Woman suffered 15 years of abuse by controlling partner who stopped her leaving the house alone, taking the pill or owning a mobile phone – and kept her in his VAN while he worked as a landscape gardener
- Katie Royle, 33, from Derbyshire, wasn’t allowed to leave house without partner
- Richard Martin, 55, forbade her to use the internet, use a phone or take the pill
- Own mother Patsy Royle couldn’t meet her four grandchildren because of him
- Martin was sentenced to two years in jail for controlling and coercive behaviour
A woman has told of the 15 years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her controlling partner – who stopped her taking the pill, owning a mobile phone and even kept her in his work van during his shifts.
Katie Royle, 33, from Derbyshire, wasn’t allowed to leave the house without partner Richard Martin, 55, who forbade her to use the internet or own a phone during their relationship.
Mother-of-four Katie had no control over when she became pregnant or how many children she had because he ‘stopped her taking the contraceptive pill’.
Martin was sentenced to two years in jail at Derby Crown Court on November 29, 2018, for ‘engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate/family relationship’.
She’s now speaking out about her ordeal in the hope it will help other women spot the lesser-known signs of domestic abuse.
Katie Royle, 33, from Derbyshire, with her husband Richard Martin and two of their four children. Martin would verbally abuse Katie and her children, calling her ‘thick’ and telling them she didn’t love them
Katie Royle wasn’t allowed to leave the house without her partner Richard Martin, 55, who forbade her to use the internet or own a phone during their relationship. Pictured celebrating her 33rd birthday
The couple met in Ilkeston, when Katie was 16 and Martin was 39, with the controlling behaviour beginning shortly after she had their first child.
Katie became increasing isolated over the years. She didn’t return to work and wasn’t allowed to see her family – her own mother, Patsy Royle, 55, never met her grandchildren.
Abuser Martin, a landscape gardener at the time, would drive Katie and the children to work with him and keep them in his van during his shift.
Martin would verbally insult and belittle Katie in front of their children, calling her ‘thick’ and ‘useless’.
Martin was sentenced to two years in jail at Cruel Martin was sentenced to two years in jail at Derby Crown Court on November 29, 2018
The brave mother finally broke away from the relationship when she went to the doctors to seek help for her mental health.
Katie, from Sandiacre, Derbyshire, said: ‘I wasn’t allowed to go on the internet or have a mobile phone.
‘I couldn’t go out and see other people and it slowly got worse throughout the relationship. He would question me, tell me I didn’t need to see anyone else. I was with him.
‘I didn’t want to have more children, but he wouldn’t allow me to go and get the pill from the doctors.
‘I didn’t see my family and my mum never once met her grandchildren.
‘I didn’t realise he was doing anything wrong. I didn’t understand that it was abuse because it had always been like that.’
Katie celebrating the new year and her new start with her mother Patsy. Patsy did not meet her grandchildren before Katie managed to leave the relationship
Katie was 16-years-old when she met Richard Martin, who was 37, in the pub where she worked in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
She said: ‘When we met I thought he was very charming. He seemed very caring and kind. We were friends for a while but once we got together things moved quickly.
‘I moved in with him on my 17th birthday and he proposed the same day. Looking back, the controlling behaviour started from the beginning, but I didn’t see it.
‘I was working at a nursery and he’d take me to work and pick me up everyday.
‘To begin with we’d still go to the pub and do things, but he didn’t like me being alone, so we’d always go together.
‘My family didn’t see a problem either. My mum didn’t like him, but that was because there was an age difference. He was about a week younger than her.’
In December 2004, Katie got pregnant with their first child, and they moved from their flat to a new house together in Sandiacre, Derbyshire.
Katie became increasingly isolated from her family and didn’t return to work to become a full-time mother.
She said: ‘I had my daughter in April 2005 when I was 19 and that was it. I didn’t go out by myself and I wasn’t allowed to go back to work.
‘My mum wasn’t allowed to come around, he convinced me not to let her come over.
‘I didn’t even speak to the neighbours – if ever we went out I kept my head down and avoided speaking with them.
‘My mobile phone broke early on in our relationship and I wasn’t allowed a new one.
‘I was with him, so he told me I didn’t need to see or call anyone else – he controlled every aspect of my life.
