Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.32 10 May 2021


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One woman, who lived under coercive control for almost 18 years, said her turning point came when her children warned her not to come home.

Coercive control has only been a criminal offence in Ireland since 2019.

Ruth Dodsworth is a weather presenter with ITV Wales in Britain, and told Lunchtime Live it took someone else to open her eyes for her.

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"I was married to Jonathan for nearly 18 years and people have asked me [about] 'early signs' and 'did you recognise them.'

"At the time I think I knew things weren't right - but I think, like every other new couple, you go into your marriage and you want to make things work.

"When little things start happening and he would lose his temper, you'd then justify it - you want to make things work, as I said.

"And actually there's an element of his sort of possessiveness and jealousy of actually being, in strange way, it's quite nice.

"But actually that sort of behavior escalated quite quickly - and very soon into our marriage things like his temper, wanting to know my whereabouts and so on really became more and more obvious.

"I think at the time you don't really see the wood from the trees, especially in a relationship, and a married relationship where you rely on that person."

'Would a court believe me?'

But Ruth said his behaviour escalated to phoning her "hundreds of times a day".

"I had quite a public role, so my job involved meeting a lot of people - in the last years, he wanted to know who I was meeting.

"If it was a man he would come with me because such was his jealousy and possessiveness that really any man - he thought - was maybe someone I was having an affair with, which I wasn't.

"Hundreds and hundreds of photographs that he took of me around the house, and his answer for everything whenever I questioned him was always 'because you're my wife".

Ruth said her case was "a fine line" between coercive control and stalking - with her husband being arrested for coercive control but also later charged with stalking.

"When he was on bail he was determined to swap cars and he put a tracker on my car, and very quickly was turning up in places where he shouldn't have been, had no reason to be.

"He was messaging the children saying 'Has mum left for work?' and they'd say 'Yes', and he'd say 'No, I know she hasn't'.

"So that separate charge of stalking then related to the tracker that he put on my car - but it's a fine line between the two.

"When you're in a relationship, and married to somebody, it's very, very difficult to know whether you can prove that.

"And for me that was always a worry - my word against his - and would a court actually believe me".

She said her turning point came when her children rang her in work one night.

"His behavior, one particular night, where he'd drunk so much - alcohol was a common theme for much of our marriage, on his part.

"The children rang me when I was in work and said: 'Mum he's being violent and abusive, don't come home because he's going to kill you'.

"And I think if I had gone home that night, he would have done".

She explained that she decided to get help after confiding in someone else.

"Actually I thought staying was actually better for the children... I didn't know how I was going to get out of it.

"But it took confiding in one person, just one person, who said to me 'Ruth, if you don't ring the police I will'.

"That really for me was the turning point."

She added: "It's so difficult to pack a bag: where do you go?

"I know there are shelters and there are refuges, but actually to ask someone for help is possibly one of the hardest things.

"At the end of the day it was easier to stay... and it took someone else to effectively take that decision out of my hands and make that for me".

'My children told me he was going to kill me' - TV presenter Ruth Dodsworth on living with coercive control

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Women's Aid on 1800-341-900 or find more information here

In an emergency dial 999 or 112.

Main image: Ruth Dodsworth. Picture by: ITV

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