The family of a murdered mum-of-five have pain an emotional tribute to her – and issued a powerful message about domestic violence.

Natalie Saunders was just 33 when she was brutally murdered by her abusive and controlling partner Stephen Charlton.

She was strangled to death after being beaten in her own home in Brambles Farm, Middlesbrough.

Charlton, 24, was found guilty of her murder and was handed a life sentence, with a minimum term of 21 years.

Natalie's parents, Barbara and Charles, spoke to Teesside Live about their memories of their daughter as well as the sentence Charlton received.

"We feel deflated", Charles, 63, said.

"He's pure evil, there are no other words. He's been arrogant throughout the trial and has no remorse at all."

Natalie grew up in a loving household, her parents said.

"She absolutely loved school, and she had plenty of friends too", Barbara, 60, said

"She was a very happy and popular girl. Everyone liked Natalie.

"We used to live on a road where all of the gardens linked together, the old women loved her, she'd always be at their homes."

But the polite and caring young girl too a different path when she entered her teenage years. 

Her brother Wayne, 40, said: "From 13-years-old she completely changed".

"She got into a relationship, a one that lasted about nine years, and she was controlled.

"One minute she was a loving sister and daughter, then within the space of 24 hours it was like she'd changed into a different person.

"Things went down hill from then on."

Natalie entered into a series of abusive and coercive relationships – but her family continued to support her and tried desperately to get her away from a life of drink and drugs.

Things got so bad that Barbara even wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair , pleading for help.

Charles added that the family desperately wanted to get her out of her controlling relationships, but she dealt with it her own way.

They family said they "had no idea" what Charlton was like either.

And after her tragic death, Natalie's family are now hoping to save others who are in her position.

"Seek help, and report every single incident", Wayne said.

"If you think it (domestic abuse) is happening to someone you know, make sure you report it.

"There are thousands of people in that situation, and they need to get out. They don't want to end up like Natalie.

"Many sufferers of domestic violence don't report it as they're being controlled.

"But that one phone call to the police could be the start of something. It could be life saving."

Her dad, Charles added: "The only good that can come from this situation is to make people aware of domestic violence.

"We just love and miss her."

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