Oh. My God. After watching this documentary, I went upstairs to cover my 9-year-old daughter with kisses. I could still see the image of Ashley lying on the floor in my mind and the thought of, that could have been me running through my mind.
It was difficult to watch because it was so true. This is real life for many victims of domestic abuse. It tells society how domestic abuse really is and why it’s not so easy to “just leave”.
Watching, I could relate to so much, especially when Reece the perpetrator kept harassing her with the calls and constantly going to the house, saying the things she wanted to hear, the lies to lure her back to him.
He physically, psychologically, sexually and financially abused her. He victimblamed her, he verbally abused her, he manipulated her, he controlled her, he made her feel like nothing; all the characteristics of a perpetrator but to the outside world, he seemed like the caring partner. He seemed to be a good dad, but all he was doing was using her to get maintain that control. He stalked her knowing where she had been when they were on a break, he made her feel guilty when she phoned the Police.
He was flattering, charming and tried to impress her by talking about what he wanted to do with his life – become a Property Developer.
Just a few days after meeting, Ashley was saying, he was different, talking about his eyes when he looked at her, how he “really got her”, how he was a gentleman and she was happy.
In the club Reece offered to buy Ashley’s friends and drink, he was a complete charmer.
He pulled up Ashley’s strap as it had fallen down and she thanked him for that.
Reece told her how had seen her before, in the clothes shop and thought how she was beautiful.
He is being the charming partner, until he picked up Ashley’s phone and says, you’ve got a text. Laughing and trying to make light of the fact that she has just received a text message, he says come on I need to see who my competition is. Whose Mick, straightaway thinking it’s a guy. Ashley doesn’t like the fact he looked at her text message and laughs as she reveals Mick is Michaela. Reece covers his jealousness by saying, I was only playing, I do trust you and I don’t want to lose you.
Ashley’s body language tells you how smitten she is with Reece.
Just three months into the relationship, Ashley finds out she is pregnant, saying over how she is only 17. She wants to talk about the issue, but Reece says all the things she wants to hear, I’ll love after the baby whilst you are at college I’ll look after you and I’ll never leave you.
We do see how Reece babysits their daughter whilst Ashley goes out, but there are consequences.
The conversation between Ashley and her mum is a common one with mum saying, you don’t even know him and think about your options.
Reece is already out buying baby clothes yet 6 months down the line he’s not ready for that committment and won’t live together because of his dogs – my dogs are my dogs.
We see Ashley physically abused for the first time when she is pregnant yet the coercive control has always been there. Ashley is frightened, scared and shocked as Reece physically abuses her. Straightaway, Reece is full of remorse, sorry and he will never do it again. Ashley leaves. But as she walks down the street, thoughts running through her head, she goes back to Reece, saying, I couldn’t leave for a single moment, he loves me, the father of my child who is crying like a boy in front of me.
Reece knows that getting Ashley pregnant and getting her to keep the baby, that will be the hold he has over her to go back; using his own daughter as a weapon.
Three years into the relationship and the coercive control is still there. Reece is talking to his daughter, laughing, saying is that what mommy is wearing. She’s going out with friends. She goes into the bedroom to change. Bruises on her back. We hear her ask for her own purse whilst Reece is looking through receipts and questioning her every movement and purchase. He gives her some money, saying, you can pay me back on Friday obviously financially abusing her too.
Whilst Ashley is out, Reece is constantly monitoring her movements by logging onto her Facebook account, which he obviously has the password too. Talking to his daughter, saying let’s see what’s happening and, we’ll get her back. Ashley is out with her friends and Reece keeps on calling her.
When Ashley gets home, he says you had a late night, you can see so much fear over Ashley’s face, thinking he is going to hurt her but he just kisses her. Confusing behaviour.
3 years and 3 months, Ashley is telling us, there were good times too but I had to feel what he wanted to feel and, I could only be happy when he was.
Reece buys her a phone but it’s only to control her: send me a photo, I wanna see where you are, tell me what you are doing, why did you turn it off, who are you with, you think I’m being ridiculous.
Ashley’s neighbour phones the Police. Ashley lies to protect him. The female Police Officer tries to coax Ashley to tell the truth, but she doesn’t, Reece is listening the whole time.
It was never his fault, it’s me, I provoked/hurt/pushed him to the limit. I believe him.
Friends telling her she’s got to leave him, saying, if he did that to someone in the street, he would go to jail. Ashley is making excuses up for him and blaming herself, saying she winds him up.
In the kitchen, Reece has left his phone on the work surface, knowing Ashley is preparing the evening meal when he gets a text message.
Whose Kim? Does it matter? Why are you fucking her? You’re sick, you know that, I do everything for you!
Reece asks, do I give you money? I buy you thinks, I drive you round like a Princess and you accuse me, how do you think that makes me fee, why are you dong this to me? Is it about your weight, is it making you feel insecure because if it is, it’s time you did something about it.
Ashley went to see the said Kim, but didn’t speak, just to see who it was. Reece went to the shop where Ashley was, head butted her, dragged her into the changing room, repeatedly punching her saying, I told you to stay out of my business, you phone the Police, you are fucking dead.
She had left him.
Please don’t take him back this time Ash, he won’t change.
3 years and 8 months down the line and he is still controlling her. I just want to talk, I miss you, it’s been ages, I just want to spend the night with Jazz, she needs her dad too.
He phoned the store, he phoned her mobile, he phoned her landline, he banged on the front door calling through the letterbox how he just wanted to talk, shouting to Jazz how he wanted to see her. You called the Police, you bitch.
Her friends try to get her to be with someone else. You know I like ya but Reece won’t let this happen. It’s my life, it’s not up to him.
Reece goes round to the house saying how he had brought Jazz some £60 trainers, open the door, I’ve got something to tell you, I start an anger management course.
Have you met someone else, please baby I just want to talk to you, I’m never going to let you go, we belong together, open the door, please I didn’t mean to shout, I don’t wanna keep doing this Ash, come on open the door please.
Ashley says, how many times can I call the Police. He has destroyed the last thing I held onto, hope, without home there is nothing. He has made me into nothing.
You’ll never find this with anyone else, he tells her.
Lets start afresh.
What about when you were in Leicester?
Why would I want anyone else when I’ve got you.
When Reece comes back from a night out, he’s intoxicated. Baby you awake, baby you awake, I just wanna know his name, did you talk to him first, what did he say, what did you say, did he touch you, did you fuck him, tell me the truth.
He killed her through his own insecurities. A beautiful young woman with a beautiful young daughter who had the rest of her life to live. Dead.
This documentary highlight just how serious domestic abuse is and should be shown in sex education classes because this is the reality of this crime. This is why awareness is vitally important. Young people need to be aware of the early warning signs and what the difference between control and care is because it could cost them their life.
It was difficult and uncomfortable viewing but one with an important message that society should understand, it’s not just that easy to live, you don’t just leave the first time you are hit and how the perpetrator always has power and control.