A woman whose marriage was saved partly through counselling has built a free service for those in need.

On Saturday Ihu Nweke will launch the Behind The Mask project with a glamorous ball as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

At De Vere Hotel in Cheshunt, attendees will obscure themselves with face masks, symbolising the often hidden nature of domestic abuse.

As well as shining a spotlight on violence in the home, the project will provide potentially marriage saving counselling on a means tested basis.

For Mrs Nweke, the project is personal.

She said: "I have the strong feeling that a lot of society's problems can be relieved if the home is stable.

"I have been married for 13 years now and I have had times when I wanted to get help. I have considered leaving.

"I thought there must be another way. But I wasn't able to find much to help me, and when I did, it was very unaffordable.

"I thought 'if I am this strong and I am in this position, what about people that are in a really dire situation?'"

For Mrs Nweke and her husband, who live in The Croft, Loughton a break down in verbal communication led to anger and tension within their marriage.

She added: "At the time it was lots of arguments and our conversations got very heated.

"It was disagreements that would lead to verbal abuse which was inappropriate with children around.

"I felt strongly about us communicating better."

Eventually the couple found an affordable counsellor who was able to help them tackle their issues in a more productive way.

Now, Ms Nweke says, they are aware of their flaws and things are better.

In a bid to provide similar help to those who cannot afford it themselves, the 41 year-old has convinced counsellors to provide their services either for free or for a reduced price.

So far ten have signed up, but once the project's website goes live over the next few months, those seeking help will be able to log on, outline their issues and choose a professional with appropriate expertise.

Mrs Nweke added: "I know that abuse can cause significant damage and long-term effects.

"That’s why I’m launching Behind the Mask. I would like to offer ongoing help and support to domestic violence survivors and their families because the family is still the best place to raise future generations.

"If we get that right, there will be less broken people out there hurting people and there will be a reduced strain on public services from the NHS to the police."

Tickets for the event cost £65 and can be purchased here.

For more information about Behind the Mask, click here.