‘He stopped me going to get my prescription for the pill from the doctors. He just make excuses, tell me we’d collect it next week and never go and get it.
‘It was awful having someone control when we had kids but it was easier to do what he wanted rather than face his temper.
‘He would call me names like “thick” and tell my daughter that: “Mummy doesn’t love you, she loves everyone but you.”‘
‘I don’t have many photos of myself or us together because it was another part of the abuse.He’d take the micky out of the way I looked so I didn’t want photos.’
Katie with her four children. She explained Martin forbade her to take the pill, to use the internet or a mobile phone, sentencing her to a life of seclusion
After Katie had their second child, in 2007, Martin insisted that she accompany him during the day during his job as a landscape gardener.
Katie claims she would sit in the van and wait for him during his shift.
This continued for roughly eight years as Katie had two more children with Martin.
She said: ‘I’d sit there, sometimes for an hour or an hour-and-a-half at a time. As the kids got bigger they’d get restless and play on the garden’s he was working on.
‘I did think that it wasn’t right but he didn’t see a problem with it and just dismissed it.
‘We’d go away in his work camper van for holidays to campsites in Wales but we’re really able to do much.
‘He’d drive us to areas where no one was around and we’d go to secluded beaches with no people to make sure we didn’t see anyone.
‘The kids weren’t allowed to play with other children and by 8pm we back were inside the van for bed. We went away but it wasn’t a holiday.’
Katie finally broke free in 2018 when she left one evening to seek medical help for her deteriorating mental health.
She added: ‘I got to the point where I didn’t want to carry on and I felt the kids would have been better off without me.
‘I had a couple of pounds saved in my purse and I knew how far the bus stop was from the house.
Free: Katie now with a friend. Katie mustered the courage to leave her abusive partner after discussing her mental health with a GP
‘I had to leave the kids behind and I remember seeing him leave the house looking for me as I waited for the bus.
‘The doctor didn’t have any appointments so I just waited for hours until I could see one.
‘I explained that I thought I had depression and I was worried about my mental health.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control is a type of domestic abuse that had no name until four years ago, when the Serious Crimes Act 2015 made it a criminal offence.
Women’s Aid describes the signs as:
Isolating you from friends and family
Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
Monitoring your time
Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
Controlling your finances
Making threats or intimidating you
The Crown Prosecution Service Case information system recorded 960 offences of coercive and controlling behaviour where a prosecution commenced at magistrates’ courts in the year ending March 2018. This is a three-fold increase from 309 in the year ending March 2017 (ONS, 2018). 97% of defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour in the year ending December 2017 were male (ONS, 2018).
Source: Women’s Aid
‘The doctor listened and then talked it all back to me, that was the first time I’d heard it all together, everything he’d done.’
Social services helped Katie track down her family and encouraged her to contact the police.
PC Sutton, of Derbyshire Police, was the first officer to interview Katie when she was taken into Ilkeston Police station July 2018.
He said: ‘Katie relayed to me about an assault and the lifestyle her and the children had been enduring for the past 15 years, combined with the fact she had not seen her mother and other family for a number of years, it was obvious to me that all parties involved needed our help.
‘It became apparent to me that Katie had made a huge step in leaving the house and that she was reaching out for help, not only for herself, but also for the sake of her children.
‘I can honestly say that I have seen the family blossom and I am pleased that I was the officer on duty that day – I hope Katie finds the peace and happiness she deserves.’
Martin was sentenced to two years in jail at Derby Crown Court for ‘engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate/family relationship’ on November 29, 2018.
Katie said: ‘I went for a police interview and I still didn’t believe what he was doing was wrong.
‘They explained that it was criminal offence. There was one officer who incredibly supportive and got me out of it.
‘I didn’t even know where my family lived. I got driven to my sister’s street and started knocking on doors till I found her.
‘She told me where my mum lived and I went round to see her. After we were reunited we spent the first Christmas together again as a family.
‘I wouldn’t change my kids for the world but if I could go back and do things differently, I would.
‘I didn’t realise that what he was doing was wrong and I’m sure there are others going through it.
‘I want to help other women with my story hopefully help them see the signs quicker than I did.’