A woman who suffered a horrific 14-hour assault involving acid and boiling water has said she doesn’t know how she is still alive.
Speaking on Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Simone Lee (43) said she is a survivor, not a victim.
39-year-old Christopher Stokes, of Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen, Limerick, was jailed for 11-and-a-half years on Wednesday for the attack.
The 14-hour ordeal involved the use of acid, boiling water and an attempt to burn Ms Lee’s house down.
She told Andrea how it began.
"He started getting very agitated, because he owed maintenance money or something," she said.
"He just got very, very controlling and he started punching me; he kept on physically punching me and punching me.
"He was saying horrible things to me – that nobody was going to miss me and that I was useless.
"At one stage, he tied a black bag around my head and tried to choke me out.
"I went unconscious after that".
'I puked up blood'
Simone said she was then driven to Charleville, as the ordeal continued.
"He got me and the other witness to drive to Charleville and kept on punching me in the car," she said.
"At one stage, he punched me so hard that I puked up a load of blood all over the floor of the car.
"He drove us to Charleville, the witness waited outside in the car for 22 minutes, and drove us back to Limerick.
"The attack just kept on going on".
'He blocked my door'
Simone said things escalated further when they got back to her apartment.
"He covered the sitting room door, he blocked it off, with a big, huge fridge-freezer,” she said.
"He wouldn't even let me use the bathroom in my own apartment.
"This guy is about 6’2”, I'm only 5’1”. He kept on punching me straight in the face.
"I thought I was dead - to this day, I don't know how I'm alive".
'I still remember the pain'
Simone said he then threw acid on her.
"He threw ammonia acid in my face; you know ammonia that's in hair dye, it smelled like that," she said.
"He threw that in my face three times, which caused my vision to go all blurry."
She said he then poured boiling water on her back.
"He picked up the kettle and I was kind of semi-conscious on the couch and he threw the hot water all over my back.
"I still remember the pain of that - I had to get skin graphs taken from my thigh put on to my back".
Simone then recalls waking up and her apartment was full of smoke.
"I remember waking up - I didn't know the time at the time - it was 3.50 in the morning," she said.
"I heard a fire alarm and I was choking; there was all smoke in my apartment.
"I looked up... he'd a load of furniture and debris thrown on top of me.
"I could see this little flame - I just threw everything off me and I ran.
"I didn't know until the following day he had my whole front door and everything barricaded.
"I don't know how I got out".
She said her neighbour two doors away raised the alarm after smelling smoke.
"When I got out the front door, he was outside and I remember all I wanted to do was hug him because it was somebody that I knew," she said.
"I told him what happened... and he walked me out as far as the gate. I always call him my hero".
'Led away in handcuffs'
Simone said the emergency services, including Gardaí, arrived in minutes.
"It was when I was in the back of the ambulance; I was kind of looking out, and I saw him being led away in handcuffs," she said.
"I fainted then".
Simone said she remembers "everything" about the attack.
"I still remember everything; it's just I've gone to so much counselling and that, I can deal with it," she said.
"I didn't sleep properly for almost a year; I could still hear his voice screaming at me".
'I slept last night'
Asked how she felt when sentence was passed, she said she was "ecstatic, over the moon."
"It was like I had a chain around my neck with this trial; I just wanted it over and it was like, yesterday, it was just cut free.
"I slept last night - I was asleep by 9 o'clock.
"I'm a survivor, I'm not a victim... I'm alive, I'm here to tell the tale."
Simone said she did not realise how controlling he was.
"I would have thought myself it's always somebody's husband or boyfriend or wife or girlfriend.
"He was just a platonic friend".
She has this advice for anyone in a similar situation.
"Say it to somebody,” she said. “If you have to say it to a bus conductor, somebody in the newsagents, somebody in the post office.
"It's not right; nobody can have that control over you - whether they be a friend [or] anyone.
"Everyone has their own right to be their own person," she added.
Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline on 1800-341-900. In an emergency, call 999 or 112