A WOMAN whose boyfriend tried to gouge her eyes out, leaving her with horrific injuries, is warning other women – so they don’t become his next target.
Mum-of-two Jenna Hurley, from Preston, Lancs, thought she’d met Mr Perfect in Mark Whiteside, until his ‘nice guy’ veneer wore off.
Savagely beating the 28-year-old to the point where her own dad didn’t recognise her, Whiteside was convicted of assault occasioning ABH.
Shockingly he was only sentenced to 14 months and ended up serving less than half in prison.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Jenna said: “Now he’s out, he could be looking for his next unsuspecting target.
“I wouldn’t want another woman to go through what I did at the hands of that monster.”
When Jenna met Mark through a mutual friend in 2017, she thought he was the perfect gent.
She said: “Charming, easy to talk to, attentive, I was besotted, in a bubble with him.
“He literally swept me off my feet. I remember telling all my friends I didn’t know men like him still existed.”
Mark was also great with Jenna’s daughter, then three. She said: “From the moment I’d introduced him to her, he’d been amazing. She’d taken an instant shine to him, calling him Markey.
“He painted her bike, covered it with her favourite Disney princess stickers and fixed stabilisers. She was made up.”
Just three months into their relationship, Jenna realised she was pregnant.
She said: “I panicked, taking a deep breath I phoned him at work and told him.
“He paused and said ‘OK let’s talk about it when I get home’, I went the rest of the day worrying.
“But when he came over later, he hugged me. Smiling he said ‘now we’ll be a family’.”
Jenna started to get excited about their future but, just a few weeks later, Mark lost his job.
Jenna, who was already working two jobs herself, was immediately worried about money.
She said: “I offered to help him update his CV but suddenly his eyes clouded over and he snapped at me, accusing me of being a nag.
“I was taken aback, but afterwards he apologised, saying he didn’t know what had come over him.”
Jenna helped him put together his CV and printed out 10 copies. But as the weeks passed, they gathered dust on the top of the fridge.
Meanwhile, Mark’s dark side began to surface as he started to criticise her and call her names.
Jenna said: “When friends asked me to meet up he told me, ‘why would you want to do that? You’re pregnant. You don’t need to go out.’
“On the rare occasion I did venture out, the backlash afterwards hardly made it worth it. So I tried not to do anything to displease Mark.
“But when I got upset because he was going out with his mates all the time he blamed me, saying it was my hormones.”
Although Mark still hadn’t found a job, he offered to put some cash he did have into her savings account – telling her they could split the costs of buying a pram.
But one morning, when Jenna was 32 weeks pregnant, she was in the kitchen making a cup of tea when Mark stormed up to her with a face like thunder.
She said: “He lunged at me, demanding the money. He marched me to the bank in tears and stood over me as I withdrew it for him.
“I knew his behaviour wasn’t right, but having split from my little girl’s dad I didn’t want another broken relationship, not with a baby on the way.
“And naively I even thought that when she arrived everything would be OK.”
It was at first. Ten weeks later, when Jenna went into labour and gave birth to their daughter in May 2018, she says Mark was amazing with their baby.
She said: “As he held her, he looked every inch the proud father and I told myself everything was going to be OK. My Mr Perfect was finally back.”
When he proposed a few weeks later, Jenna said yes. But Mark’s nice guy act didn’t last.
When Jenna’s friends invited her out to celebrate the birth, Mark snapped at her, saying “mums don’t go out”.
She said: “He started getting funny about me going anywhere.
“Even when I went back to doing a shift in a pub to support us financially, he insisted I gave it up.
“He became increasingly paranoid, constantly checking my phone and he was forever shouting at me.”
Mark finally found a job when their daughter was six months old, and Jenna hoped things were on the up.
She said: I thought things would calm down. But he’d disappear on nights after work, leaving me alone with the girls.
“As far as he was concerned mums didn’t go out, while he could do whatever he wanted.”
One night, as Jenna got ready for bed, she even caught him checking her pants.
She said: “Taken aback, I asked him what he was doing. He replied ‘to see if you’re cheating.’ I was shocked and I told him I’d never do that. But he’d still check.”
Soon after, Jenna had a routine smear test which detected abnormal cells – so she had them removed.
She said: “Afterwards, I felt sore and the way Mark was acting I didn’t feel like having s*x with him. So he grew even more convinced I was cheating.”
