When she woke up each morning, all Angela could focus on was how she’d get through the day.
Her bones were broken, her eyes black and bruised.
But instead of thinking about the pain, the mum-of-three thought about how she was going to survive.
During her 17-year relationship with evil sadist, Steven Blades, Angela Wright was subjected to countless beatings, had her leg broken, had a gun placed in her mouth and was repeatedly raped.
The torture was so horrific that a senior prosecutor said that Blades’ violence and acts of cruelty were some of the worst she had ever encountered in her career.
Due to Angela’s strength, along with two other victims, Blades, now 53, will spend the next 25 years behind bars and will never be able to harm a woman again.
Following a case at Minshull Street Crown Court, the mum-of-three has since decided to waive her right to anonymity and share her story – in the hope it will encourage other victims to come forward.
The pair met during the 1980’s at a youth club in Oldham when they were teenagers. Angela was just 14-years-old at the time.
“For the first six or seven months things were fine – we were just two young kids getting to know each other, having fun,” she recalled.
“Then his dad passed away and he used to slap me here and there. It went on like that for a while. Every time he hit me he would apologise and say it’s because his dad had died.
“I just used to forgive him.
“As time went on we started arguing and splitting up and getting back together again. That happened lots of times.”
The abuse began to escalate following the birth of Angela’s first child.
Blades was not the baby’s biological father but brought him us as his own during the pair’s relationship.
“He was really jealous of my son. I remember one time I was sitting reading a story to him and he just came and punched me in the face,” Angela said.
“I thought he could kill me”
It was when Angela had her second child, of whom Blades was the father, that the slaps and punches turned into broken bones.
“There was not a day that I can remember that I didn’t have a broken bone or black eye,” she said.
“I tried to leave him lots of times. I just lived on survival mode getting up every morning thinking about how I am going to get through the day.
“I thought he could kill me. He nearly did kill me on many occasions.”
The worst of the abuse came when Angela would confront Blades about rumours that he had been seeing other women.
Blades whipped her with a coat hanger, forced her into scalding hot water, burnt her with an iron and even put cigarettes out on her, the court previously heard.
He also repeatedly raped her.
One one occasion Blades put a rifle in her mouth and made her suck on it whilst threatening to shoot her.
“He used to see other women all the time and if I confronted him about it he would just get angry and say he can do what he wants,” Angela said.
“I don’t remember much of the pain because I was on survival mode as I just needed to be here for my children.”
Angela said there was only one incident of pain she specifically remembers throughout the 17-year ordeal, when Blades broke her leg by jumping on top of it.
“I had found out he was seeing someone else again and he actually came home and went berserk,” she said.
“He wounded me in the stomach and as I lay on the floor he just jumped on my leg. My leg broke in half.”
Angela never confided to anyone about the abuse she was suffering, and says she was too embarrassed to speak to her family.
“I just couldn’t get out”
She described the near two decades she lived with Blades as the most isolating and lonely time of her life.
“I’d never really known what a relationship was when I met Steven, I just thought this was normal. I was embarrassed to talk about it,” Angela recalled.
“He used to isolate me from my family and friends and when I saw them I never used to say anything. I would say lies about how my injuries occurred.
“If I told them the truth and they confronted him, it would just be worse for me when I got home.
“I knew the relationship wasn’t healthy since the birth of my second child but I just couldn’t get out. I didn’t have a support network.”
Angela said she went to the police on several occasions during the 1980’s and 1990’s but that no action was ever taken against Blades.
“I used to run away to people’s houses but would always go home because I felt a burden on people,” she said.
“But after he broke my leg I just thought I can’t carry on here because he is actually going to kill me. I didn’t want my youngest son to see what my other children had.”
After 17 years of torture, Angela managed to find a new house for her and her three children, and left Blades for good.
Despite bumping into him several times in the local community, Angela never went back to him and began to move on with her life – finally free of the abuse.
She never spoke to the police again until several years later when officers contacted her wanting information about Blades.
“At first I didn’t really want to dig everything up because I had put it all to bed and I had moved on with my life,” Angela said.
“But the more I thought about it, I thought he’s going to end up killing someone because I nearly died on occasions and it needs to stop.
“He would never have stopped if it hadn’t gone to court.”
Greater Manchester is nationally recognised as a model of good practice in terms of support services available to victims
– If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police, or a support agency so you can get the help and support available.
– You can call Greater Manchester Police on 101, or alternatively people can refer themselves to St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0161 276 6515, whether or not you want make a police report.
– St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester provides a comprehensive and coordinated forensic, counselling and medical aftercare service to anyone in Greater Manchester who has experienced rape or sexual assault. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and people can access them via Greater Manchester Police, or as a self-referral.
– Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential support service run by women for women and girls who have been raped or sexually abused. Confidential helpline: 0161 273 4500.
Following a trial, Blades was found guilty of making threats to kill, two counts of GBH, seven counts of ABH, indecent assault, two counts of rape, cruelty to a person under 16 years old and controlling and coercive behaviour.
He was sentenced to 25 years in prison with an extended licence period of eight years.
“Even to this day now I can’t believe it’s really happened,” Angela said, speaking of the result.
“I waited all these years and really didn’t think this day would ever come.
“When I used to go to the police back then nothing was ever done, but this time everyone listened. I was getting a lot of support.
“It finally felt like someone was listening to me and I wasn’t alone.”
“I thought I could be a voice for other women”
Angela now wants to encourage more victims of domestic and sexual abuse – particularly in historic cases, to come forward and report to the police.
“When all this started initially I just thought to myself he’s not going to get found guilty for everything because it was so long ago,” she recalled.
“But he was found guilty of all 13 counts. I’m lost for words about that.
“I actually feel free now, finally. I thought I did before but I actually always had something there. Now he’s locked away I know he’s not going to harm anyone else.”
Angela now wants to use her trauma as a tool to help other women who are suffering at the hands of an abusive partner and are afraid to speak out.
“I thought I could be a voice for other people who are suffering, especially if they can see somebody who has actually been through it.
“If I can help one person come forward and get their perpetrator punished then that’s what I want. That’s why I waived my anonymity.
“These people need to be exposed. I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of and neither have these other girls and women that are suffering with an abusive partner.
“I am still suffering from social anxiety and I am still going through the process of healing.
“I will be affected by this all of my life.”