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'We need to speak up': Mum bashed by partner survives against the odds

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 12/09/2018 Melissa Downes

Warning: This article contains details that may be distressing to some readers

Simone O'Brien is a survivor - alive against all the odds after being brutally bashed with a baseball bat by the man who loved her.

"It was the first time in my life I thought I was going to die," Ms O'Brien said.

He'd never been violent before, and while sometimes controlling, she had no idea he was capable of something so vicious.

"Even my friends thought he was a gentle giant, he was a bigger man, very polite and opened the door for you," she said.

a man wearing a white shirt and black hair: Simone O'Brien is a survivor, fighting against all odds after a horrific attack. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Simone O'Brien is a survivor, fighting against all odds after a horrific attack. It was when she told him their relationship was over that everything changed.

"That night when I got home I told the children that Mummy had ended the relationship and that's when the knock on the door came. He didn't like it and that's where it snapped."

Her boyfriend grabbed a baseball bat and started hitting her, breaking her arm in two places before taking aiming at her head. Police estimate he struck her in the face up to 50 times.

"And that makes me angry, how can someone keep hitting someone, I must have looked dead."

a group of people smiling for the camera: Simone went through an incredibly horrific journey to recovery after being thrashed with a baseball bat. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Simone went through an incredibly horrific journey to recovery after being thrashed with a baseball bat.

The horrific assault was witnessed by her two girls, just 12 and 15 years old at the time. Her son was not home at the time.

"My children saw the whole thing and they've since told me they were throwing pillows, and phones and telling him to stop.

"He was still going on me. I looked over and I said to my eldest, go and get help, go and get Mummy help."

They did, calling Triple Zero and racing to the neighbours.

Two male neighbours put themselves at risk to pull the offender off Simone. Another neighbour, a radiographer, literally held Simone's head together until paramedics arrived.

Those paramedics were Phil Davies and Amy Edwards said it was a callout they'll never forget.

a couple of people that are standing together in uniform: Phil Davies and Amy Edwards said it was a callout they'll never forget. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Phil Davies and Amy Edwards said it was a callout they'll never forget.

"She had some of the most significant head and facial injuries that I had ever seen," Ms Edwards said.

They called for back-up and soon Dr Stephen Rashford arrived.

"She'd been hit across the head multiple times by a baseball bat and also suffered a fracture to her arm. Simone suffered catastrophic facial and head trauma. She's got fractures all the way through her skull."

Working quickly, they placed her in an induced coma in the back of the ambulance and started packing her face to save what was left and stop internal bleeding.

Simone doesn't remember any of this, but her family does, especially her children.

The horrific assault was witnessed by her two girls, just 12 and 15 years old at the time. Her son was not home at the time. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd The horrific assault was witnessed by her two girls, just 12 and 15 years old at the time. Her son was not home at the time.

A few days after the incident they were called to her hospital bed at 2am to say their goodbyes.

It's a scene that breaks Simone's heart.

"They were told Mummy won't make it through the night, and I just want to say that's the toughest time for me.

It was my daughter's birthday and she said that was the one day I had to say goodbye and you couldn't say Happy Birthday to me."

That was six years ago.

Since then Simone has endured more than 50 surgeries to put her face back together, and there will be more. She is blind in one eye, and will have ongoing physio to keep her jaw mobile.

Incredibly she did not suffer any brain damage. The doctor said her facial bones shattered in a way saving her brain from injury.

a person standing in front of a building: In an emotional reunion, Melissa walks hand-in-hand with Simone to meet the paramedics who saved her life. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd In an emotional reunion, Melissa walks hand-in-hand with Simone to meet the paramedics who saved her life.

Her partner was jailed for 15 years and she says that has allowed her to leave him behind.

But what she can't forget are the other victims still out there.

"After the court hearing I found out he'd been married twice before, and had children,” she said.

"But the worse thing is he assaulted the first wife, she didn't report it, and the second wife and her parents and they didn't report it so I'm the third wheel here.

"And this is what my message is out there now, we need to speak up about domestic violence."

a man standing next to a woman © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Simone is now a passionate advocate for survivors of domestic violence, speaking around the country raising awareness and inspiring others to seek help.

She recently did a presentation to staff at the Queensland Ambulance Service. That's when Dr Stephen Rashford recognised her, and remembered the night they met.

"To actually take her injuries and then amplify it by inspiring others is absolutely fantastic for the community and we're so proud of her and the little part we contributed to her outcome."

A reunion was organised between Simone and Dr Rashford and the two paramedics first on the scene. 

a man and a woman posing for a picture: Melissa Downes said she was © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Melissa Downes said she was It was an emotional moment. 

Simone confessing her heart was racing, thanks to a combination of nerves, fear and excitement. These were people she couldn't remember, wouldn't know if she walked past them but they had saved her life.

I was privileged to be part of it.

a couple of people that are talking to each other: Six years after the brutal attack at Simone O’Brien’s Brisbane home, the inspirational mum is finally able to thank the paramedics that kept her alive. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Six years after the brutal attack at Simone O’Brien’s Brisbane home, the inspirational mum is finally able to thank the paramedics that kept her alive. I held Simone's hand as we walked towards them for what was an incredibly moving reconnection. There was silence, there were hugs, there were tears and laughter and then a lot of conversation.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Simone, she told me listening to their memories of what happened was like placing that last jigsaw piece in place. 

"What they did to help keep me on this earth, I can't thank them enough for what they did, for me being here today."

National domestic violence helpline: 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). In Queensland, contact DV Connect on 1800 811 811. In an emergency call Triple Zero.

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