Michelle subjected Edward to an onslaught of abuse. He was scratched, punched and screamed at until one morning Michelle, brandishing a kitchen knife, stabbed him to death in the living room of their picturesque cottage in the pretty village of Scalford, Leicestershire.
The attack was so ferocious that that the knife blade broke away from the handle. In April, Michelle was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
‘Eddie was a kind man who would never hurt anyone,’ says his mother Sara Wrestle, blinking back tears. ‘I still can’t believe he’s gone. I want other men who are suffering at the hands of an abusive wife or girlfriend to seek help, so that nobody else loses their life like my son did.’
Troublingly, in a society where the roles of men and women are becoming increasingly blurred, female-on-male domestic violence is on the rise.
The latest findings from the British Crime Survey reveal that 17 men were killed by their partners in England and Wales last year.
Forty per cent of reported domestic abuse victims were male (although this includes assaults by male relatives and partners).
Incredibly, if these figures are to be believed, more married men suffered abuse at the hands of their spouse than married women (2.3?per cent of married men were recorded to have complained about domestic abuse compared with 1.8?per cent of married women).
Of course, it is easy to blame women’s increased violence on their emancipation: they move more in men’s worlds, earning and competing with as much aggression and vigour as their as male colleagues.
They’re drinking more, too: figures from the Office of National Statistics show that women are fast catching men up in the alcohol stakes. The proportion of women consuming more than the recommended limit of 14 units a week has grown by a fifth in a decade.
‘Domestic abuse against men is one of Britain’s last remaining taboos, but every year our helpline is seeing at least a 25?per cent increase in the number of men seeking help,’ says Mark Brooks, chairman of Mankind, a charity for male victims.
Eddie was 18 and had just graduated from a business studies course at college when he met Michelle, then 29, through mutual friends.
‘She was Eddie’s first serious girlfriend and his eyes lit up when he spoke of her,’ says Sara.
Sara, 48, invited Michelle over for dinner. ‘She was well mannered and friendly. Eddie seemed so happy the age gap didn’t bother me.’
Yet there were perhaps already troubling signs. Michelle had a young son and daughter who were living with their different fathers and with whom she had only sporadic contact. She also had a predilection for alcohol.
‘When she’d drunk too much she would find fault with even the smallest things Eddie did,’ says Sara. ‘If she didn’t think he was being attentive enough towards her she’d snap at him. If he was tired she’d accuse him of being grumpy. I didn’t feel it was my place to intervene.’