Sarah | Abused For Reporting Abuse

I married a police officer 15 years my senior at the age of 23. Psychological abuse was daily with being woken in the early hours with allegations of leaving doors unlocked or altering the heating. I had to reduce my hours at work to accommodate the grilling schedule I was provided which included daily gym attendance as I was ‘too fat’, cleaning and cooking. Hot meat dishes had to be out of the oven 20 minutes before the accompanying veg/ chips were ready as he would throw food across the room or scrape it in the bin if it were too hot and then cold salad would have to be warmed to room temperature for 20 minutes as it would be too cold otherwise. I was throttled, spat at, forced to walk around looking only at the floor unless he indicated I was ok to speak with his friends. Any deviation from this meant I was looking for another man and result in physical abuse. When out, I was forced to consume large amounts of alcohol as he would say it was evaporating leading many people to believe I had an alcohol problem as whenever anyone saw me out I was drunk.

2 years in to our marriage a police officer started attending my home stating that he had been asked by his Supervisors to check on my welfare. I met this with mixed feelings. I was desperate to be out of the situation but you do not get married to leave at the first hurdle and I thought this officer was going to help. My husband was placed in to counselling within the Police force and several months in he said very calmly ‘Counselling is going well and I have realised what my problem is. It’s the close relationship you have with my parents, I don’t like it’. The calmness in which it was said did not match the way I knew this was going to end and at this point I understand that my options were to either die as a result of staying in the relationship or die trying to leave. Months passed and every day there was a different reason to not leave.

The Police Officer whom had been asked to check on my welfare had now by this point started to text message me and turn up at my place of work and I was becoming increasingly frightened that my husband would become aware of this so as a way forward I had agreed to meet up at an unmanned police station twice a week. The conversations got to doing an escape plan. He told me that if I left my dog with my husband he would mistreat him and therefore Refuge was not the answer. He told me that staying with friends or family would place them as well as me at risk as he knew where they all lived. He then came up with a solution- I could move in with him and his fiancé until I found somewhere else to live. I knew his fiancé and she was pregnant so I was concerned about the risk to her but over time he reassured me that this was my only option and all would be ok, he had discussed it with his Supervisors and it was all agreed that this was the best way forward. The abuse was escalating with this police officer telling me that my husband was becoming more unstable in work and that he had conversations with him where my husband was telling him how I was annoying him. The physical abuse was now becoming daily. I was strangled, spat at, screamed at and this escalated to a point where he was smashing bottles of suncream over his own head and then threatening both me and himself with a fishing knife before driving us to the airport. This was triggered as I had left my phone in the house when taking our dog to the kennels. On that journey I was forced to say sorry or he would continue with his foot on the accelerator as he drove the car towards the edge of the severn bridge with the aim of driving us both into the water.

A few more months passed and I was in work and I had just had another call where my husband was screaming at me, this time it was over an order for vitamins that had not been posted. I collected my belongings and a small A4 box and walked out of work. I remember seeing a colleague and him asking where are you going and I replied I have had enough I am leaving him. I went home and he was sleeping in preparation for the night shift. I quietly packed some clothes got my dog and left. I contacted the police officer and he agreed for me to go straight there. I waited for him to go to work on his night shift and went back to my home to gather some more of my belongings before texting to say I am done and I have left and won’t be coming back. The following day I asked the police officer where his fiancé was and he stated they had split up. Looking back I should have left then but my thoughts were preoccupied elsewhere. He was telling me that he had been told in work that my husband was following me and was able to relay how many bags of shopping I was taking out of my car, when I had taken my dog to work with me. This went on for months and 3 months later I made a police statement.

The Officer in Charge of the case was a domestic violence officer and she listened to everything that had been happening, but incidents were ongoing. He was circling my place of work in police vehicles at a time he knows I would be due to finish work and the police officer I was staying with had been told that other officers, including his own supervisor saw the whole issue as a bit of a joke and were role playing my husband calling his [rank redacted for legal reasons] saying how he had pushed me down the stairs but it had gone a bit too far and I was unconscious with blood coming out of my ears. The Domestic Violence Officer had been told by her [rank redacted for legal reasons] to stop taking reports off me. She spoke with [redaction made for legal reasons] from the Public Protection Unit and told me to make a report to Professional Standards. My next phone call to the Domestic Violence Officer was – I have just been followed in my car by my husband in a police vehicle with other police Officers. I was frantic, and realising that not only had I just had to move away from family and friends but now I would have to find a new job as I just was not safe. There were three other officers in the vehicle that day with him. 2 lied to cover up for him and the other, a female officer came forward and supported what I had told the police. Nothing was ever done about the two officers that lied to cover up for him. I recall the PSD [rank redacted for legal reasons] saying to me why is the police officer telling you all of this information. At the time I responded saying- he is trying to keep me safe but now with knowing that he has denied ever saying this to me and went down the path that I was saying these things happened and he saw nothing I now believe that police [rank redacted for legal reasons] knew he had been lying to me. I have experienced PTSD that is so bad because I have been lied to and controlled so much that I could not understand what was real in my life anymore. This ‘welfare’ police officer told me not to go certain places due to imminent terrorist attacks, the ‘worst’ paedophile in the UK being housed in the area we live and the severe risk of being killed by a sharp shooter terrorist outside our home. Considering a South Wales Police Officer had said this you would think that South Wales Police would want to reassure me and give me back some of my life but no, they hide behind policies and procedures to protect their own again.

