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He loves me, he loves me not...

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He loves me, he loves me not...

(A modern fairytale, or is it?)

* N.B. The characters described in this story are fictitious.

Sally* and David* met online, after David had sent her a friend request on Facebook, thinking she looked attractive.  Sally realised they had several friends in common and accepted the request.  The couple started talking via social media, subsequently exchanged telephone numbers and, after speaking on various occasions, decided to meet face to face.

The couple initially met for a few drinks and got on very well with each other.  They shared the same taste in music and films and also had other interests in common, including a passion for sport and keeping fit.

A relationship commenced between the parties, which progressed extremely well.  David was often complimentary regarding outfits Sally would wear on their dates, although, at the same time, he did not hold back in telling Sally if she wore something he did not like.

Very soon, David was inviting Sally to meet up with him virtually every day after work and, indeed, most days he would even collect her from the office in the city centre.  Other than being flattered by this, Sally did not think anything of it.

After a few months David asked Sally to move into his property.  He expressed his undying love for her and said that, apart from them going to work, he could not bear to be apart from her.  Sally was over the moon.  She had been caught up in the “big romance” that was happening with David and accepted his invitation for her to live with him.

Even after they had started cohabiting, Sally still considered David to be the love of her life and was caught up in the “honeymoon period”.  David continued to collect Sally from work, although this was now on a daily basis, and would then whisk her home and cook wonderful meals for her.

Cracks started to appear within the relationship, although Sally was not really alert to these. 

Prior to Sally and David meeting, Sally had been in the habit of meeting up with her best friends every Friday and going for a few drinks in town.  Also, every Sunday, she had gone over to her parents’ home, together with her siblings, and they had, for many years, enjoyed having Sunday lunch together.

Following the start of the relationship, Sally tried to include David in her usual weekly routines, by inviting him out on Friday nights with her and her friends and also to her parents’ house on Sundays.  David never accepted any of these invitations and was always totally opposed to accompanying Sally on any outing/to any event where people would be present who had known Sally before he had.

Whilst David did not outright object to Sally spending time with family and friends, if she accepted invitations and went anywhere without him he would constantly be calling and texting her to find out where she was and what time she was likely to get home.  On occasions, he would insist on coming to pick her up at a certain time, which was often sooner than she would otherwise have left.  David would tell Sally that he had been lonely at home without her and could not wait for her to be with him again.  All of this time, Sally was overwhelmed by the amount of love that David kept expressing he had for her.

David started to complain if Sally wanted to spend any time with anyone other than him, including her family and existing circle of friends, stating that they should spend all their time together because they loved each other. He told Sally that she did not need anyone else in her life because she now had him.  Sally took this as a further indication of David’s love for her and stopped accepting invitations from friends to go out, or even going to her parents’ house every Sunday and, instead, just spent all of her time in David’s company.

David also, at times, became irritable if Sally received phone calls and text messages from family and friends in the evenings, at times when they were together.  David’s reasoning for this was that it if Sally was distracted by such calls and messages this would eat into the quality time that they spent together after work.

A short while later David suggested that both he and Sally should take themselves of Facebook and other social media platforms as they had now found each other and did not need to meet anyone else in such a way.  Sally was agreeable to this and thought it a very sensible idea.

In the spirit of openness between the couple, David suggested that they should both have full access to each other’s mobile phones, including any messages and call logs.  Sally was agreeable as she was so totally in love with David and, in any event, took the view that she had nothing to hide from him.

Over a period of time, David started to become critical of Sally, regarding what she wore and also in respect of her figure.  David’s criticism could sometimes be quite nasty, with him telling Sally that she could not go out wearing a particular outfit because she looked ridiculous in it.  In addition, David commented on the fact that Sally was not as thin and attractive as she had been when they first met.  Sally was the first person to accept that she had put some weight on, caused partly due to the fact that David had continued to cook her the most sumptuous dinners each evening and he would also often insist that she had seconds.

Sally started to become quite depressed about the situation, the reality of which was that, whilst she had continued to be in a relationship with David, she had become isolated from virtually all of her friends and family; David knew and frequently complained when anyone other than he contacted her via her mobile phone; David regularly made demeaning comments towards her regarding her weight and her dress sense.

