A young woman woke up while being strangled by her violent and controlling ex-partner – who then tried to claim she was imagining it.
The harrowing incident was one of a string of attacks at the hands of 32-year-old Ross Patrick, who also secretly filmed the victim and monitored her phone and social media accounts over almost a year.
His victim has spoken out about her ordeal as part of Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, and is urging others not to suffer in silence.
Patrick, of College Street, East Bridgford, is now serving a 12-month prison sentence after pleading guilty of controlling and coercive behaviour.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, said Patrick had swept her off her feet by being kind and attentive when their relationship started in June 2018, and there were no warning signs of what was to come.
She said: “When we first got together it was amazing. He could not do enough for me. He was so complimentary and I remember thinking how nice it was to have someone looking after me.
“Things changed after a few weeks. We would argue and he’d be aggressive, throwing glass against the wall and he insisted on going through my phone. Each argument would be followed by a sincere apology and promises of change and when he apologised, I believed him.”
Patrick became increasingly jealous, accusing the victim of cheating. He would often hack into the victim’s social media accounts and phone and message her contacts pretending to be her, sending personal photographs and suggestive messages in a bid to cause an argument.
Patrick also harassed her, by sending constant messages and would often show up unexpectedly and tell her she is being watched by others. Unbeknown to the victim, Patrick installed an app on her phone enabling him to read and control all her messages and track her location via his own phone.
The victim recalls making a scrap book on her bed and receiving a text from Patrick, who was working abroad, asking who the scrap book was for. She then realised cameras had been installed in the house without her knowing.
She said: “He admitted he had installed the cameras and it left me feeling unable to relax as I knew I was being watched. I didn’t remove the cameras, determined to prove I was not being unfaithful, hoping his behaviour would change, but it didn’t.”
Things took a disturbing turn when the victim woke one night being strangled by Patrick. Distressed and confused, Patrick convinced her she was imagining it and should go back to sleep. This type of incident is known as ‘gaslighting’, when a person makes a victim question their reality in order to gain control over them.
Nottinghamshire Police was called following an incident on 15 August 2019 when, during an argument, Patrick pinned the victim against the wall and threatened to throw her through the window.
She attempted to leave the house but Patrick chased her down the street, viciously assaulted her and bit her nose. After she called out for help the perpetrator ran back into the house, and the victim sought help from neighbours.
The attack left the victim with multiple injuries, which made her realise it was time to contact the Police. The victim stayed with family for her own safety.
In the days between the assault and Patrick’s arrest, he continued to harass her and attempted to hack and track her phone. Patrick was arrested charged with coercive and controlling behaviour.
Patrick, pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour and jailed for 12 months at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this year. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
He was also given a lifetime restraining order preventing him from meeting or contacting her.
The victim said: “I cannot thank Nottinghamshire Police enough for their help. In situations like this you always feel that you’re never going to be believed and they’ve been working on the case for a year and I finally have justice.
“My abuser told me if I called the police, they wouldn’t believe me and I believed him. I want other victims to know, you will be believed, you will be respected and you will get justice.
“If sharing my story can help one person leave an abusive relationship, I’m happy. I also want to mention Women’s Aid who helped me after I left this relationship.
“They accompanied me to court, offered me support and educated me on abusive relationships. They helped me to understand that it wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t alone. I would encourage anyone who is concerned for a friend, family member or neighbour, to contact the Police or Women’s Aid and report this as soon as possible.”
Detective Sergeant Sarah Jackson, of Nottinghamshire Police said: “It was extremely brave for the victim to speak out about her experience at the hands of this man and I am pleased he has been jailed for his actions, which were unacceptable.
“We worked hard to ensure that we could piece all the evidence together to build a strong case against Patrick and it has certainly paid off.
“I want to remind those who feel they are in this situation to speak out. We are here to help you and will stand by you every step of the way. This woman’s ordeal has horrendous and she has shown her bravery throughout this investigation which has led to Patrick being jailed. Coercive and controlling behaviour is never ok and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“All too often people remain quiet but I want to encourage you to speak out. We are here for you, and you are not alone.”
Across the UK, more than 100,000 people are at risk of being seriously harmed or murdered by their partner.
The current coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in the number of people suffering at the hands of their abusers and closed down routes to safety for people to escape.
Anyone suffering is asked to contact 999 if they are I an emergency. You can contact Women’s aid via their website at https://www.womensaid.org.uk , The National Domestic Abuse Helpline on, 0808 2000 247, Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or download the Bright Sky Domestic Abuse App which is available in 4 languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish. On the app you can record incidents of abuse via text, audio, video or photo form, without any of the content being saved on the device itself.
The following organisations offer support to survivors of domestic abuse within Nottinghamshire.
To report domestic abuse to Nottinghamshire Police, please call the 101 non-emergency number or, in an emergency, always call 999.
Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid provides an extensive range of services for women, young people and children.
Juno’s 24-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline offers support to women, teenage girls and children who have been affected by domestic or sexual abuse.
Available 365 days a year, the helpline can give support, help and information over the phone. Juno Women’s Aid also have a range of services to provide further one to one and group support.
Our helpline is staffed by fully-trained female support workers and volunteers and all calls are confidential and free to call from the UK. Translation facilities are available for callers whose first language is not English and we have a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The helpline is also there for family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
Tel: 0808 800 0340
Equation provide a free helpline for men which is available Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm.
A 24/7 confidential answerphone service is also available.
Call: 0115 960 5556