ITV Wales presenter Ruth Dodsworth has told how her children phoned her telling her not to come home because her husband was threatening to kill her.
She shared how he made her life a misery and left her feeling “nervous, frightened, and broken”.
A court heard last week how Jonathan Wignall, 54, controlled every aspect of Ms Dodworth’s life and would frequently attend the Cardiff studios where she was filming and on location, would access her phone messages and mail, prevented her from socialising with friends and family, threatened suicide, and even had a tracker fitted to her car.
Ruth told how the abuse came to a head one day when their children phoned her to warn her not to come home, Wales Online reports.
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And now, the broadcaster wants to help other victims of domestic abuse by sharing her experience.
She said: “Just under two years ago when things escalated, I had been in work during that week, he had been phoning hundreds of times a day, turning up at the office, sending text messages asking who I was with.
“One day, he started drinking early in the day and by the time the children got home from school they were phoning me, warning me don’t come home, saying he was going to kill me.
“That was a turning point. I didn’t go home, and I think that if I did, I don’t think I would be here today in any way shape or form.
“I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t ask for help. It took confiding with someone else saying that if I didn’t phone the police, they would.”
The couple had been married for 18 years, and Ruth told the presenters how she desperately tried to make the marriage work.
They married in 2001 but their marriage began to deteriorate in 2010 when Ruth returned to work.
Ruth added: “Within a marriage you try to make it work, you make excuses, you try to justify, you plaster a smile but life is not always what it seems.
“Especially with a job like ours, you smile and make it look like you are happy, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was determined to make it work, but it just didn’t in the end.”
She continued: “The signs were there, we were happy but there were moments where his temper became obvious. I was the one person he could direct his anger at as business started to fail.
“But the very phrase domestic abuse was very difficult for me to say, even now, because I still didn’t see myself in that category.”
Ruth admitted that she led the “Instagram life”, but her husband started getting paranoid and jealous and even offering to pay their children money to get into her phone to check the messages.
Speaking about the level of abuse, she explained: “If I waited for him to go to sleep first, it was OK. But if I went to sleep first he would slap my face to wake me up because it was not on his terms.
“This is a man that I loved and is the father of my children. It is degrading, it was humiliating but it is so hard to get out. I would say to people, just get out. Speak to someone.”
After his arrest, Ruth found out that the house they lived in was rented and there was thousands of pounds worth of debt in her name that she had no idea about.
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She said: “I have worked for 25 years but have nothing to show for it. I am not able to go for a mortgage, can’t take out a credit card, but I have got my children, I am sitting here talking to you now and I have got family around me who love me.
“The are dark days, but I was saved and if people can do that for me, they can do that for everyone.
“Not being believed was something I was worried about, but I was believed.”
Last week a court heard how that controlling nature, which lasted nine years, had a “devastating impact” on Ms Dodsworth and even affected her career as as a presenter with ITV Wales after his continual harassment affected her confidence.
In a statement read out to the court Ms Dodsworth, 45, said she would have to portray a “happy, sunshine-like” personality while on television when she felt the opposite inside.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday heard Wignall was arrested on October 18, 2019, after his behaviour came to a head after calling her more than 150 times during the day and Ms Dodsworth did not return to the family home in Cowbridge for fears for her safety.
He was jailed for three years. Details of the sentencing here.
Sentencing, Judge Daniel Williams said: “It’s clear you have no remorse for that which you did. You seek to justify your actions and in your eyes you have done no wrong and you have no perception to how others may see see you.
“You affect the air of a respectable beleaguered but successful businessman but you are not. You are a fantasist with a fragile ego which makes you an unrepentant possessive bully.”
If you are a victim of domestic in East Yorkshire and need support now, call the domestic abuse partnership on 01482 318 759.