I was 37, divorced and a mum to two primary school age girls when an old school friend got in touch on Facebook .
I’d known Babur Karamat Raja, Bobby to his friends, for 25 years and we were soon chatting regularly.
From our first date, it was a whirlwind – within two weeks, he told me he loved me, and three months later he moved in.
It felt like a fairy tale.
Bobby was brilliant with my girls, so when he told me he wanted to be a father more than anything in the world, I decided to try for another baby.
Bobby was over the moon when I found out I was pregnant.
He picked me up, crying, and told me I’d given him the best gift possible.
There was just one thing stopping me from feeling truly happy: Bobby came from a strict Muslim family and his mother was obsessed with the idea of him having an arranged marriage.
I thought if she just met me and saw how happy we were, she might change her mind.
But he told me she’d refused to meet me.
When I was eight months pregnant, on what started as an ordinary Friday, Bobby had asked me to meet him in town for a bank appointment.
I parked in a car park a short walk from the town centre in Sutton Coldfield.
There is a wide tree-lined alleyway beside a churchyard that is a shortcut into town.
I hesitated about whether to take the busier, longer route, but it was raining so I took the shortcut.
I heard footsteps following me and saw a scruffy man with his head down and his hood up, so I quickened my pace to reach the end of the alley where there were buildings and people.
But as I reached the street, he jumped on me.
Within seconds, he’d pulled out a 12-inch carving knife and was stabbing me in the chest, over and over again.
I don’t remember pain. All I could think about was my bump and my girls at home with their nan.
Two passersby came to my aid, jumping on him and trying to restrain him.
But even though they were trying to hold him back he was still stabbing me.
I screamed, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’
Survival instinct allowed me to break free and I stumbled down the alleyway a few feet before collapsing.
He released himself from my rescuers and continued stabbing me as I lay on the floor.
He held my arm down and sawed through my wrist, opening up my artery.
He stabbed me in my stomach and then held the knife to my throat, just as a teenage lad came round the corner and ripped him off me.
By chance, a police patrol was walking nearby and heard me screaming.
The attack had lasted nine minutes, and I had stab wounds in my stomach, liver, uterus, chest and wrist.
Blood was spraying everywhere from the artery in my wrist and I could see the inside of my muscles on my arm, like a drawing from an anatomy book.
The police officers pressed down on my wounds, trying to stem the bleeding, and guided my hand to hold in my own intestines that were spilling out.
I was airlifted from the scene.
I was drifting in and out of consciousness, and my right lung had collapsed.
At hospital, doctors ran with my stretcher through the hospital corridors.
I was rushed into theatre, where 30 different medics waited.
I thought, ‘I can’t fight any more, just put me to sleep’ as I went under.
The next day I awoke surrounded by medics who told me that, by some miracle, I had a baby girl, lying in the incubator by my bed.
The knife had missed her by 2mm.
There was a ventilator over my mouth and when they took it off, I asked, ‘Where’s Bobby?’
Three police came into the room and broke earth-shattering news.
It was Bobby who had attacked me.
I didn’t want to believe it but an odd, fragmented memory came back from the attack: Bobby’s face lunging towards me, and thinking he’d come to save me.
The attacker seemed to be a lot fatter than Bobby, but police explained he had a rucksack under his hoody, filled with spare clothes and bin bags for his getaway.
My world fell apart.
I was utterly broken, but I needed to carry on for my girls.
Two weeks later, I was released from hospital.
Doctors say they have no idea how I am alive.
People ask me if I ever had any inkling Bobby was capable of this, but it didn’t fit with the Bobby I’d known for decades.
It’s like he died that day in the alley, and I mourned him.
Three months later, he pleaded guilty in court.
He was cold, calm and detached, while I sobbed.
He gave absurd reasons like being under pressure from his family and that he knew his mother would never accept me.
Financial problems came to light too that I didn’t know about – he was being kicked out of his business.
He claimed these factors had made him temporarily lose his mind, but I don’t understand why killing me could even have been an option.
I was devastated when he was sentenced to just 18 years in jail.
It was a horrific, calculated attack with no warning signs, but he’s due for parole in nine years.
Several months after the attack, I visited him in prison.
I was determined for him to look me in the eye and explain himself.
He apologised so casually, and spoke as if I had been attacked by someone else, telling me I’m brave and he’s proud of me.
I’ve had intensive therapy to overcome my post-traumatic stress disorder.
It’s been very hard for the girls to come to terms with it all, but they’ve been incredibly strong.
In hospital, I worried about how they were going to feel about the baby – she was half Bobby’s, after all – but if anything, it’s just enforced their love for her.
They are so protective of her.
My baby, who is now three, was starved of oxygen during the attack, and we don’t know yet whether she’ll have any developmental problems.
Child psychologists have advised me to talk about the attack from an early age to prevent a shock later on.
It’s exceptionally hard and I’m dreading the day it sinks in and she has to face the horrible reality of it all.
After the attack I thought it would just be me and the kids for the rest of our lives.
But about six months after the attack I realised I couldn’t let Bobby isolate me forever.
I recently met someone lovely, and I’m very happy – something I never thought possible.
I’m determined not to let Bobby curtail my life, and I’m back to work with a great new job as head of fundraising at a children’s charity.
People say I’m an inspiration for surviving this, but I don’t feel like I am.
I just hope my story will show people you can get through anything and come back from the brink.
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