Hiding in plain sight
My man’s past held the clues to who he really was
Reading the name that’d just popped up in my Facebook inbox, I actually gasped. That’s a blast from the past,
I thought. It was an evening in March 2018, and I’d not given Richard Wilson a second thought in years!
We’d dated briefly 10 years earlier, before it’d fizzled out. How are you? Richard had asked.
A lot had happened since we’d last spoken.
I’d had five kids for a start! I was a single mum to Ella,16, Cobie, 14, Antonia, 10, Anya, 7, and Gino, 3. Long time, no speak, I typed back.
As the messages flew back and forth between us, I remembered what I’d liked about Richard, 31.
He was charming, funny, really easy to talk to.
A few weeks later, the kids stayed with my mum Janice, 46, while Richard came over to mine.
As we chatted, my nerves evaporated and it felt like old times.
Soon, we were an item again. We had a laugh together, going to reggae nights and bars.
He made an effort with my kids, too – trips to Legoland and to the cinema.
I fell for him even more. But, after a couple of months, I noticed a different side to Richard…
He began questioning me, monitoring my social media.
‘You had four more Facebook friends yesterday,’ he said one night.
He demanded to know who I’d deleted, what I was hiding.
As a hairdresser, I used Facebook to book clients, generate business and had over 2,000 friends. I didn’t keep track of them.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I said, trying to calm him down. But it made things worse. As time went on, Richard would be rude about my family and friends, until it became easier for me not to see them.
I cancelled plans, barely used social media. Better than another argument,
Yet it seemed nothing
I did was enough for him.
In February 2019, as we walked back from dropping my youngest at Mum’s, I sensed Richard bristling with anger.
Walking down the alley beside my house, he turned.
‘You’ve got a different WhatsApp picture,’ he said through gritted teeth.
‘I just fancied a change,’ I replied.
As I reached the front door, I was aware of Richard’s bubbling temper, my stomach in knots.
Then suddenly he punched me in the face, sending me sprawling to the ground.
As he started kicking me, I screamed. ‘Please stop!’ I begged. But he stamped on my head, his feet hitting my face.
Thankfully, a neighbour and my eldest daughter Ella heard my cries and swooped to my rescue.
Richard fled as we called the police, and an ambulance took me to Royal Oldham Hospital.
Seeing my bloodshot eye, and swollen and bruised face, I broke down.
I couldn’t even recognise myself.
Thankfully, I had no broken bones, so the doctors prescribed me painkillers and told me to rest.
Soon after, the police visited me.
They suggested I use Clare’s Law to find out about Richard’s history.
I could apply for information on any previous domestic-abuse offences he might have committed. ‘I don’t need to,’ I declared. I planned on pressing charges, and then never seeing him again.
But, before the officers could find him to arrest him, Richard was messaging me, begging for forgiveness. It’ll never happen again, he texted.
I still loved him – so I convinced myself that he was telling the truth. And I took him back. My family and friends were angry, and I didn’t contact the officers dealing with my case.
‘I’ll always stand by you,
He was charming, funny, really easy to talk to... I fell for him
but this is a big mistake,’ Mum warned me.
But I thought I knew best. Then, one evening in spring, as I got out of the shower, Richard burst into the bathroom.
Raging about Facebook – again.
‘You deleted some friends. You’re hiding something!’ he fumed.
Before I could reply, he grabbed me, punching and kicking.
The kids were at Mum’s, and I was alone as he threw me around the house.
Somehow, I ended up sprawled on Ella’s bedroom floor, naked and terrified. Then I watched Richard pick up a dumbbell weight and storm towards me. Lifting the weight over his head, he brought it crashing down on my leg. Screaming in pain, I could only lay helpless as the blows came thick and fast. I’m going to die here, I thought, terrified.
For the next two hours, Richard beat me to a pulp as I cowered.
At some point, I managed to pull on some underwear.
Finally, while Richard left the room for a couple of minutes,
I ran for it, dragging my left leg behind me.
Battered and wearing just my bra and knickers, I banged on a neighbour’s door.
She let me in, and called the police as Richard fled.
Back at the hospital, the doctors bandaged my head.
Luckily my leg wasn’t broken, but there was a huge bruise on my right thigh, and my arms were black and blue.
Soon after, Richard was arrested and officers visited me, handing me a pile of documents. While I’d taken him back, they’d been looking into Richard’s history. ‘We’ve uncovered these using Clare’s Law,’ one said to me. Flicking through, my jaw dropped. Richard Wilson had countless convictions of violence against women. He’d even served time for it. I’m such a fool, I thought.
I’d put myself in danger, introduced him into my kids’ lives. In August 2019, Richard Wilson,
32, appeared at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to two counts of actual bodily harm.
The court heard that he had 19 previous convictions – many of them for violence. He was jailed for two years and 9 months, will serve a further two on licence, and was handed an indefinite restraining order against me. It wasn’t enough. I was the third women he’d battered. ‘He’s a risk to women everywhere!’ I cried.
So now I’m sharing my story, to warn everyone about Richard Wilson and men like him.
If you have any suspicions about your partner, please contact the police.
Use Clare’s Law – don’t be blinded by love, like I was.
For the next two hours, Richard beat me to a pulp as I cowered
I was battered black and blue
There were two sides to Richard…
Sharing my story to help others