A relationship began between myself and the police officer I had moved in with. I had become unwell with a heart condition and I now believed he was the only person whom could keep me safe. Looking back I could scream at myself for being so stupid but it’s too late now. I write the rest on reflection as at the time I did not know the reality of what was happening to me but all I can say is if he told me to jump I would ask how high. We got married very quickly at his request using my failing health as the reason. I was coerced to believe that I was psychologically damaged as a result of the abuse and that any views I had that were different to that of these police officers were my irrational thoughts as a result of being a victim of domestic abuse and therefore I thought my fight and flight was over reactive. Basically I was being raped, financially, sexually, psychologically and emotionally abused. He brought colleagues home with him and I was subjected to degrading acts whilst being drugged. Every time it happened my now husband would be so nice that I started believing that I was dreaming what had happened as surely there would be some recognition or some change that I would see for validation. The more the rapes happened the more his behaviour to me deteriorated where I was now effectively his slave. I was having to take annual leave from work when our daughter was off school or unwell as his days off were not for looking after our daughter and he would literally get up early and go to the gym knowing full well that I was not able to walk out and leave a [child age redacted for legal reasons] on her own. The name calling was disgraceful with him actually calling me a lazy disgrace of a mother when the health visitor advised that he would need to go in and do a night feed when our daughter woke as she was struggling to come off being breast fed. At this point she had been breast fed for 8 months so he had not done one night feed since the day she was born. In fact, his 2 weeks paternity leave were taken two weeks before our daughter was born as she was late arriving and he returned to work the day after I came home having had a c-section. He never delayed it as he did not feel it was his job. He refused to put in extra finances to pay the bills despite my pay dropping to half pay but upgraded his cars every 6 months and paying £300-£400 in lap dance clubs. I had already paid off all of his debts but leaving me without any savings and then he tells everyone how he had all of this money coming from the sale of his last house and how he had to bail out his previous partner, this again was untrue as I have the solicitors letters. I had to pay off his car loan he took out under his partners name, ! had to pay off the £13,000.00 he had borrowed off his parents and yet he lied about it all and no one double checked and he was deemed mentally stable. What an absolute joke. He could not hold a conversation without lying making out he had done house renovations to colleagues when in fact they were already done when we purchased the house. [… redaction made for legal reasons]. We are supposed to be in the twentieth century but clearly when it comes to police they are allowed to be above the law.

The day we split my gut was screaming at me to disappear and go into refuge but against my better judgement I stayed at the marital home and changed the locks. He was still using the 4 CCTV cameras he installed around our home to monitor me and our daughter so I managed to change the passwords but he was not impressed at all. Within 4 weeks he was taking me to court for full custody of our daughter using my heart problem and claiming domestic abuse. He [redaction made for legal reasons] and relied on the poor communication between services to repeatedly lie and get away with it. His colleagues covered for him where I have CCTV that shows him at my home for over 30 minutes and yet his colleagues write, ‘he merely knocks on the door once and walks away’. They conveniently lost the CCTV but I had copies hidden everywhere. He has even had the gumption to call in to 101 prior to committing the offence and allege I would make false allegations regarding this abuse so when I initially called 999 after 20 minutes no response was afforded to me until the control room [rank redacted for legal reasons] called me back and heard him banging at the door. His mates/ colleagues called him to get off the street before they arrived. On another occasion he [redaction made for legal reasons]. That again is heavily disputed by the CCTV that again they claim cannot be found but fortunately I have a copy. I have never been believed about these incidents because no one ever wants to challenge the recordings of the police by viewing the CCTV. The abuse worsened and efforts to move 25 miles away were delayed after he took me to court and had me move back to [redaction made for legal reasons]. Worst of all him and South Wales Police are the reason my unborn baby died. He, to make out that I was insane alleged that I was not in heart failure and faking mine and my daughters health. I was not aware at the time that I was pregnant from one of the rapes. South Wales Police shared this information supporting the father during a child protection conference which in turn got passed to my new GP whom was still awaiting my records. I was then not believed to be physically unwell when attending my GP and left on heart failure medication for the condition he says I did not have. My baby did not just die I was advised that the pregnancy was too high risk due to the medication I had taken was going to have damaged his organs, the fact that the stress he was injecting in to my life daily would cause even more risks so I would have to take tablets to end my own baby’s life. He would be coming up [age redacted for legal reasons] this year and every day I live with the trauma of this. I was so ashamed that I did all of this in secret with no support and even today after a judge made it clear that this was not to be discussed outside of the court room he has taken it upon himself to tell anyone that will listen as to how I killed a baby but with the angle that I did so for no reason.

