ITV weather presenter Ruth Dodsworth has revealed how her controlling husband would slap her across the face if she fell asleep before him as she admitted she ‘wouldn’t be alive today’ had she not eventually asked for help.
Ms Dodsworth, 45, appeared on This Morning earlier today to encourage other domestic abuse sufferers to speak out.
She said that her now ex-husband, of 18 years, Jonathan Wignall left her with nothing after the nine-year campaign of abuse which she branded as ‘degrading’ and ‘isolating’.
Former nightclub owner Wignall, 54, pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to coercive behaviour and stalking earlier this month.
He was sentenced to a total of three years in custody, of which he will serve half before being released on licence, and was also issued with a restraining order against contacting Ms Dodsworth.
Ruth Dodsworth, 45, appeared on This Morning earlier today to encourage other domestic abuse sufferers to seek help
Speaking to hosts Phillip Schofield and Rochelle Humes, Ms Dodsworth said: ‘At its worst, just under two years ago, when things escalated, I’d been in work and during that week he had been phoning me hundreds and hundreds of times a day, turning up at the office, texting me “where are you”, asking who I was with.
‘That particular day he started drinking early in the day and by the time my children got home from school they were phoning me saying “mum, don’t come home, he’s going to kill you” and I think, for me, that was a turning point.
‘I didn’t go home that night because I think if I had, I wouldn’t be here now in any way, shape or form.
‘It took confiding in someone else for them to say “Ruth, if you don’t ring the police I will” – and that really changed everything.’
Ms Dodsworth explained: ‘If I waited for him to go to sleep first, it was okay. 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…
‘You don’t realise that isolation until you look back on it. His paranoia, his jealousy – I work in a very public job, I meet a lot of people and he couldn’t handle that.
‘Every male I met was a potential affair and that jealousy escalated to the point where he offered to pay my children money to go into my phone.’
‘I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t ask for help.’
She said that her husband of 18 years Jonathan Wignall (pictured together previously) left her with nothing after the nine-year campaign of abuse which she branded as ‘degrading’ and ‘isolating’
The presenter also added that she had desperately tried to make the relationship work: ‘I was married to this man for 18 years, and I think sometimes 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.
‘The signs were there, we were happy but there were moments where his temper became obvious,’ she said.
‘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.’
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.
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.’
Earlier this month, Cardiff Crown Court heard the couple met in 2001, a year after Ms Dodsworth started her weather job, and were married in 2002.
But Wignall’s controlling behaviour began around 2010 when the couple moved from Swansea to Cowbridge and she became their main breadwinner when his nightclub business started to fail.
The court heard that far from rejoicing in his wife’s TV success, he was an obsessive partner who would set an alarm to check Ruth’s nightly forecasts on TV and call her dozens of times a day demanding to know where she was and who she was with.
He would turn up to her outside broadcast locations or insist that she ate her lunch in the car with him, rather than at a studio canteen which had a ‘devastating impact’ on Ms Dodsworth and her confidence.
In a statement read out to the court Ms Dodsworth said she would have to portray a ‘happy, sunshine-like’ personality while on television even though she felt the opposite inside.
At home, he would demand access to her phone so he could check her messages and delete contacts he didn’t like.
The presenter also added that she had worked for ITV for 25 years and, apart from her pension, she had ‘nothing to show for it’
Wignall pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to coercive behaviour and stalking. He was sentenced to three years in prison this week for a campaign of abuse
He would insist on watching her use the toilet and shower in case she was using her phone in the bathroom and accompany her to medical appointments. He even placed a tracking device under the steering wheel of her car.
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 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.’
He told Wignall he posed ‘high risk’ to his ex-wife and imposed an indefinite restraining order, meaning that when he is freed he will be banned from going near her.
Wignall pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to coercive behaviour and stalking.
He was sentenced to three years in prison this week for a campaign of abuse.
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