Pick Me Up! - - TER­RI­FY­ING -

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?

Hor­ri­ble texts...

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