A New Malden mum has bravely spoken out about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her jealous and controlling ex-boyfriend, after they met through online dating.

Michelle Couzins, 43, suffers from post-traumatic disorder, occasional agoraphobia, nightmares and severe anxiety two years after breaking up with her ex.

Her former partner Liam O’Keeffe, 24, from Mitcham, pleaded guilty to putting a person in fear of violence by harassment and controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.

Mr O’Keeffe lied to her about his identity, telling her that his name was Rufio Gonzales and that he had no family, Ms Couzins said.

She added: “He told me his family were dead, that his dad had stabbed his mother and that he was in prison but they are very much alive”, she added.

Despite his lies, she described Mr O’Keeffe as having been the perfect gentleman in the first three months of their relationship, a phenomenon Ms Couzins has come to identify as ‘love bombing.’

She said: “He was funny, fun. He seemed really charming. He was so nice. He would say: ‘you are so intelligent, you are so kind’, and we did seem to have a connection then.”

However, Mr O’Keeffe’s behaviour would become more controlling once their relationship became more permanent.

She said he would insist she took phone calls on loudspeaker so he could listen in, restricted what she could wear, and deleted contacts from her Facebook account.

Ms Couzins said he took all her money so she had to rely on him to buy groceries.

Mr O’Keeffe’s jealousy even cost her her job. He would ask to accompany her to the care home where she had been working for five years so he could meet her colleagues.

She said: “He had started saying ‘could I come to work with you’ and when I said ‘no’, he started getting funny.

“He came round the back and called me out and started to have a go at me. The other carers reported it and they said we cannot have you working with us anymore. “

Ms Couzins, who described herself as "morbidly obese" while with her ex, has lost eight stone since the breakup.

She is starting a psychology and criminology course at the Open University and has got a new job as a senior carer in a small privately run care home.

However, she still struggles with nightmares, tics such as head jerking movements, irritability, and feelings of worthlessness.

Being around large groups can make her feel “crammed in” and worry that something bad is going to happen.

Mr O’Keeffe was arrested after Ms Couzins called a domestic violence helpline and reported him to the police. He will be sentenced on October 19 at Kingston Crown Court.

If you experience domestic violence, ring the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247.