“People who control you don’t love you. They aren’t bothered about your welfare. You don’t need that in your life.”
These are the words of Gemma Doherty after her ex-partner Mohammed Anwaar was jailed for 28 months for abusing her and taking control of her life.
It took Miss Doherty, aged 30, from Jordanthorpe, 15 months to tell the police about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Anwaar. During that time she was kicked, punched and choked, leaving her with cuts and bruises. But the worst scars were psychological.
“I wasn’t allowed to have a phone,” she said.
“He used to control what I ate and what I drank. He would force me to go on a treadmill. He cut me off from my family and friends. He made it a big issue if any of them came round. He made me move house and wouldn’t let me show my mum and dad where I lived. I was trapped, I couldn’t get away from him.
“I changed into a completely different person. I was in a trance all the time. People who knew me could really tell the difference. People shouted my name in the street and I wouldn’t answer them. Every single day it was all about pleasing him to make sure I didn’t upset him.
“I was absolutely petrified of him. I had to be careful how I spoke to him. He would make an issue if I dropped a fork on the floor.”
Part of Anwaar’s demands centre on fitness model Graceyanne Barbosa. He would make Miss Doherty look at her fitness routines and practise them.
“If I didn’t he would beat me,” she said. “He would sit on the toilet while looking at pictures of Graceyanne and would tell me I needed to do more sit ups and do more squats.
“I told him that by losing 500 calories a day on the machine would not achieve that - but he wouldn’t listen.
“He would force me on the treadmill until I achieved the daily target.
“One time I had stopped because he had fallen asleep. I had got to 425 calories, he woke up and because I had stopped - he made me start again.”
Despite her fear of retribution, Miss Doherty – who was in a relationship with Anwaar for about two years – found the courage to go to the police in March this year. As she opened up about Anwaar’s behaviour, she felt a weight lift. “It’s a massive release,” she said.
“Like a tonne of bricks being lifted off my shoulders. Little things like going to the shops and no-one asking you why.”
Miss Doherty did not know about the change in the law that means people can now be charged with controlling and coercive behaviour. But she is pleased it has been introduced.
She said: “When the controlling behaviour starts some girls can find it flattering. Once it starts happening regularly you become used to it like it’s normal. But it’s not.
“Things like controlling whether you have a phone is a really big deal. Girls don’t realise people are breaking the law by doing that. They don’t have to put up with it. You can’t treat someone like that. It’s good that girls can go to the police and they don’t have to stay behind closed doors.
“I do believe that if I could go to the police then anyone can. They were absolutely brilliant with me.
“Don’t let people treat you like that. They don’t love you when they are treating you like that. They have got problems. It’s all about control, they are not bothered about your welfare. You don’t need that in your life. You need to be able to live your life happy.”