Horsham's Simone O'Brien speaks out to help other domestic violence victims

HORSHAM mother of three Simone O'Brien was bashed repeatedly with a baseball bat and and left for dead - by a man she had agreed to marry.

It is a horrific story of domestic violence at the hands of a vicious predator.

Mrs O'Brien spent a month in a Brisbane hospital's intensive care unit fighting for her life.

Her face - described as 'mush' by a neighbour who rushed to her assistance - was painstakingly rebuilt, but the physical and psychological scars might never heal.

She could be forgiven for shutting herself off from the rest of the world, but Mrs O'Brien has chosen to speak up in the hope she can prevent other women from becoming domestic violence victims.

Mrs O'Brien shared her story for the first time on Monday night in a detailed interview with Channel Nine's A Current Affair.

Her children, Gabby, 17, Ashlyn, 13, and Zac, 11, were also interviewed, as was Mrs O'Brien's husband Trevor, with whom she has now reconciled.

Their story begins in Brisbane in February, 2012.

After being divorced from Trevor for four years, Mrs O'Brien reluctantly joined an online dating service.

Before long she matched with real estate agent Glenn Cable, and after two months of daily phone calls and text messages, the pair agreed to meet.

They began dating and Mrs O'Brien eventually introduced Cable to her three children.

She told A Current Affair he was good to her children, although he soon became jealous of the time she spent with them.

Cable grew increasingly manipulative and controlling, deleting messages and contacts from Mrs O'Brien's phone and telling her he did not want her spending time with her friends.

He also lied about his financial situation.

Mrs O'Brien broke up with him, but gave in to his pleading and took him back.

They became engaged after Cable proposed to Mrs O'Brien in front of her children.

But she knew things were not right.

A dodgy cheque that was supposed to be a deposit on a family home proved to be the last straw.

Fed up with Cable's lies, Mrs O'Brien called him to tell him their relationship was over.

She told him she never wanted to see him again and he was to leave her and her children alone.

Mrs O'Brien made the call at 6.06pm. By 6.16pm, Gabby had called an ambulance.

Cable had arrived at the house, taken her into the bedroom and beaten her repeatedly with a baseball bat -  in front of Gabby and Ashlyn.

The girls ran outside and got help from two male neighbours, who pulled Cable off Mrs O'Brien and dragged him outside.

A fellow neighbour, radiographer Karen Roper, also raced in to help.

She literally held Mrs O'Brien's head together until the paramedics arrived.

Mrs O'Brien's left arm was snapped in two places, resulting in a compound fracture.

Her top jaw was smashed. Her nose and right cheekbone were broken, along with both eye sockets and her skull was shattered. She was also left blind in one eye.

A team of surgeons reconstructed her face, which is held together by titanium plates and screws.

"It wasn't until I was walking out of the court that I discovered it was something people wanted to talk about." - Simone O'Brien

Mrs O'Brien flies to Brisbane regularly for continuing treatment at the Princess Alexandra Brain Rehab Unit.

Her visits also give her an opportunity to spend time with Gabby, who remained in the city to finish high school.

The rest of the O'Brien family moved to the Wimmera last year.

"We love it here," Mrs O'Brien said.

"It's such a caring place and the children feel safe. They're able to sleep in their own beds now - whereas before we would all sleep in the one room."

Mrs O'Brien said she was nervous about the reaction her appearance on A Current Affair would receive.

"I had to go to tennis on the Tuesday morning and I said to Trevor I didn't want to go, because I didn't know how people would react," she said.

"That's why we didn't tell many people it was going to be on.

"Before this only the odd person knew what had happened to me, so I wasn't looked at differently here in any shape or form."

Mrs O'Brien said the response had been amazing.

"I suppose we thought not many people would see it, but we were surprised by the number of text messages we got," she said.

"I was scared, because I've lost my confidence through this - but I can't thank the Horsham community enough."

Mrs O'Brien said she took a long time to decide whether or not to tell her story.

"It wasn't until I was walking out of the court that I discovered it was something people wanted to talk about," she said.

"It made me realise that if by telling my story I could help one female, then I'm happy to tell it.

"If you don't feel secure or safe with someone you're with, speak up."

Mr O'Brien said sometimes speaking up was not enough.

"Simone did get - out she broke up with him and that's when he lost it," he said.

"Sometimes women keep things to themselves and don't want to bother anyone, but it's important to ask for help."

Mr O'Brien encouraged men to look out for their female partners, relatives and friends.

"This story will be over in a couple of weeks. But people need to continue to be reminded," he said.

"We've made a commitment now to try to keep awareness of domestic violence out there - we're still working out just how we're going to do that."

* Last month, Cable was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years' jail. He will be eligible for parole in 2025.

A Current Affair is setting up a trust fund to help pay for Mrs O'Brien's recovery.

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