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Wales Online
Wales Online
Cathy Owen

Ruth Dodsworth reveals new marriage to husband who helped 'save her life'

Television presenter Ruth Dodsworth has shared the happy news that she has remarried and is learning to love life again after spending years in a "living hell" being controlled by her ex-husband.

The ITV weather presenter appeared on ITV's Lorraine on Monday to talk about coercive control as part of her campaign to help urge others who find themselves in a position similar to hers, urging victims to "make that call".

She told the presenter that the wedding had been kept quiet because she didn't know how people would react, but wanted to share her story that life can be good again and credited her new husband with saving her life.

In April, Cardiff Crown Court heard Jonathan Wignall, 54, made Ms Dodsworth's life a living hell after controlling every aspect of her life.

The disgraced nightclub boss would frequently attend the studios where she was filming and on location, access her phone messages and mail, stop her from seeing friends and family and even had a tracker fitted to her car. It only came to an end one day when her children phoned warning her not to come home because he was going to kill her.

Jonathan Wignall, 54, was jailed for controlling and coercive behaviour towards his ex wife (South Wales Police)

Her husband of 18 years had called her more than 150 times during that day and Ms Dodsworth turned to a friend who urged her to get the police involved.

The full extent of her pain then came to light in a distressing and moving victim impact statement, that was read aloud at Cardiff Crown Court before Wignall was handed a jail term.

On Monday, Ms Dodsworth described herself as "one of the lucky ones" and spoke about how she has been trying to help other victims.

She has been working with the police since her husband's trial in a bid to help officers recognise the signs, and pleaded with people to speak out if they were the victims of coercion.

"At the start of the relationship, the attention was quite flattering, but then years down the line you realise you haven't seen your friends, your family, life is very, very different," she told the presenter. "I am a relatively intelligent person, and I didn't really see it until nearly 20 years later when my ex-husband was arrested.

"It took the police telling me and showing me that signs, that I realised he ticked all the boxes. Hindsight is an amazing thing, but it happened almost by stealth.

"My self esteem was at rock bottom for a long, long time at home. I used to cry going into work, cry in the dressing room but then switched into work mode, and then cry on the way home knowing I was going home to it, but I did it because I had to.

"I became a possession, and it was dehumanising and degrading. Even in court there was no remorse, no understanding."

Ruth talking to Lorraine (ITV)

Coercive control has been criminal offence since 2015 in Wales, but Ms Dodsworth says "things need to change" pointing out that the North Wales Police force has had 842 reported cases this year, but only eight have come to charge stage.

"It is so important for us to talk about it," she says. "I am here to say if anyone recognises themselves being in Things need to change. We need to recognise it in ourselves, and I am working with the police to help them recognise the signs too. It is so important that we talk about it."

Speaking about her new husband, Ms Dodsworth said: "I am one of the lucky ones. He has been incredible and it is a learning experience. I have had to relearn 'normal life'. I had to relearn that it was OK if my friend rang, it is OK if I need to go somewhere for work. I can do these things, and he can trust me.

"I am lucky that I have family and friends around me. It doesn't end just because you get that conviction. He (Wignell) will get out, but that is something we are going to have to deal with.

"But you can have a life. Everyone is entitled to have a happy life.

"The hardest thing in the world is to make that call, to make that change. It has not been easy. It has been horrifying, it has been 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.

"We got married this year. We kept it quiet because you never know how people are going to react, but he absolutely saved my life, and my family and children adore him."

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