Richard, that is truly a shocking piece of writing – awful to read but really well done. Very powerful. It doesn’t feel gratuitous to me, awful as it is.
Jane, I think I know the scene you’re referring to 😉 Reading through this thread and going back to my own comments to you, the issue I had with it was that it felt as if you were avoiding the scene a little bit (I completely understand why) – compared to the rest of the wonderfully immersive writing, it was the one scene where I pulled out of the action, rather than being yanked even deeper in because of its power. I know the POV is unique but maybe you could play with the idea of a closer PD, or one that is disjointed and trauma coloured, so we don’t get a literal description of each blow but rather the effect of it on your MC. Perhaps the extreme trauma could push her closer than she has ever been to Elizabeth? Sort of mashing them together through trauma? Which would also work really well with your ending, actually. It could be a real turning point in self discovery and could also follow through into the escape scene, which also felt a little quick and easy to me. Just thinking on the page. You’ve had lots of great suggestions here, I have every confidence you’ll find your solution and I can’t wait to read the revision 🙂