now 48, met Darren in 1993, when she was 21 and a single mum to eldest son Josh. After a year of dating, she fell pregnant, with Jack coming along in 1995.

Although she had seen “glimpses” of Darren with a temper, Rachel says her first vivid memory of his severe violence came during the pregnancy, when he grabbed her by her throat.

Choked while pregnant

“I was seven months pregnant,” she recalls.

“He lifted me up off the floor and let me go when my lips turned blue – those were his words.”

Afterwards, Darren was remorseful, saying he didn’t know what had come over him.

It was an apology the thug would make many times over the years, as he repeatedly thumped Rachel on the back of her head, pulled her hair, strangled her and spit in her face.

“It almost became my normal,” adds the mum. “Once Darren did something like that I’d have at least a week of him sucking up to me with flowers. One week I had three bouquets.”

 Darren would suck up to Rachel with flowers after unleashing his brutal beatings
Darren would suck up to Rachel with flowers after unleashing his brutal beatingsCredit: Wales News
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