From Brutal Assault Survivor to Domestic Abuse Advocate: Esther Garrity’s Remarkable Transformation

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Six years ago, Esther Garrity’s life hung in the balance after a brutal assault by her boyfriend on an otherwise ordinary night out. Her transformation since that horrific incident is almost as symbolic as her decision to swap her blonde tresses for a brunette hue. Esther sees her survival as a rebirth, distinguishing between her former self or “little Esther” and the resilient woman she has evolved into post-attack.

On an ill-fated evening in April 2017, 18-year-old Esther and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Sam Farley, were in their native Middlesbrough, enjoying some drinks. The relationship had blossomed in September of the prior year and had been sustained by Esther’s regular visits back home from her studies in Manchester to see Sam.

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However, a night that began in camaraderie concluded with Esther battling severe brain injuries while Sam faced charges of attempted murder. Victoria, Esther’s mother, still graphically recollects the ghastly knock on her door, bearing news of her daughter’s assault and offering her a swift ride to the nearby James Cook University Hospital.

Victoria encountered a chilling sight. Esther’s head was grotesquely swollen, to the point where Victoria could only identify her by her eyebrows. Overwhelmed by her daughter’s bleak state, she succumbed to her trembling legs, collapsing on the hospital floor.

Jessica, an intensive care nurse, painstakingly brushed the blood from Esther’s hair, sparing her the need for a complete shave. According to a paramedic who had attended to her, Esther’s injuries were among the most appalling he had seen on a survivor.

Farley, during his horrendous attack, had broken Esther’s jaw, knocked out several of her teeth, and caused critical brain swelling by stomping on her head 17 times. As the police arrived on the scene, Farley, under the influence of a fatal mix of LSD, cocaine and ketamine, was ranting about being God.

He subsequently served a 12-and-a-half-year sentence for grievous bodily harm with intent, after the initial charge of attempted murder was modified at Teesside Crown Court. Farley had manipulated Esther into believing that his ill-natured actions were attributable to a fictitious character he named “Bad Sam”. In retrospect, Esther labels their seemingly strong relationship as a classic case of ‘love bombing,’ a sinister tactic to control and manipulate.

Astoundingly, Esther stood by Farley during his trial and subsequent imprisonment, caught in an emotional whirlwind manipulated by the man who nearly ended her life. Four years after his imprisonement, she finally admitted to be living under his philophrenic spell.

Today, Esther, now a personal trainer, is a survivor who advocates for awareness of domestic abuse. She underlines abuse being a choice, encouraging women to recognize the warning signs. After enduring her traumatic past, Farley, who was released in August, is a specter of her past, whom she asserts is ‘dead’ to her.

Although the physical and emotional scars still linger, Esther continues to rebuild her life, battling memory issues, and relying on her mother for daily chores. The most conspicuous change is her hair, a testament to her resilience.

Although she identifies as a blonde at heart, reminders of the traumatic past push her to maintain her brunette look. In moments of despair, she visualizes holding the hand of ‘Little Esther,’ assuring herself of their strength and resilience.

Esther, excited about her future, is resolute about forging a stronger version of herself and reinforces the mantra that trauma does not define an individual.