A young woman who was scarred for life in an acid attack orchestrated by her controlling boyfriend has written a book to help warn others of the early signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.
Adele Bellis, 24, lost an ear, suffered permanent scarring and was left partially bald in the sulphuric acid attack at a bus stop in Lowestoft, Suffolk in 2014.
She has since undergone skin grafts and facial reconstruction surgery, and her former partner who co-ordinated the attack has been jailed for a minimum of 13 years after a jury found him guilty of false imprisonment, conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.
But former beautician Miss Bellis said the hardest thing she had ever done was reliving her experiences to write her book, entitled Brave.
She said it focused on what happened in the years before the acid attack and she hoped it could eventually be used as a resource in schools – as she campaigns for lessons on healthy and unhealthy relationships to be made part of the curriculum.
She was in the increasingly abusive relationship for six years which began with her boyfriend Anthony Riley stopping her from seeing friends and wearing certain clothes.
It developed into him beating her up, having her stabbed, posting revenge porn and finally having an accomplice throw acid in her face.
She said everyone knew her because of the acid attack, but fewer people knew the background to it.
“The book starts from when I met him (Riley) and I liked him and how intense it got.”
Chapter titles include Control, Jealousy, Isolation, Blame, Anger and Violence and chart the way Riley increasingly undermined Miss Bellis to exert control.
Talking about writing the book, she said: “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it helped me and I think I needed it.”
She said she wanted to use her book as a “platform” to teach young people about unhealthy relationships, and that children should be taught about them as part of the curriculum.
“Even if it’s just one hour, I think it’s just as important as sex education.”
She said it would help prevent girls from getting into unhealthy relationships in the first place.
She intends to give talks in schools herself and believes young people will be able to relate to her.
“When you’re in your first relationship you don’t really know what’s normal and what isn’t, so young people need guidance as to what is and isn’t acceptable,” she said.
“It’s not just about educating girls, it’s about educating boys.
“It needs to be understood by men that this controlling behaviour is wrong and I believe by telling boys it’s actually weak behaviour it’ll help make it more socially unacceptable.”
In an act of defiance, a poster for her book will be displayed at the bus stop where she was attacked.
“I’m still recovering,” she said. “I’ve still got a lot of operations coming up, but I just want to be a normal person and eventually get a career of helping people with emotional abuse.
“That’s my passion now.”
:: Brave, published by Harper Collins, is out on Thursday September 22.