My evil boyfriend bit, burnt and stabbed me, put his cigarette out on my FACE and doused me in bleach
PAIGE Watkins thought she’d met the man of her dreams when she got together with Dennis Tanner.
But the sick brute tortured the young mum to within an inch of her life in a four-hour ordeal of physical and sexual violence.
Paige, 26, from London, desperately fought for survival as he held her prisoner, punching her in the head, kicking and stabbing her.
As she begged him to stop, he laughed in her face and carried on, stubbing out his cigarette on her skin.
He also poured a bottle of bleach over her and carried out a sexual assault.
She only managed to escape and flee to a neighbour’s house when he fell asleep.
Now she’s warning other women caught up in an abusive relationship not to believe their partners' promises to change.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, she said: "Men like Den never do. I gave him so many chances and it nearly cost me my life."
Paige, then 21, was on a caravan break with a friend when Den first approached her in a bar.
She said: "I was a single mum and I wasn’t looking for a man.
"But Den was a charmer and seemed a real laugh. There was no denying the instant connection between us, despite the fact he was 13 years older."
Blinded by love, I didn’t see him for who he was – and I nearly paid with my life
Paige spent the entire week with Den and, as her holiday ended, he asked if he could call her.
She said: "I agreed and gave him my number. Afterwards I doubted he’d bother to get in touch but I was wrong.
"He was so eager, he’d drive down to see me and take me out for meals.
"Showering me with gifts, he treated me like a princess and he couldn’t put a foot wrong.
"I told my mum, ‘I think my luck’s finally changed.’ After six weeks we became an official couple."
Den wanted to spend all his time with her and, at first, Paige felt flattered.
She said: "He kept complimenting me, telling me, ‘Paige, you’re gorgeous,’ and it was so lovely to feel wanted."
But as the days passed, Den started to become possessive, banning her from seeing her friends.
She said: "He’d say to me, ‘you don’t need them, you’ve got me.’ He’d say the same about my family."
Lovestruck, Paige let it pass, as she did when one day she put on her pink and white striped dress and he told her: "Take it off, it makes you look fat."
Blind to the way he was controlling her, after five months they moved in together and two months later Den proposed with a diamond ring.
Paige said: "It had been such a whirlwind but I felt so happy and I said ‘yes’."
To celebrate they booked a week to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, to enjoy some November sun.
But two days into their stay, Den’s face suddenly clouded by the pool one day.
After he finished his cigarette, I watched in horror as the lit end came towards my face. I begged him not to, but he stubbed it out on my flesh
Paige said: "He snapped at me, saying, ‘why are you looking at other men?’
"Taken aback, I told him I wasn’t. But as the week went on his jealousy grew.
"He shouted at me for wearing make-up, even though I always had. And if another man as much as glanced at me, he’d fly off the handle."
It left Paige so upset that she told him it was over as soon as they got back to the UK. But Den won her over once again.
She said: "He looked devastated and sounded so ashamed. He told me he didn’t know what had come over him and he promised to change.
"Because I loved him, I believed him so we ended up back together."
But it wasn’t long before he started accusing Paige of cheating again.
She said: "I hadn’t as much looked at another man since being with him but I couldn’t do anything right.
"I even stopped going out alone, but it didn’t make any difference. He’d check my phone constantly and he made me delete Facebook.’
Then, in February 2016, Paige discovered she was pregnant.
She said: "I felt scared telling Den but he grinned and said: ‘That’s wonderful!’ Naively I hoped things would change, that everything would now be OK."
When I looked in the mirror and saw it for myself, I wretched. Battered and burned, with stitches across my wounds I looked like something from a horror film
But as her pregnancy progressed, Den wasn’t interested in coming to any of her appointments.
And as her bump grew, so did his insults. Paige said: "He’d call me fat and when I went into labour at 34 weeks he told me I was attention seeking and wouldn’t take me to hospital."
Paige rang her mum instead and she went with her.
She said: "It was only after I rang Den to confirm I was definitely in labour that he came and was there in time to see our daughter being born by Caesarean.
"Afterwards he looked every inch the proud father and when we took her home, I thought we could put our difficulties behind us.
"All I wanted was to be a perfect little family. I even suggested us having relationship counselling but Den didn’t want to know."
Meanwhile, Paige did everything she could to please him but it was never enough.
Things were as bad as ever and they split several times over the following months.
