An ITV Wales presenter harassed and stalked by her husband for years said it was the “best thing” her story went public as it gave her a platform to help others speak out.
Ruth Dodsworth’s husband Jonathan Wignall, 54, was last week sentenced to three years for coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking.
She described the abuse, which included putting a tracker on her car, as “degrading and dehumanising”.
She said speaking out saved her life.
On ITV’s This Morning, weather presenter Ms Dodsworth said her story becoming public was “something I never saw coming” as the details of her case and victim statement came out as her husband was sentenced.
“In a sense it has been the hardest time but – because that decision to go public was always taken away from me – it’s been the best thing in hindsight that has ever happened,” she said.
Ms Dodsworth suffered both physical and mental abuse from her husband of 18 years, including fracturing her rib, paying her children to look on her phone and showing up at her workplace, which she said escalated when his nightclub business failed.
She said at the peak of the abuse her children called her and said, “Mum, don’t come home – he is going to kill you”, which she said 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,” she said.
“I was married to this man for 18 years and I think sometimes, within a marriage, at first you try to make it work, you think, ‘OK, that’s happened’ and try to move on. And you make excuses to try to reason, you try to justify, you plaster this smile on your face.”
She added her job made it harder to speak out because “there is this expectation that you smile and you’re happy and sometimes that couldn’t have been further from the truth”.
She said it also “made me more determined to make it work”.
Last month Wignall pleaded guilty to one count of coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking.
As well as his three-year jail sentence he was also given a restraining order against contacting Ms Dodsworth.
Cardiff Crown Court was told Wignall had a “fragile ego” and repeatedly accused Ms Dodsworth, 45, of being unfaithful.
Ms Dodsworth said it was still hard for her to categorise her abuse, adding it had been hard to see the isolation while she was still in it.
She said: “The very phrase – ‘domestic abuse’, ‘coercive control’ – I find quite difficult to say because for a long time I didn’t recognise it or put it in that category.
“Looking back on it now I can see that the signs were there [in the beginning]. We were happy but there were moments where his temper became obvious at first towards other people but when you’re with someone you love you take things out on your nearest and dearest.
“I was the one person he could direct it at and looking back in horror now I can see the signs but you almost don’t want to admit it to yourself. I think that, in a sense, has been quite a difficult thing even for me to do now.
“It took confiding in someone else for them to say, ‘Ruth, if you don’t phone the police I will’ and that really changed everything.”
She said the abuse she suffered “was degrading, dehumanising and it is so very difficult to ask for help” but she wished she had done it sooner and that she “would not be alive if I had not asked for help”.
“My case is just once of so many and I am so lucky to have been given this platform and to use this public arena.
“Not being believed is something I really did fear but I was believed – and I would say to anyone that you will too.”