A MAN has revealed the horrifying abuse he suffered at the hands of his wife and it was so bad he had to wear make-up to cover his injuries.
Richard Spencer, 46, endured 20 years of violence from Sheree, a senior manager at the Ministry of Justice, which included daily beatings and verbal abuse.
She was sentenced to four years behind bars at Hull Crown Court after pleading guilty to coercive and controlling behaviour and three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The shocking abuse included being spat in the face and being hit with whatever Sheree had to hand, including a bottle, a mobile phone and a TV remote.
One time, she defecated on the floor and forced him to clean it up. On another she beat him with a wine bottle so violently it permanently disfigured his ear.
Shocking videos, caught on a security camera in the children’s playroom, show him being threatened with a knife, dragging him to the floor, kicking and punching him.
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She can be heard screaming: “Get the f***ing chicken on! Get to the f***ing shop… You will learn.”
Following Sheree’s arrest in June 2021, Humberside police interviewed Richard at their home in a leafy village near York and the investigating officer was so disturbed by what she heard she had to leave the room.
Now, he is speaking out in order to “help as many other people in a similar situation as I can”.
Richard told the Daily Mail: “I want as many people to read about my thoughts and feelings and think, 'That sounds like me or that sounds like my partner' because this was so incremental.”
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He said: “For the first couple of years it was 95 per cent nice times and 5 per cent not nice times. It evolved. By the time she was punching me so I was having to wear make-up to hide the bruises, the abuse had become the norm.”
Ultimately, he said he lost his independence and willpower with Sheree controlling everything, including which room he could sleep in to which toilet he could use.
When the pair met in a nightclub in 2000 he was a fun-loving 23-year-old who loved music and travel and she was 22 who Richard described as a “fun, effervescent, really confident person” who would do kind things and buy “thoughtful gifts”.
However, the violence began a few months into their relationship when she was staying at his flat in Ipswich.
Richard said the arguments would begin “always when she’d been drinking” and could be about anything, usually something he’d done or not done.
The abuse started with her pushing or slapping him and breaking things, then the next day she would apologise, saying it wouldn’t happen again and write notes saying she loved him.
He would also apologise, feeling that he had played a role in the argument.
When asked why he didn’t end the relationship when they were just dating he couldn’t really explain it adding he had “quite a lot of blank periods in my mind”.
At the time he said he felt he was in love with her but said: “looking back now I don't think I'd call it love any more.'
When she had an affair with a friend of his in January 2007 he even excused her saying it was his fault because he was working long hours on his internet business and neglecting her.
She claimed he had been “disloyal” for putting his family before her when he had gone to a party at his auntie’s house, that she didn’t want to go to.
Sheree claimed he had deserved that she’d had the affair.
Following the affair, Richard’s relationship with his family became increasingly distant and he saw friends less and less.
Using the pretext of a holiday, the couple went to Thailand to get married in December 2009 in the Phi Phi Islands without any family members or friends there.
Richard said their wedding day “wasn’t the best of days”.
He said Sheree got drunk and angry with the people who came to do her hair but he excused her behaviour, thinking it was down to the pressure of the day.
For Richard, he saw the marriage as a natural progression and it would be a fresh start – but they didn’t get back on track and the violence escalated.
One issue was that they hadn’t been able to start a family with Sheree saying she would be happy once she had a baby.
They called trying for a baby their “baby dance” with Richard sometimes having to “dance” twice a day.
If he wasn’t physically able she would belittle him saying all he had to do was perform and telling him he wasn’t a man.
The more desperate she was, the more angry she got, talking about his size as a way to insult him.
Having tried for three years, they decided upon IVF but when the third cycle failed in February 2014, Sheree’s violence increased.
In April that year Sheree smashed a wine glass on his head causing an injury which needed stitches.
Eventually in 2015 their first child was conceived during their sixth cycle of IVF and he immediately fell in love with his daughter.
Any happiness though was short-lived and things went further downhill even after they moved to a bigger house.
Richard said she “started really attacking me” a year after they moved when their daughter was about 14 months old.
The abuse would last for several hours at a time, with Richard saying she’d attack him and then sit down, he would try to placate her but she’d then start hitting and punching him again.
When she was angry she would often smash his laptop on the floor and one time she put it in the washing-up water.
He got through so many laptops that he ended up hiding them.
She would also threaten him about their daughter, saying she would smash her face in the mirror and cut it, then call the cops and tell them he’d done it.
It was around then that he realised he needed to protect himself and started collecting recording from the camera in the playroom and take photos of his injuries.
Richard though still wanted them to be together and loved being in a family unit and clung to the thought that having another baby would help them get through it all.
Their middle daughter was conceived during the first cycle of IVF and within four months of her birth, Sheree fell pregnant again with a child conceived naturally.
After their third child was born the violence and drinking escalated.
Sheree would lie on the sofa drinking as much as three bottles of wine a day, then in the early hours she would slap Richard awake and make him drive to the garage to get more alcohol.
Richard said he would usually be alone in bed, either in pain from the beatings with a bottle or feeling totally demoralised.
He said he would often imagine a switch on the wall that could end all the pain and suffering, when he switched on the light, in his mind, all the darkness would be turned into pure light and he would be absorbed by it.
Richard’s suffering finally came to an end thanks to an old friend Tony who worked as a military policeman.
Tony had gone to their home after getting a drunken call from Sheree who said she was being abused.
Although when he arrived Richard revealed the truth and shared the shocking video footage and images of his injuries.
Tony then alerted the authorities as to what had been going on and arrested her.
Even when he was giving his statement to the police he tried to defend her and rationalise her behaviour.
The following day, cops informed him they were charging her.
Reality finally dawn on Richard when the police told him of her reaction when they showed her a video of her threatening Richard with a knife against his neck.
They said she had never showed any emotion and he realised “her whole life was a tapestry of lies”.
Richard handed the police a total of 36 videos, nine audio recordings and 43 photographs detailing the abuse.
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He now accepts it will take many years, if at all, for the mental scars to heal but now only wants to give his daughters stability and a secure home.
- Male victims of domestic abuse can phone Respect, the men's advice line for help and support here.
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