For weeks Sam Cochrane has maintained a dignified silence after he split from Tara Pavlovic, the reality TV sweetheart who he sensationally proposed to on Ten's Bachelor In Paradise.
But now, after Tara publicly aired details of their "toxic" romance, Sam feels he has no choice but to speak out.
In an exclusive interview from Bali, Sam, 31, tells Woman's Day how their once-fairytale romance spiralled into a devastating cycle of verbal and physical abuse, and he details the shocking nights Tara, 28, would punch, kick and bite him.
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Sam says Tara's "excessive drinking" and the verbal abuse started just after he moved to Queensland in February.
"The first time it happened, one of her friends was visiting and I'd booked a restaurant for the four of us, but she got blackout drunk, abused me and passed out."
"It was very common for her to go out partying for long periods of time," the Bachelor in Paradise star tells, adding Tara's drink of choice was bottles of wine.
"She'd call me a loser in front of friends, telling me I'm not starting my life," says Sam, adding he had no choice – they were in hiding until the Paradise finale aired.
As Tara's partying and drinking continued, the abuse got worse.
"At weekends it was this binging thing and then it would be the put-downs and the verbal attacks."
"But the next day the Tara I really liked was back and she didn't remember what she'd said, so we'd recover," Sam says.
"I begged her to stop drinking and get counselling. You think it's going to get better and I kept telling myself we were under a lot of pressure," says Sam, whose suggestions he move back to Sydney to give the couple space were knocked back by Tara.
"She told me if I did that the relationship would be over. I was too ashamed and embarrassed to tell my friends and family because everyone was so excited we were engaged and there was the added pressure that the show hadn't aired."
The trouble got worse in early May after the finale aired. In five weeks their relationship was over. "As soon as the show wrapped everything spiralled. The relationship took a back seat, the drinking kicked in and then the violence started."
It was the weekend of their Sydney engagement party at Stu Laundy's Watson's Bay pub that Tara first hit Sam.
After hours of drinking, Sam left Tara – who was "completely drunk" – and returned to the hotel. But after leaving to help a friend with an emergency he returned at 4am to be confronted by Tara, in a rage.
"As soon as I walked in she punched me square in the face, twice," says Sam. "I managed to calm her down and we went to sleep but a pattern developed."
Another time, Sam says, Tara started punching and kicking him after he left an event earlier than her. "The whole time, I was going, 'What the hell is happening?'"
The couple finally split after an explosive row at a charity event at Sydney's Flamingo Lounge. They got into an argument in the Uber back to the hotel, then Sam says Tara came at him like a "tornado."
"She bit my hand, my face and my back... I didn't actually realise how bad it was until I saw myself in the bathroom mirror."
"She did show remorse in the morning when she saw me and said she'd never do it again," says Sam, who felt he had no choice but to break off the relationship and move hotels.
Against Sam's better judgement, the couple decided to give their relationship one more shot. But it was too late, and by the time Sam announced the couple had split on Instagram in June, they'd been over for three weeks.
"I never wanted to tell this story but ultimately I wish she would get some help. She doesn't think she needs it but she's in an environment that condones it. She would say I don't hit my friends, I don't bite my friends, trying to imply that I'm the reason things got so bad, but I'm not."
WATCH: Relive Sam's proposal to Tara on BIP in the player below. Post continues...
While Sam's processing their split, Tara is dating plumber Nick Shepherdson, who friends say she's known for 10 years.
"I couldn't believe she started dating Nick so quickly," says Sam, who believes they were in contact around the time he was giving Tara one last shot.
"We had a retreat booked, but I think it was pretty much then she decided to move in with this guy."
If you are impacted by assault, domestic or family violence call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).