ITV's Ruth Dodsworth says leaving abusive ex-husband was a matter of 'live or die'

Ruth Dodsworth speaking on ITV's Loose Women

ITV Wales presenter Ruth Dodsworth has said leaving her abusive ex-husband was a matter of "live or die".

Ruth, who has been presenting the weather on ITV for 25 years, appeared on ITV's Loose Women one year since her former husband was jailed for a nine-year campaign of controlling behaviour, harassment and stalking against her during their marriage.

Jonathan Wignall was sentenced to three years in prison in April 2021, but could soon be released after serving half.

"I didn't know what coervice control actually was but my relationship is absolutely one defined by it", Ruth told the Loose Women panellists.

"It began with a little bit of jealousy and possessiveness... but suddenly a line is crossed and it becomes overwhelming and overpowering."

Ruth described how contacts in her phone began to disappear, and she was told that she could no longer see certain friends.

"It happens under the radar", said Ruth.

"It's a type of domestic abuse but it's not necessarily visible. It's so subtle that I lived with it for 20 years.

"I certainly didn't know that it was coercive control."

Asked to describe what the marriage was like, Ruth said: "When he was nice he was the nicest person... charm personified. But that didn't last and the frightening thing is you never knew when it was going to switch.

"I'd leave home in the morning and I'd be in tears going to work... I'd plaster my telly face on, walk into the studio and smile and then go home again in tears not wanting to go home.

"If I was five minutes late - 'where have you been?'

"If I was away filming, when I got there the first thing I'd have to do was FaceTime to show him I was where I was and there was no-one else with me.

"The fact I had a pin number on my phone he absolutely hated."

Ruth described the "turning point" as one evening when her children called her and warned her not to come home.

"I was deeply unhappy and I told him the marriage was over, but that made it worse", said Ruth.

Ruth has presented the weather on ITV Wales for 25 years. Credit: ITV Wales

"One particular night I'd gone to work as normal but during the course of that day he must have started drinking early on... by the time my kids got home they said Mum, we're ok, but absolutely do not come home. If you come home he will kill you."

Asked how she felt about the the possibility that he could be released from prison later this year, Ruth said: "You can't keep people behind bars forever... but it was a year ago today that the judge said to him you are a danger to your wife and children... now how much of that has changed?

"But I would like to think and hope that he comes out a better person."

Asked how she got help, Ruth said: "This can happen to anybody, absolutely anybody.

"I knew I had to get out because the decision was almost taken away from me... it was live or die.

"But for so many people, getting out is the hardest thing to do. You know, I had no money, I hadn't told anybody so who was I suddenly going to ask? Where was I going to go? Packing a bag and disappearing with two teenage kids is easier said than done.

"But my advice to anybody watching this, man or woman, it doesn't matter who you are, if you know deep down or you recognise the signs in someone that you know, it's the hardest thing in the world to ask for help but oh my gosh, if I hadn't done that I'd be dead."

Ruth said she was sharing her story and using her platform to help others who may be in a similar situation.

"I find myself now in a position where I'm able to speak up, maybe for people who can't speak up, or who haven't got that voice.

"It's all very well asking people to speak up and come forward but they have got to feel that they are going to be believed, so this goes further than just me... the authorities and the police need better training and they've admitted, look, we need you to help us so that we can make it better for the next person, and that's absolutely what this is all about."

"It doesn't ever go away", Ruth added. "But I just want to say that life can be really good, and I've got a life now."

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