ITV presenter reveals nine-year coercive control ordeal

ITV weather presenter Ruth Dodsworth has opened up about the coercive control she endured at the hands of her ex-husband.

The broadcaster will share her experience of being in an abusive marriage in a new documentary, Controlled By My Partner? The Hidden Abuse, which airs on Thursday.

Coercive control is behaviour by which a perpetrator makes a person dependent on them by isolating them from family and friends, controlling their everyday behaviour and depriving them of independence.

Nightclub owner Jonathon Wignall was sentenced to three years in prison in April 2021 after subjecting Dodson to nine years of abuse.

In the documentary, Dodsworth is set to discuss the nature of coercive control and how it took her years to recognise that she was being abused.

She shares how her children’s fears for her safety made her realise Wignall’s behaviour was abusive.

“I had no idea that the threats and manipulation my ex-husband used for almost a decade were actually a pattern of criminal behaviour,” Dodsworth said.

“He would call me dozens of times a day, wanting to know where I was and who I was with. He would check my phone and even delete contacts from it.

“He would turn up at my workplace, or insist that I leave the studio to eat lunch with him in his car.”

“It wasn’t until my own children began to fear for my safety that I realised what was going on wasn’t normal.”

Wignall was arrested in October 2019 after Dodsworth reported his behaviour to the police. He later pleaded guilty to stalking and coercive control.

“My ex-husband was jailed for just three years and nine months, but could be released later this year after serving less than half of his sentence – I can’t pretend I’m not scared, but I am trying to stay positive,” Dodsworth said.

The broadcaster’s daughter Grace, 18, also features in the documentary, telling viewers: “This was our reality, this was our lives, it was normal for us. And then all of a sudden we’re having all these professionals telling us that’s not right, and everything we’ve known is pretty much gone.”

During a hearing last year, a Cardiff Crown Court was told Wignall had used Dodsworth’s fingerprints to access her phone while she was asleep, refused to let her go places without him and fitted a tracking device to her car.

Appearing via video link, Dodsworth told the court she had been left with “heavy debts” after discovering that Wignall had borrowed money under their name.

“Because of my television career I’ve had to try and portray a smiley, happy, sunshine-like personality every day, when how I felt was everything but,” she said.

The couple met in 2001, the year Dodsworth joined ITV, and married in 2002.

The court heard that Wignall’s behaviour became controlling around 2010 after the couple moved from Swansea to Cowbridge. Around this time, Wignall’s nightclub business began to fail and Dodsworth became the main breadwinner of the family.

“The shift in the dynamic of the home was not an easy one for the defendant to take,” prosecutor Claire Pickthall told the court.


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