A domestic abuse survivor was left with permanent brain injuries after her violent ex-boyfriend stamped on her body 54 times.
Sarah Backman, 51, now suffers seizures as a result of the injuries to the head caused by 35-year-old Jason Juntikka.
The mum was hospitalised four times over the course of the four months and didn’t leave Juntikka, a writer, out of fear he’d hurt her two sons, Eric, 28, and Alex, 21.
She also no longer has a sense of smell.
During one five-hour ordeal, the mum-of-two was locked in a hotel room while Juntikka fractured her skull, broke her finger, ankle, two ribs and tried to smother her with a pillow.
Thankfully, a hotel worker heard Sarah’s screams and called police. Juntikka was subsequently jailed for five years for aggravated domestic violence.
Speaking for the first time since the February 2017 ordeal, Sarah said: “He would hit me with a torch while I was asleep so I would wake up to getting hit.
“He burned my hand with a cigarette, and he put me in the hospital four times.
“He would spit on me after he’d finished attacking me and that was honestly worse.
“I used to be so confident, I had a lot going for me and he ate my self-esteem up.
“He had no problem hitting me in the face.”
She added: “He once dragged me by my hair to the toilets in a mall and punched me in the face in one of the cubicles.
“We were staying in a hotel working out where we were going to live because his family didn’t want him.
“He kicked me in the head and stamped on me 54 times.
“I had Nike ticks imprinted on my body from his trainers.
“He wanted a ring off my finger so he broke my finger to get it.
“He held a pillow over my face, broke a rib and my ankle.
“He had just been let out of jail and it took him 38 hours to almost kill me.”
The pair met in a supermarket in their hometown of Dollar Bay, Michigan, in the US, back in October 2015 and moved in together less than a month later.
Sarah, a former financial counsellor, said the first year of the relationship was perfect and the violence came out of the blue and escalated quickly.
Sarah, who is a grandmother, added: “I never thought he would hurt me.
“There wasn’t even a build-up and the first time he hit me, I ended up in the hospital.
“We were at home and we had people over so he tried to send me upstairs but I said no because I wanted to sit on the porch and he hit me from behind.
“It didn’t even cross my mind that it was him who’d hit me until I was told that it was him.
“I was in such shock and he hit me for the next four months before I got away.
“I started saying that I wanted to go out with friends and see my family.
“I was so isolated because I was infatuated with him so at first I didn’t want to see friends or family and they weren’t a threat to him but I think he thought he was losing me.”
Sarah no longer has a sense of smell due to the skull fracture and has regular seizures.
Sarah is still struggling with mental health issues after her ordeal and is speaking out to encourage victims of domestic abuse to seek help.
Sarah said: “I was so afraid of him because he threatened my family and if he was prepared to hurt me then he’d definitely hurt them.
“Healing from it is harder than going through it.
“I can’t sleep, I sleep with my sofa pressed up against the door because I’m so afraid.
“I don’t feel safe.
“If they do it once they’ll do it again. Get out while you can and be brave enough to speak up in court.
“I’m glad I’m finally sticking up for myself.”