TV weather presenter Ruth Dodsworth has said she is ‘re-learning how to live’ following her ex-husband’s nine-year campaign of controlling behaviour, harassment and stalking against her during their marriage.
Ms Dodsworth, 45, a familiar face for viewers of ITV Wales, revealed she is now dating a new man and is relishing being able to wear what she wants and not hide her phone or say where she is all the time.
Her ex-husband of 18-years, former nightclub owner Jonathan Wignall, 54, pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to coercive behaviour and stalking in April.
He was sentenced to a total of three years in custody, of which he will serve half before being released on licence. He was also issued with a restraining order against contacting Ms Dodsworth.
Speaking to Wales Online, Ms Dodsworth said: ‘I am healing, I am having to re-learn living. Practical things like wearing what I want. That might sound so trivial to everyone else, but for so long I haven’t been able to make those decisions.’
TV weather presenter Ruth Dodsworth (pictured) has said she is ‘re-learning how to live’ following her ex-husband’s nine-year campaign of controlling behaviour, harassment and stalking against her during their marriage
She added: ‘Re-learning how to have a relationship with another man has just been the loveliest thing, but I have had to re-learn behaviours.
‘I don’t have to hide my phone. I don’t have to say where I am every single minute of every day. These are the things I am having to re-learn, but I am doing it.’
After being overwhelmed with positive responses, the presenter admitted that she didn’t really want the story out there at first but now says it ‘was the best thing that ever happened’ to her.
She said she was contacted by ‘thousands’ of men and women who had also been in abusive relationships.
‘It is horrifying and it is humbling and it is the biggest thing I have been involved in. I just so want one person to hear this and think that if she can do it so can I,’ she said.
Ms Dodsworth (pictured with her ex-husband), 45, a familiar face for viewers of ITV Wales, revealed she is now dating a new man and is relishing being able to wear what she wants and not hide her phone or say where she is all the time
Speaking of her children, who she said grew up watching what their father was doing to her, she said they were strong and were healing from the ordeal.
Ruth admitted she feared she’d go back to worrying when Wignall is released from prison, because her ex-husband blamed her for his jail sentence and had never taken responsibility for the abuse.
The presenter said she was taking life one day at a time and that she was now happy and so were her children.
In April, 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.
The presenter’s ex-husband of 18-years (pictured right), former nightclub owner Jonathan Wignall, 54, pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to coercive behaviour and stalking in April. Pictured left, Ms Dodsworth presenting the weather
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.
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.
After sentencing, Ms Dodsworth appeared on This Morning to encourage other domestic abuse sufferers to speak out.
She revealed how her controlling ex-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.
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.
Wignall (pictured with the presenter) was sentenced to a total of three years in custody, of which he will serve half before being released on licence. He was also issued with a restraining order against contacting Ms Dodsworth
‘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.’