“IF I’d lost my life, I’d have left my children without a father – and for what?”
Those are the stark words of a Llanelli man who was assaulted on a night out.
Paul Williams (pictured), aged 36, was left with four bleeds on the brain, multiple head and facial fractures, and a haemorrhage in his eye socket, which he is still trying to recover from physically and mentally.
Speaking as part of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Just Walk Away campaign, which focuses on the rising reports of alcohol-related violence across the force, Mr Williams has revealed the ongoing effects an assault had on his life.
“Before this, I was very confident,” he said. “I was the life and soul of the party – that’s what people used to tell me.
“I was outgoing and got on with everyone. But my life has completely changed after one night out. I don’t want to go out, I suffer with anxiety, and I don’t feel like myself anymore.
“I nearly died – how do you get over that?”
Mr Williams cannot recall what happened, but remembers waking up in hospital days after the incident. He was treated for four fractures to his head, bleeds on the brain, a broken cheek bone, broken nose and jawline, multiple fractures to his eye socket and a haemorrhage due to the trauma of the assault.
“I somehow got home,” he said. “I remember knocking the door and then I blacked out.
“When I woke up, I had no idea where I was or what had happened. My partner had to tell me, and she was distraught. She was five or six weeks pregnant at the time, and didn’t know if I would pull through, which must have been awful for her.”
The physical effects of the assault are ongoing, and Mr Williams – a father of six – is anxiously waiting for appointments to assess the potential for his long-term recovery. But the reality he faces is that his life might never be the same again.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to normal,” he said. “I have a constant headache – everything down to light and noise affects me – I’ve lost my sense of smell and taste, my eye will always vibrate, and my speech went funny.
“When I first saw myself, it was horrible. I didn’t want to look at myself.”
In the months leading up to the assault, Mr Williams had been working on the launch of his own business as a landscape gardener. But after suffering severe head injuries, he has been advised to avoid any physical work, and has been forced to abandon his goal.
“I’ve had to sell my van and give it all up before I even got started,” he said. “I’ve had to come to terms with giving up my dream.
“It’s had a huge financial impact. My family and friends are helping out, but we’re having to get by day-to-day. I have always provided for my family, and as bad as it sounds, I’ve been made to feel like I’m not a man anymore.”
He admits that the emotional and trauma of suffering life-changing injuries has hit him hard, and Mr Williams faces a long road to recovery in terms of his mental health.
“Some days I can’t face leaving the house,” he said. “I’m just too scared.
“I can’t walk past where it happened – I can’t even drive past without having a panic attack. I used to be so confident, and that has been taken away from me.
“I try to pretend I’m ok, but it’s hard. It’s affected everyone. My partner has to live with it, my older children are scared for me – it’s not fair on any of them.
“I just want to tell them (the offender) it’s not worth going to jail for trying to act clever. If I’d lost my life, I would have left my kids without and father – and for what? Nothing.”