Despite all of this, Sally still loved David desperately and, therefore, resolved to do something about her weight and only wear clothes that David approved of.  Sally thought it was lovely that David cared about her so much that he would let her know if anything she was wearing did not really suit her.

Sally’s family and friends started to notice and became concerned that she was becoming isolated from them.  Various members of her family and some of her friends tried, in a kindly way, to point this out to her and express their concerns.  Sally was having none of it, became very defensive, got cross with them and explained it was clear that they were unable to see how happy she was in her relationship with David and that they must be jealous.

David started questioning Sally thoroughly each day when he picked her up from work, regarding who she had spoken to and spent time with during the day.  If Sally referred to any males at work, David would then spend the next 20 minutes or so, telling Sally that she must fancy them, because she had mentioned their names.  Sally got herself into such a state regarding what David was saying that she started to become extremely withdrawn.  Prior to the relationship, Sally had always had a very bubbly and outgoing personality.  Work colleagues started to notice a difference in Sally, but she was not prepared to speak with anyone about the problems at home as she was worried David would find out and consider this a betrayal.

One evening, whilst the couple were at home, after they had had dinner, David checked Sally’s mobile phone, as he was now in the habit of doing regularly.  He became very angry with Sally because he could see a message on her phone from her boss, who happened to be male, requesting a meeting with her.  David’s jealousy spiralled totally out of control.  He shouted at Sally, alleging she must be having an affair with her boss and lashed out at her, causing her to fall and bang her face against the fire place.  Sally sustained a black eye as a result of this incident.  David was immediately very apologetic, promising Sally this would not happen again.  The next day when David collected Sally from work he had a big bunch of flowers with him by way of apology.  Sally was reassured by this and merely saw it as a sign of David’s regret and the fact that he loved her.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, David’s possessive, controlling behaviour towards Sally, combined with violent episodes worsened.  Sally had to resort to constantly wearing long sleeved tops and dresses to work and making sure her legs were always covered to cover up the bruises David was inflicting on her.  Each time David was violent towards her he would subsequently be full of apologies and buy Sally gifts in a further attempt to say sorry.

Matters reached such a stage that Sally was no longer able to keep going to work.  David was always paranoid that she was having affairs with people.  David reassured Sally that it would be better if she didn’t work anyway as she would have more time for herself and could content herself with housework.  Sally was not given freedom by David to go out and socialise with any friends or family members during this time.  Sally became pregnant in due course and David told her it only confirmed his view that it was better she did not work at the moment as it would mean she could look after herself and the baby.  Even though Sally was no longer working, David still continued to be paranoid about what she was up to, constantly telephoning her during the day to check that she was at home and not on the phone to anyone else.  Sometimes, David did not believe the responses she provided, which would, again, result in her getting a beating, even though she was pregnant.

One night, after a particularly vicious beating, the Police arrived at the door to Sally and David’s home.  They had been called by a neighbour.  David made Sally tell them that everything was okay and that the reason her face was bruised was merely because she had stumbled and fallen against a door.  The Police were satisfied with this answer and went away without taking any further action.  Sally was devastated.  She felt really isolated and as if there was no one at all in the world she could speak with.

The next night David returned home from work in a really angry mood and blamed Sally for making too much noise the previous night, resulting in the Police being called.  David started punching Sally and grabbed her around the neck.  He started to strangle her and, even though she was choking and gasping for air, he would not let her go.  Suddenly, Sally’s body became lifeless.  David let go and did all that he could to revive her, but it was too late.  Sally was dead.

Sadly, the story above is all too common.  On 13th September 2019 it was reported by the BBC that “The number of people killed as a result of domestic abuse in the UK is at its highest level in five years”.

It is fully appreciated by staff at Emery Johnson Astills that both women and men can be subjected to domestic abuse and the above story is just an example of the types of cases that we deal with.

If you have made a recent report to the Police that you have been subjected to domestic abuse and you do not feel your complaint is being properly handled, do not hesitate to contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) at Emery Johnson Astills, either by phoning 0116 255 4855, or by emailing DVAD@johnsonastills.com for advice as to what action it may be possible to take in the Family Courts to secure Orders to protect yourself.

A specially trained member of staff in the DVAD of Emery Johnson Astills will be able to provide advice as to what measures you can take to protect yourself and/or your children and also whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.