‘I thought I would die’

“IT was like hell and I am lucky to be alive.”   Those are the words of “house of horrors”  survivor Avril Gordon, 52, speaking from her hospital bed yesterday afternoon.

Gordon was rushed to hospital in a critical condition late last Thursday  after being locked up, savagely burnt and almost beaten to death with chains and table legs, in what police have described as  a horrifying case of domestic violence.

Yesterday morning Gordon underwent more surgery on her face but will have to have further operations to repair part of her skull, which is still exposed.

She described the past three months of torture as a “vicious jealousy feud” in which  her husband, Frederick, falsely accused her of talking to other men.

“It was hell and I am glad it is over,” she said softly.  “Even when I was locked   in the bathroom he accused me of talking to people through the window.”
Gordon  said  that at one stage she had thought the ordeal  was over and “I was going to die”.

He used to lock me in the bathroom or bedroom every day when he went to work,” she said.

“When he came home he used to let me out and beat me  with either a piece of wood or chain. I was too terrified to do anything.”

Over the past two weeks, however, the violence had intensified. “It  got much worse and if the police had not found me I think I would have died. He used to beat me before going to work and then again when he got home.” 

The abuse started two years back when Avril first met Frederick while he was based at an air force base in Johannesburg, where she was  living. “He used to beat me when I first met him and I eventually could not take it anymore and moved in with my daughter, who also lived in Johannesburg,” she said. 

 “After a few months he came back telling me  he had changed and that we must try going out again. I left my job at the time and when  he was transferred to Port Elizabeth  I moved with him.”

Police said the couple had married about six months ago. Avril’s daughter, Vallery Figueria, 31, flew into Port Elizabeth yesterday after police contacted her grandmother. If I did not know it was my mother I would not be able to identify her. I am so angry and so shocked at this.”

Figueria said  she had been  unable to get hold of her mother  telephonically as Frederick made excuses as to her whereabouts.

“Whenever I called her phone it told me the subscriber was unavailable so I had to try to get hold of her through him,”  she said. “I called all the time and he always had an excuse like he was at the shops or at work. One time in February he let me speak to her but I could hear I was on speaker phone.”

Figueria said that during the conversation she had attempted to get “some kind of signal” as to where her mother was  and if she   was alright. “I suspected  there was abuse but when I spoke to her she said everything was fine,” she said. “When I spoke to my mom now she said he had warned her to say that.”

Frederick Gordon is due to appear in court today on a charge of attempted murder.

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