'I became a possession, it's dehumanising' Ruth Dodsworth speaks out on coercive control

  • Watch Ruth Dodsworth's interview on ITV's Lorraine

ITV Cymru Wales Weather Presenter Ruth Dodsworth has spoken openly about her experience with domestic abuse and says "things need to change".

Ruth's ex-husband, Jonathan Wignall, was jailed for three years earlier this year after almost a decade of domestic abuse and coercive control.

Speaking on ITV's Lorraine, Ruth said: "I became a possession. It's very dehumanising, it's degrading, it's humiliating, you don't necessarily realise. But absolutely I was a possession."

The interview comes after a new Netflix's series has been praised for its realistic portrayal of abusive relationships. Maid tells the story of a single mother who turns to house cleaning after she escapes a controlling relationship.

Reflecting on the show, Ruth admitted it was uncomfortable to watch and struggles to sit through them.

"I've tried and I've recognised so many similarities, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be watching these programmes and having these conversations."

Ruth explained how the controlling behaviour increased over time, but said hindsight has made her realise there were signs from the beginning.

"I didn't see it. I just genuinely didn't realise it until almost 20 years later when my ex-husband was arrested. It took the police saying, 'these are the pointers' and he literally ticked every single box. It was quite terrifying, hindsight is an amazing thing."

"Years down the line you realise, 'Hang on a minute, I've not seen my friends, I've not seen my family. My life is very, very different'."

Looking back at the start of the relationship, she explained how Wignall would answer her phone and turn up at her place of work. She added: "Suddenly then, I didn't have my bank card, things that start to chip away."

"I used to cry going into work. I'd cry in the dressing room and then I'd just switch into work mode - weather Ruth mode. And then I'd cry knowing I was going home to it."

Ruth reflected on one particular night where the situation was at its worst. She said: "He'd be drinking quite early on in the day - alcohol was a particular feature of his daily life".

"My children rang me and said, 'Mum, don't come home because he will kill you'."

Ruth is one of the main faces of ITV Wales, known for presenting the weather and factual programmes, including Coast & Country.

When Wignall was arrested on suspicion of harassment, he told police, "Harassment? But she's my wife."

Upon sentencing, Cardiff Crown Court heard how Wignall fitted a tracking device to Ruth's car, used her fingerprint to access her phone while she was sleeping and was physically abusive towards her.

Ruth explained: "As the judge said in sentencing, there's no remorse. There's no understanding or acceptance that what you've done is wrong and actually what you've done is criminal."

After his arrest, Ruth found out that the house they lived in was rented and she had thousands of pounds worth of debt against her name.

The ITV Wales Weather Presenter now works with the police to help them recognise the signs of domestic abuse.

"It's not necessarily obvious. It's not like walking into a crime scene where you've got a body on the floor or a bank vault. Very often there's nothing tangible, there's nothing to see.

"And so going into that situation, you've got to recognise and read between the lines. Almost what's not there as opposed to what is there."

Ruth now campaigns to help others who have experienced abusive relationships.

Looking at the number of reports of domestic abuse, Ruth urged "things need to change".

"I think the terrifying thing is that one in three women will go through some form of abuse in a relationship and one in six men. So it can happen to anyone - any age, any background. This is why it's so important.

"It's only been criminal since 2015 in Wales which is a terrifying thing.

"I'm here to say to anybody in my situation, you might not recognise it in yourself or someone else, but please, please, please make that call."

Ruth has since met someone else and is much happier. "We got married and he's absolutely saved my life. My children and my family adore him and life's good."

She explained how there's a need to adapt to the new relationship, to "relearn what you would call normal life".

"I have to relearn that it's ok if my phone rings, it's ok if I need to go somewhere for work. I can do these things and he can trust me and I can trust him. It sounds so simple and it sounds so basic.

"The hardest thing in the world is to make that call and to make that change.

"It's not been easy, it's horrifying, it's terrifying - got no money, got no home, everything goes and you just know that life will never be the same again. But do you know what, thank goodness life will never be the same again because it's brilliant."

  • If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse visit the Live Fear Free website or call the helpline on 0808 80 10 800.