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It was supposed to be a night of romance, but for one woman it turned into a nightmare that would leave her in a wheelchair and scarred for life.
It began when Natasha Breen, 28, started chatting to a man in a pub in London’s East End. They decided to go on a date and Natasha, a keen dancer, was excited.
But the night ended in tragedy when the man, who she has chosen not to name, drove her to a park and attacked her.
“He dragged me out of the car, threw me to the ground and then started kicking me. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t move. I kept screaming for help, but no one came,” she said.
The man then drove off, leaving Natasha in agony. She was eventually found by a passerby and was taken to hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe spinal injuries that would leave her confined to a wheelchair.
“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” said Natasha. “He not only took away my ability to walk, but he stole my confidence and my freedom. I feel like I’m trapped in my own body.”
Natasha’s attacker was eventually caught and sentenced to eight years in prison for grievous bodily harm.
“It’s been a long and difficult road,” she said. “But I’m determined to stay strong and to prove that I can still live a full and happy life.”
Natasha is now an ambassador for the charity Spinal Injuries UK and is using her story to raise awareness of the dangers of dating.
“I want to encourage people to be aware of their own safety and to look out for warning signs in potential partners,” she said. “No one should ever have to go through what I did.”