The sexual and psychological abuse continued, I was arrested 4 times by his colleagues for ‘lying’. They with held essential medication whilst I was in custody for over 8 hours and despite an FME saying they could not manage my medication in custody they continued to do the same thing and on one occasion I was left in so much pain that a custody nurse accidentally overdosed me but stood down the ambulance. I have had disabilities ever since and a couple weeks back I learned that the repeated & severe trauma that I have been left enduring by a police force protecting their own is the reason I have developed a neurological condition that put me in a wheelchair for 16 months, that has left me unable to read, unable to swallow properly and other significant illnesses. I was placed on remand in prison and found guilty of a crime I did not commit because as a result of the neurological disorder and an investigation that I now know is missing much evidence because my condition affects memory recall. When I came home I managed to get information together such as receipts and court documents that proved categorically that he lied whilst on Oath and yet South Wales Police took 6 months of passing from Dept to Dept to avoid dealing with the issue and clearly no investigation whatsoever to not do anything again. South Wales Police even reported there were no updates from a police perspective as part of section 47 police enquiries when he was being investigated for rape and then was allowed to give his own bias update on the investigation and not one agency thought we need to double check this. So much for domestic abuse and child protection processes protecting the vulnerable. He admitted to [redaction made for legal reasons] in a family Court statement and yet told child protection officers that he would never do such a thing and they took his word for it without carrying out any checks. Myself and my family were subjected to hundreds of false allegations and because he was a police officer he had no reason to lie.

Police have failed to investigate the crimes I have been subjected to, failed to send in forensics, failed to share information to safeguard the public and I even had South Wales Police PSD attend my neighbours homes and tell them not to put a foot over my doorstep as I was extremely dangerous. A complaint forced them to apologise but not until I had been ostracised in my own community whilst in a wheelchair and isolated due to covid. An apology that they then tried to deny when one of the neighbours raised her own complaint after the police refused to go out and tell my neighbours they had been lied to. My neighbour responded stating that she had subjected me to disability discrimination as a result of the lies told to her by South Wales Police and raising written concern with my apology letter attached about another officer in the same department trying to repeat history. South Wales Police PSD have refused to investigate this saying it is because the issue arose whilst investigating another complaint. So clearly South Wales Police can commit offences against disabled members of the public and this be ok because they did so in the course of their duties.

I have police regularly attend my home and abuse me and for 6 months I was told when reporting the crimes to 101 that I was not allowed to as the crime involves police so I would need to refer to Professional Standards Department (PSD). PSD refuses to investigate or accept the complaint saying I need to report to 101/999. I have watched services and friends get involved with all the enthusiasm that they will be the ones to help stop it only to watch the hope drain out of them. I hide my friends now, I am secretive about everything and I trust no one. My abusers did not cause that, it was the poor communication between services and the fact nobody did anything but became facilitators of abuse when he made ludicrous allegations such as [redaction made for legal reasons]. He raped me and they did nothing [redaction made for legal reasons]. The services are an absolute joke and then there is all of this shock with the Metropolitan Police. I would put forward that it is in every police force it’s just that so many victims have been let down because the abusive officer is coercing his colleagues to believe he is the innocent victim and they then take matters in to their own hands and punish anyone raising a genuine complaint.

I found that all allegations made against police officers are hidden on a different system and not accessible even when court orders request all allegations made against either parent therefore if you mention it you are accused of lying.

I found out that my first husband’s warning for harassment for when he followed me in a police vehicle was hidden in his personnel file and not on the police database. I was one of several women raising domestic abuse complaints about him. He is now not on the barred list for all the wives and partners he terrorised but because he was sexually inappropriate with a female colleague. How much of his behaviour that had clearly escalated from when we were together was because he was protected and not held to account for the repeated abuse he put us through.

[ … redaction made for legal reasons].

My advice to anyone leaving police is run and hide, don’t believe it will be different for you because it won’t be. Change your name as quick as you can and self fund wherever possible to create as little a paper trail as possible. Do not trust the police as they have already been building their story for months, you will not stand a chance. It does not matter whether the police officer you are speaking to appears genuine as they are not calling the shots.

Constabulary: South Wales Police

Timespan: 2003-Present

Did you report it to the police?: Yes

Your ethnicity: White British

Have you experienced suicidality due to this?: Thoughts/feelings

Are you disabled as defined under the Equality Act 2010?: Yes

illustration by Danny Noble

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