Paige said: "Each time he’d lure me back, telling me: ‘I can’t live without you.’ When he insisted he loved me I stupidly believed him.
"I was in complete denial, clinging to the hope that one day he’d change."
Then one night in August 2018, things came to a head. Den had gone out to a casino, and in the early hours Paige found him sat on the sofa with a face like thunder.
She said: "The first thing he said was: ‘Give me your phone.’
"I told him: ‘It’s over there,’ pointing to where it was and I said I was going back to bed. But suddenly his eyes flamed with rage.
"‘No you’re not,’ he snarled, as he flew at me and he dragged me back into the living room.
"As I struggled frantically, I felt an explosion of pain as he punched me in the head.
"He kept demanding I tell him who I as cheating with, but I wasn’t cheating with anyone. He wouldn’t listen to reason.
"Ranting and raving, he kept grabbing me by the hair and punching me. He bit my face too."
I felt the life draining out of me. I said: ‘If you’re going to kill me, do it.’ Then I lost consciousness
At one point, Den disappeared into the kitchen. When he came back out, he was holding a chopping knife.
Paige said: "My eyes widened in terror and I cried: ‘What are you doing?'
"Then he lunged at me and I screamed in agony as he stabbed the blade into my shoulder."
Crying and trembling, Paige fled to the bathroom but there was no lock and Den burst in, dragging her back into the living room.
She said: "He slammed me down onto the sofa and sexually assaulted me. The knife was still beside him and when he’d finished he stabbed me again, this time in the leg.
"Then he stopped to light a cigarette. Shaking and covered in blood, I prayed he’d come to his senses.
"But after he finished his cigarette, I watched in horror as the lit end came towards my face.
"I begged him not to, but he stubbed it out on my flesh."
And Den still hadn’t finished. Next, he poured a bottle of bleach over Paige and threatened to kill her.
She said: "All I thought about was my girls. I begged him to let me ring my mum so I could tell her to look after them.
"But he just laughed and afterwards he carried on kicking and punching and threatening to kill me.
"It got to the point where I could feel the life draining out off me.
"I couldn’t take anymore, and I said to him: ‘If you’re going to kill me, do it.’ Then I lost consciousness."
When Paige came round, she saw that Den had fallen asleep beside her.
She said: "I staggered to my feet and fled. When I got outside I banged on a neighbour’s door, begging for help.
"I was hysterical and could barely talk, but they helped me and I was taken to hospital. They also got a message to my mum.
"When she saw me in A&E, she gasped in shock. She couldn’t believe what Den had done to me."
WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
You don't have to suffer in silence.
If you are experiencing domestic violence or someone you know is there are groups that can help.
Refuge runs a free, 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.
You can also visit the website or contact Women’s Aid.
Paige underwent scans and her wounds were stitched. The police came and took details.
She said: "I couldn’t stop shaking as they asked questions. But I managed to tell them it was Den’s handiwork.
"When I looked in the mirror and saw it for myself, I wretched.
Battered and burned, with stitches across my wounds I looked like something from a horror film."
Paige remained in hospital for two nights. Afterwards she went back to her mum’s while a relative looks after her little girls.
She said: "I couldn’t let them see the mess I was in. They wouldn’t have recognised me as their mummy."
Meanwhile, the police arrested Den and charged him with six counts of wounding with intent, one count of false imprisonment, four counts of threats to kill and one count of sexual assault by penetration.
He pleaded not guilty, which meant it had to go to trial.
Paige said: "In the months leading up to the court case, my wounds slowly healed but not the mental scars. I suffered flashbacks, panic attacks and insomnia.
"It was only the thought of my two little girls that kept me going, they needed me."
In February 2019, Den Tanner, aged 38, of Southwark, London, appeared at Woolwich Crown Court.
Paige bravely gave her evidence behind a screen and when the trial finished, the jury found him guilty on all counts.
The judge sentenced him to 20 years and imposed restraining orders.
Afterwards the officer on the case said: "His jealousy was the catalyst for an appalling attack…
"It is important to recognise the incredible bravery of the victim in this case, whose evidence was vital in securing this prosecution."
Paige said: "I’m relieved knowing he’s behind bars.
"He’s a monster and I shouldn’t have given him so many chances. Blinded by love, I didn’t see him for who he was – and I nearly paid with my life.
"Now l’m concentrating on getting my life back on track with my girls. I’m receiving support from a domestic violence worker."
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