I was horrified when I opened the message on my phone
had put a strain on Christmas and New Year the year before.
I wasn’t going to let him ruin another one.
On Christmas Eve, I was enjoying a quiet drink with a female friend at my place.
We were having a peaceful evening, chatting about our plans for the next day, when my phone suddenly buzzed.
It was a message from Michael, he’d sent me a photo of his new girlfriend.
Look, she’s better than you, read the text.
I was hurt and stunned by his childishness.
Why would he send me a message like that? Is he trying to make me jealous?
I wasn’t – but I was annoyed. In a moment of rage, I sent back a snap of a bloke I’d dated.
He’s better than you!
I typed in retaliation.
Not the most mature response to his message, I know, but I was really angry and hurt.
I couldn’t help lashing out. Another text arrived quickly. You’re f *cking dead, Michael replied.
It was followed by a string of messages – saying that he was outside, in a black car, carrying a gun.
He even threatened to upload the video we’d made a year earlier to the Internet. But I didn’t believe him. ‘You should call the police,’ my friend suggested, concerned.
‘No, it’ll be fine,’
I replied, uneasy. Michael was all talk.
But the unpleasant messages continued late into the night.
And I did find myself peeking outside from behind the curtains before I went to bed, just in case he might’ve been there. I woke up late on Christmas morning, took my time in getting myself ready in my festive best, looking forward to a lovely, peaceful day with my family.
I’d had 18 months of high emotions with Michael, and I was determined to enjoy this Christmas.
Two of my sons – who both worked as chefs – were due to come over later in the afternoon. After getting the turkey in the oven,
I started peeling the sprouts at the kitchen sink. That’s when my phone buzzed again. I groaned when I saw Michael’s name, but was horrified when I opened the message. I’m actually going to kill you, so say bye to your kids, it said. The insults and threats kept coming, until I got a call from my brother. ‘Erm, Michael has sent me a video and pictures on Facebook,’ he said to me, sounding really awkward. I instantly knew it was our sex tape, and I felt sick. Sobbing uncontrollably, I felt totally humiliated.
I was afraid that if it got out, my business’ good reputation would suffer.
But more than anything, I was terrified…because Michael had actually acted on a threat.
He was still sending me awful, violent messages, as well as photos of shotgun cartridges and a hand gun.
I’m going to blow your head off! one of them read.
What if he means these threats as well? I thought.
Panicked, I dialled the emergency services.
‘My ex has threatened to kill me!’ I said.
Within minutes, my house was full of police, but I still didn’t feel safe.
My sons arrived to find police officers everywhere.
‘Mum, are you OK?!’ my boys asked, rushing through the door.
‘I’m OK,’ I wept, hugging them both tight.
I was told I couldn’t stay at home for my own safety.
But the police allowed us to have our makeshift dinner before we left – it was a rush, and we couldn’t enjoy it. The boys didn’t want to leave me alone, so I stayed at a friend’s house.
All I’d wanted was a nice, family Christmas but, instead, I’d been threatened and made a victim of revenge porn.
Michael handed himself in on New Year’s Day, and was charged with two threats to kill, and disclosing a private sexual film.
I still had some feelings for Michael, and did want to retract the statement.
I just wanted the phone to be destroyed and to put all of the bad stuff behind me. But the case went ahead. At Warwick Crown Court this February, Michael Nichols pleaded guilty to all charges.
He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for both threatening charges, and nine months concurrently for disclosing the film.
He also received a further four weeks imprisonment for breaching a suspended sentence order, and was issued a restraining order prohibiting contact with me for five years.
I didn’t go to court, because I just wanted peace, and to try to move on from the whole upset.
Now, I’m focusing on my family and my business.
And, this year, we will have the special Christmas that was taken from us last year.
The one we deserve.
Nichols: Would he act on his violent threats?