A MUM-OF-TWO has admitted she married her vicious boyfriend AFTER he had raped her in front of their baby daughter.
Helena Hayden, 33, stayed with James Upton, 36, for 14 years, keeping his sick abuse a secret until she found the courage to leave him.
In October of last year, Upton was found guilty of three counts of rape and jailed for eight years.
She said: “I grew up on the same estate as James and I’d always fancied him, as did my friends.
“We started dating when I was 17. Five months later James proposed to me on his 21st birthday.
“I was over the moon and felt so grown-up wearing my sparkling engagement ring.
But within weeks, Upton became controlling.
Helena recalled: “He decided when and what we ate for dinner, often refusing to eat the food I cooked.”
Head over heels in love, she ignored his behaviour and put on a brave face.
Three months later, Helena discovered she was pregnant.
She said: “We were delighted and I couldn’t wait to start my own family. Within weeks of them getting engaged, Helena told how Upton became controlling
In May 2002, Helena gave birth to Jessica*, now 14, who weighed a hefty 8lb 15oz.
But instead of being a doting father, Upton left Helena to do all of the bathing and nappy changes.
And just four days after giving birth, he did the unthinkable.
Helena recalled: “He began pestering me for sex. I was still sore as I’d been given stitches after delivering such a large baby. I was shocked. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer and eventually he wore me down.”
Over time, Upton’s behaviour got worse.
Helena said: “He controlled our income and isolated me from my friends. If I dared leave the house, he bombarded me with texts and accused me of cheating.”
“I felt suffocated, James was taking over my life.”
In 2003 Upton proved how twisted he really was.
Helena said: “I was tidying while Jessica was playing in her cot, just metres away.
“Suddenly James burst into the room with an evil look in his eyes.
“He pinned me down and raped me on the bed.
“Determined not to scare my daughter, I gritted my teeth and let him get on with it.
“Afterwards, I felt disgusting. James was remorseful but I didn’t want him near me. I was shaken and couldn’t believe he’d done such a disgusting thing – and in front of his own daughter.”
Helena wanted to leave Upton but she was terrified.
In August 2004, she gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Sarah*, now 12.
Just a year later, she married Upton in front of their friends and family.
Helena said: “My mouth was spread into a wide grin for the wedding pictures but my insides were screaming. Marrying James was the last thing I wanted but I was too embarrassed to tell my loved ones what he was really like.
“After the wedding, James continued to belittle me, calling me fat and ugly.
“Emotionally I was battered from the mental and sexual abuse.
“Over the course of our relationship, my own husband forced himself on me several times.”
In February 2014, Helena started going to a Slimming World group.
Within eight months, her 5ft 5in frame shrank to just 8st 7lbs after she lost 3st.
But she knew her dramatic weight loss was due to stress.
In October of that year, she was diagnosed with depression after suffering with Upton’s abuse for more than a decade.
Two months later – in December 2014 – she found the strength to leave him after she heard rumours that he was messaging other women.
She said: “A lightbulb went off in my head and I realised I was never going to get better if I stayed with him.”
But Upton refused to let her go easily and bombarded her with calls and texts begging her to take him back.
Four months later, in April 2015, Helena found the courage to report Upton’s horrific actions to the police.
It took seven months for the CPS to build up a case against him but eventually he was arrested.
In October of last year Upton was found guilty of three counts of rape at Nottingham Crown Court.
He was jailed for eight years and given an indefinite restraining order.
Helena said: “I was disgusted that James pleaded not guilty and I was forced to give evidence in front of a jury.
“After everything he’d put me through, he was still trying to control me.
“My girls haven’t seen their dad in over two years – he’s the one missing out, not them. We’re finally moving on with our lives. It took me a long time but now I feel stronger than ever.”
*Sarah and Jessica are fake names to protect their identity.
Earlier this month we told how a brave woman recalled her torturous “week of hell” during which her abusive, jealous boyfriend injected her with heroin, raped her and beat her with a belt.