In his bid to have his wife be a size zero, he tortured, abused and starved her. He didn't even spare her during her pregnancy. It took a long time for her to muster up the courage to finally leave him.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 30, 2019. It has since been updated.
Getting married is a commitment. One that involves promises of love, trust, and safety. However, for this woman, what should have been a fairytale marriage, turned into a nightmare the moment she said "I do" at the altar. And the source of her nightmare? The man who vowed to love and adore her.
For 12 years, Catherine Hartley, 31, from Perceton, Irvine was "starved" by her tyrannical husband because he wanted her to be a size zero. In the end, she was so thin that she was able to fit into clothes designed for seven-year-old girls.
The two met when he was 25 and she was just 15 years old. She mentioned that he courted her by buying her cigarettes and alcohol, reported the Daily Mail. Then in October 2006, they got married and for 12 years, Catherine was stuck in a cycle of abuse wherein he did everything to forcefully make her lose weight. Catherine said, “I was very young when I met him and one of the things he did was to groom me. His controlling behavior started the moment I said 'I do.'"
She mentioned that Matthew began to control every aspect of her life and that included what she was allowed what in her diet. He refused to let her eat because he did not want a "fat wife" and stopped her from eating properly. This led to her to weighing as little as 70lbs (five stone) at one point of time. Catherine told the Daily Record, "He said I was fat so he put me on a diet. He wanted a size 0 wife."
Continuing, she explained, "If I ate before I went to bed, he forced me to sleep on the sofa as he didn’t like the smell of food on me. I ended up so thin that when I lay down on the mattress my bones hurt. In the end, I was wearing a girl’s age-seven clothes."
But his cruelty didn't stop there. Catherine said her husband was also physically abusive where he used to grab her by the neck and lift her from her feet. On another occasion, he even threw her across the room.
One of the worse incidents included Catherine's complete humiliation. Having caught her smoking, he pulled off her gown and pushed her on the balcony which happened to be in full view of workers in an office block across the road, according to MSN.
As if that was not enough, he even installed CCTV cameras in every room of the house so that he could keep an eye on her all the time. “He wanted to control me and installed CCTV in every room in our house, even in our bedroom, so he could watch me on his phone. Matthew knew how much I loved my family and would often say he would pay one million pounds just to break my sister’s jaw. He terrified me and he took pleasure in torturing me because he had nothing better to do with his time," she said.
Even when she was pregnant in 2012, Matthew insulted and abused her. “I had back pain during my pregnancy and once, when I asked him to rub my back, he kicked me off the bed, telling me again I was disgusting and fat," she recalled.
Finally, the couple separated in August 2017 before divorcing in April 2019. After they were separated, Catherine called the police and reported her husband for his abusive behavior.
42-year-old Matthew was called to court and pleaded guilty to three counts of assault at Kilmarnock Sheriff's Court in April in relation to his wife. He also pleaded guilty to a sexual assault concerning another woman. However, things took a turn for the worse when Catherine found out that he did not receive a custodial sentence but was instead given a community payback order with 12 months' supervision as well as being told to sign on the sex offenders' register for a year.
According to Metro UK, Catherine said, “He was supposed to be punished but walked away with a slap on the wrists."
She added, “He is a danger to women and he is free to do what he did to me to someone else. He was manipulative, twisted, violent and controlling. My life was like the horror film Sleeping with the Enemy. If the bathroom towels weren’t hanging perfectly straight he would go crazy. I was his prisoner for 12 years, I practically served a life sentence and all he got was a slap on the wrists. It’s like what happened to me doesn’t matter."
She also wanted to give a word of advice to others who were stuck in a situation like hers. “He chipped away at my confidence and self-worth. I felt ashamed of the abuse. I knew my sisters wouldn’t have ever stood for anything like it. I felt like I’d failed. In the end, I went along with things he wanted because I hoped he might be nicer to me but I was never perfect enough. I think he would have eventually killed me. These people don’t change. No one deserves to live like that. You have to tell someone. You have to get out.”