- Sokha Nuon, 34, from Melbourne, thought her new boyfriend was perfect
- But John Grima, 39, flew into a rage after finding a selfie on her phone
- Was fixated on one of her old selfies; convinced himself she was cheating
A domestic abuse survivor has spoken out after she was violently attacked by a jealous boyfriend who was obsessed with a revealing selfie that she had taken long before they met.
Sokha Nuon, 34, from Melbourne, was thrilled to be asked out by auto-electrician John Grima when she took her car to the garage in 2012.
But he soon became possessive which culminated in a brutal, sustained attack in which he beat her with a meat tenderiser – leaving her suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Sokha Nuon, 34, from Melbourne, has bravely spoken out after she survived a sustained attack from a jealous and controlling ex boyfriend who was convinced she was cheating on him
She was thrilled to be asked out by auto-electrician John Grima, 39, when she took her car to the garage
The selfie that started it all: John found a selfie with some cleavage showing (pictured) that Sokha had taken before their relationship began but he became obsessed with it
But he gave no hint of his violent tendencies at first and Sokha couldn’t resist the spark she felt with the 39-year-old.
The pair quickly became serious and a few weeks later Sokha moved into John’s place.
She also learned more about her new boyfriend, including that he had lost his pregnant wife in a car crash three years earlier.
‘My heart broke thinking what he’d been through,’ she said. ‘He was a real gentleman. Always opening doors and giving me compliments.
But soon things began to change.
John became increasingly controlling and obsessed with looking through the photos on her phone.
One day he found some pictures she had posted on Instagram before they had started going out together. One was a selfie of Sokha capturing her in a low cut top.
‘He angrily asked me “Who have you sent that to?”,’ Sokha said. ‘I told him “no one” but he was enraged. Eventually I calmed him down, but the selfie became his obsession.’
Sokha says the physical scars have healed but she had to have counselling to cope with the legacy of being beaten, abused and controlled by her ex-boyfriend
Then, a few weeks later, John was in a bad mood when he picked Sokha up from her job as a carer at an old people’s home. When they got back to the house he accused her of cheating.
‘He thought I was sending photos to someone while I was at work,’ she said. ‘Then he head-butted me in the nose.’
John left her with serious injuries including a brain haemorrhage and dark bruising on her face
After leaving Sokha shocked and in pain, with tears streamed down her face. John just stalked outside for a cigarette.
Despite the viciousness of the attack, Sokha admits that she forgave him, believing that it was ‘a one-off’. She said: ‘Part of me hoped his jealousy meant he loved me. But his anger got worse.’
He also became extremely controlling and isolated his girlfriend from everyone else in his life.
She said: ‘I was avoiding my friends and family. John was obsessively clean. I would spend hours mopping floors and polishing, only to be shouted at by John saying it wasn’t good enough.
‘Eventually, I sought help in a refuge and got a family violence intervention order issued against him.’
Then John contacted Sokha on Facebook promising he was sorry and things would be better.
‘I decided to give him another chance,’ she said. ‘But what a mistake that was.’
In April 2013, John’s violence became so bad that Sokha feared for her life. He took her phone and driver’s licence off her and encouraged her to give up her job.
And one day his rage exploded into a sickening beating that left her fearing for her life.
He launched into a tirade of abuse, once again accusing her of cheating.
She said: ‘He punched me in the face. I fell to the ground, and he carried on kicking and punching me.
In April 2013, John’s violence became so bad that Sokha feared for her life. He took her phone and driver’s licence off her and encouraged her to give up her job
‘In the end I had no strength to protect myself and just cowered in the corner as he rained down punches on me.
‘Then I heard the door shut as John left. I couldn’t believe my perfect man had turned into such a monster.’
When John returned, instead of saying sorry he launched into another attack.
This time he grabbed a meat tenderiser from the kitchen and beat Sokha over the legs and bottom before locking her in the house.
‘I was only let out of the bedroom when John wanted the house to be cleaned,’ she said.
‘He attacked me countless times, bashing my head against the wall and yanking my hair out. I lost hope of ever being able to leave.’
On the fourth evening, Sokha was cleaning when she noticed John wasn’t around. Seeing her opportunity, she ran out into the yard and jumped the fence.
She still has scars on her legs after he beat her limbs with a meat tenderiser
She banged on her neighbours’ door, begging for help. When they saw what state she was in they wrapped her in a blanket and took me to the police, where they called for an ambulance.
Once in hospital, Sokha finally felt safe and told the police what happened.
Sokha had suffered a brain haemorrhage with deep purple bruising over her forehead, eyes, cheek, jaw and shoulder. She also had defensive cuts and bruises over her forearms.
‘Recovery was slow and I still have scars on my legs and the outline of a bite on my arm. But it’s not just the physical scars. I had weekly counselling sessions for a long time before I was able to go back to work,’ she said.
In October 2014, John Grima, then 37, pleaded guilty to one charge of intentionally causing serious injury and one charge of contravening a family violence intervention order. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years.
A year on, Sokha is still recovering both physically and mentally but she has found a new man, Daymion, 34,
The court heard how after the sustained assaults, Sokha made a list of ‘chores’ she had done that day and wrote a note that said: ‘Sorry John but I have to go. You are either going to kill me or I am going to keep copping bashings.’
The Local Age reported that in her sentencing remarks, Judge Campton told Grima his violent behaviour was ‘appalling, cowardly and brutal and showed a total disrespect for her as a person’.
The judge also praised Sokha’s ‘considerable courage’ in escaping John and raising the alarm.
In May 2015, Sokha successfully sued John and he was ordered to pay $70,000 (£49,478) in compensation for pain and suffering.
A year on, Sokha is still recovering both physically and mentally but she has found a new man, Daymion, 34, and feels happy.
‘I’m telling my story to warn other women about staying with a violent partner. Walk away the first time he hits you. That’s what I wish I’d done,’ she said.
SHARE this shocking domestic abuse story with friends.