A MAN who had part of his chin bitten off by his girlfriend says he hopes that talking publicly about his ordeal will encourage other male victims of domestic violence to come forward.

Former police officer Michael Pattinson needed plastic surgery and is scarred for life after partner Tracey Pattison ripped a plum-size chunk of flesh off his face last summer.

The 41-year-old, from Darlington, is haunted by visions of Ms Pattison’s face covered with his blood and says he also has vivid nightmares.

He will need further surgery to repair unseen damage under the skin and has been told by doctors that the loss of feeling in his face – like a dental anaesthetic – will be permanent.

Mr Pattinson revealed that he lost one-and-a-half stone after last August’s attack, and had to be fed through a straw.

Returning to the scene of the assault at his home, he took a walk in the garden and saw what he thought was a strawberry lying on the ground – and then realised it was his flesh.

“Imagine finding your own chin in the garden,” he said.

“How freaky is that? It just brought the memories flooding back.

“There is not a day goes by now that I don’t think about it. It was just so freaky. It was cannibalism.

“The surgeon said if she had done it to my throat or neck, I would be dead.

“I have seen some horrendous injuries in my job as a copper, but it still freaks me out every time I think about it.

“I thought I was going to pass out because I was losing so much blood and she could have done anything if I’d gone back in the house and passed out.

“I knew I had to get to my neighbours’ and as soon as they got me in the house, I passed out.”

Mr Pattinson, who served with the Durham and West Midlands police forces and now works as a taxi driver, said the case shows that it is not just women who are domestic violence victims.

“Men can be victims too,”

he said last night. “It does happen. I hope my story might help some men come forward and I hope I am showing there is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Mother-of-two Pattison, 38, from Newcastle, admitted unlawful wounding and was this week given a nine-month suspended prison sentence with unpaid community work.

The Northern Echo reported yesterday that Teesside Crown Court heard the couple had a turbulent on-off relationship and after a temporary split last summer, agreed to meet at Mr Pattinson’s home, but ended up arguing.

During the late-night row, they ended up struggling on the floor and Pattison, who has no previous convictions, sunk her teeth into Mr Pattinson’s face while he was lying next to her.

􀁧 Men who have been the victims of domestic violence are urged to call the Men’s Advice Line on 0808-8010327.