For a whole week in May last year, the atmosphere was tense in their home.
Then one Friday, Mark switched off his phone, ignored Jenna’s messages and didn’t come home after work.
She said: “I grew worried. When he finally burst through the door after midnight, I said ‘where have you been? I haven’t heard from you.’
“My little girl was at her dad’s but our daughter was asleep upstairs, so as he thudded up the stairs I asked him to be quiet, or he’d wake her.
“But he flipped, saying ‘who are carrying on with? I’ve been checking your pants. You’ve been cheating, you slag!’
“I couldn’t believe it, it was ridiculous.”
Their baby started to cry, so Jenna went to settle her. She hoped Mark would calm down, but he was waiting for her on the landing, raging.
She said: “He flew at me, clawing at my eyes. He hissed ‘I’m going to make you so f***ing ugly no one will want you’, as his fingers dug in.
“Shaking with terror, I was petrified he’d blind me.
“I begged him to stop but he began hitting me over and over again, then he dragged me face down onto the floor.
“Next I felt a sickening pain as his foot thudded into my back. He kept saying ‘I know you’ve been cheating’.
“‘I haven’t done anything!,’ I cried. ‘We have a family, let’s talk about this.’
“But he wouldn’t listen. Suddenly, the pain in my back was dwarfed by the searing agony of him dragging me around by my hair as I cried and screamed.”
At one point, Jenna managed to wriggle free and ran into the kitchen. But Mark caught up with her.
She said: “He put his hands around my throat and began to squeeze. As his twisted face glared at me, I had visions of myself dying right there on the kitchen floor.
“Then his grip loosened and, as suddenly as it had started, his attack stopped.
“He sank to the floor and began to cry. Trying to keep my voice calm, I told him I was going into the garden for a cigarette.”
As soon as Jenna was outside, she ran to a neighbour’s house and hammered on the door.
They helped her inside. She said: “Through frantic sobs I explained my baby was in the house, so they said they’d get her while I rang 999.
“I rang my dad too, and he came straight over. When he saw me, he gasped.
“‘What has he done to you?’ he asked, horrified. He didn’t recognise me.”
The police and paramedics arrived soon after and took Jenna to the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire, where she had scans.
She said: “Looking at myself in the mirror afterwards, I wretched. My eyes were so blackened and bloodshot I struggled to open them and my face was so battered it had swelled to twice its normal size.”
Doctors diagnosed severe concussion and she was discharged with strong painkillers.
After giving a statement to the police, Jenna rang her ex and asked if he could keep their daughter for a few days, as she didn’t want her to see the state she was in.
Jenna said: “It was a week before she saw me. When she did she cried. She wouldn’t look at me.
“She was only five so I couldn’t tell her the truth. I said ‘Mummy fell down the stairs’.
“I had also to tell her Mark wouldn’t be coming home. I thought she’d be upset but she replied ‘so he can’t shout at Mummy anymore?’”
Meanwhile, Mark was arrested and charged with assault. But Jenna was still terrified to be alone.
She said: “My friends rallied round, drawing up a rota so someone was with me the whole time. They were amazing.
“As the weeks passed, although my physical injures slowly healed, I suffered from dizzy spells, flashbacks and ghastly nightmares. For a long time, I was too scared to leave the house.”
In July last year Mark Whiteside, 25, of Kirkham, Lancs, appeared at Preston Crown Court and admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Jenna said: “I dreaded seeing him but I went along, determined to see justice.
“The judge only gave him 14 months and a five-year restraining order.
“It meant he’d be back out in just seven months and able to do it to someone else.
“It made me feel sick. What kind of message was that? It wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t forgive myself if he put someone else through the same.”
Back home, Jenna put a post up on Facebook, explaining what her savage ex had done to her and showing pictures of his handiwork.
She says it wasn’t a pity post but as a warning to other women.
Nothing could have prepared her for the response. Jenna said: “When I went to bed, 1,000 people had shared my post.
“When I woke up the next day, I had 10,000 shares and messages of support from all over the world.
“One woman in an abusive relationship also wrote ‘I can’t look like that, so I’ve now walked away.’ It was the response I wanted, something positive.
“The sentence Mark got was insulting, my two little girls could have ended up losing their mum.
“He didn’t even end up serving half, and he’s out now.”