A husband who was beaten by his prison reform boss wife told today how he kept her campaign of abuse a secret for 20 years because it is ‘hard’ for men to speak out. 

Father of three Richard Spencer, from Bubwith, East Yorkshire, was subjected to verbal abuse and daily beatings from Sheree Spencer, 45, that left him cowering on the floor in the foetal position. 

For years he secretly recorded video and audio of his wife’s attacks on him and when police became involved he handed over 43 images of his bruised face, taken on different dates following savage assaults he had suffered.

She was jailed for four years last month, and today Richard bravely spoke out about his experience on Good Morning Britain. ‘It’s really hard for any victim of domestic abuse to disclose what’s happened. I kept it as a secret for 20 years,’ he said. 

‘But then there’s a different element in that I’m bigger and stronger and I could physically stop the violence by restraining her, but then at some point you’ve always got to let go and it would be worse. There’s a stigma of not wanting to tell your friends that a lady could do that to you.’ 

Sheree Spencer, 45, was jailed for four years for making her husband Richard's life a living hell with daily beatings and verbal attacks that left him cowering on the floor in the foetal position

Sheree Spencer, 45, was jailed for four years for making her husband Richard’s life a living hell with daily beatings and verbal attacks that left him cowering on the floor in the foetal position

In furious wine-fuelled tirades, Spencer would call Richard ‘fat boy,’ ‘a pussy’ and ‘dumb dumb’ and caused bruises and scratches that he would need to cover with make-up before going outside.

On one occasion she defecated on the floor and forced him to clean it up, and on another she beat him with a wine bottle so hard it permanently disfigured his ear.

Yet, in an effort to hide her abuse, she would claim to be a victim herself. 

‘She’d open the window and shout ”Richard, stop hitting me, you’re hurting me” and then say how clever she was,’ Richard told GMB.

Asked how he managed to deal with the abuse for two decades, Richard said the reasons were ‘complex’.   

‘The key thing to get across is how incremental it was – it started off with minor things like pushing, slapping and abusive shouting. 

‘But those sort of things were normalised. You’d see them every day on a soap opera – it wouldn’t be out of the norm for a lady to slap a man. 

‘Then it got worse and worse. She was always really apologetic. She’d say how sorry she was the next day and tell her she loved me. Write notes saying we were soulmates and stuff like that. 

‘For her it was almost like a coping mechanism when she was going through things she found difficult to deal with. She could control what she was doing to me but not other things in her life.’ 

Richard Spencer

He took photos of his injuries

Richard Spencer was subjected to verbal abuse and daily beatings from Sheree Spencer, 45, that left him cowering on the floor in the foetal position. He took photos of his injuries 

Spencer worked at the highest levels for HM Prison and Probation Service and bragged to friends that she had the ear of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Spencer worked at the highest levels for HM Prison and Probation Service and bragged to friends that she had the ear of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Richard, who praised officers from Humberside Police for dealing with his case in an ’empathetic’ manner, said the fact he shared three young children with his wife made it harder to speak out. 

Describing what was going through his mind during the beatings, he said: ‘I was lying in the foetal position so I could protect my face so I could still take my children to school. That was the main thing that was going on in my mind. 

‘They’re doing really well now. They’ve been really resilient. The eldest one got upset the first time I told her. And the kids were talked a bit about at school, but they’ve been really resilient.’

Spencer worked at the highest levels for HM Prison and Probation Service and bragged to friends that she had the ear of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A former friend said: ‘She would brag about being only two down from the Prime Minister in her field and had meetings with Boris Johnson, who she spoke of as though he were a friend.

‘She was bragging about her high flying career while subjecting her poor husband, a lovely man, to daily abuse, degradation and humiliation.’

Within months of becoming a couple in 2000, Richard Spencer endured her violent rages, which happened whether she was drunk or sober.

Giving evidence in court, Richard said he became almost immune to the physical abuse she meted out, even though she would cause him immense pain by sinking her teeth into him.

But he said the mental scars left by 16 years of her hate-filled attacks were what would leave the most lasting effect.

Her reign of domestic terror finally ended in June 2021 when the police were called to their family home by a concerned welfare worker

Her reign of domestic terror finally ended in June 2021 when the police were called to their family home by a concerned welfare worker 

Spencer’s reign of domestic terror finally ended in June 2021 when the police were called to their family home by a concerned welfare worker.

Her arrest that day on suspicion of assaulting her husband opened a door into the hell he had kept private for his entire married life. 

Richard Pratt, KC, told the court there was little he could say to mitigate against Spencer’s appalling treatment of her husband and described her professional accomplishments as ‘ironic.’

He said it was ‘almost impossible to recognise’ her professional person as the same woman who subjected her husband to the ‘shocking and distressing’ attacks.

Mr Pratt said: ‘It is perhaps particularly ironic that one of the projects she had been working on has been dealing with the effects of custodial sentences on the family.

‘That is an irony but what is important and significant is that she continued to work and has an excellent work reputation and record.’

He said that Spencer had suffered bouts of depression and anxiety throughout her life which she had ‘wrongly’ sought to self medicate by drinking alcohol.

The court was told that on some days she would drink as much as three bottles of wine.

Judge Kate Rayfield told Spencer: ‘This is the worst case of controlling and coercive behaviour I have seen.’ 

Spencer's arrest on suspicion of assaulting her husband opened a door into the hell he had kept private for his entire married life

Her arrest that day on suspicion of assaulting her husband opened a door into the hell he had kept private for his entire married life

She described how she had sat through two hours of video and audio recordings of Spencer hurling hateful abuse at her husband.

Judge Rayfield said: ‘In one of these recordings it is clear you had defecated on the floor. Your husband can be heard scrubbing while you are heard to say to him: ‘I made you do that, all I asked you to do was go to the shop.

‘I watched as you spat in his face time and time again and called him ‘bitch, tiny c*** and skank and insulted members of his family.

‘You whispered in his face in the most sinister way, shouted demands and instructions at him – ‘Get the f***ing chicken on, get to the f***ing shop’ and warning him ‘you will learn.’

The judge added: ‘By your actions you intended to humiliate or degrade Richard and you have caused him significant psychological harm.

‘Richard Spencer was a vulnerable victim, isolated from his family and trapped financially.’

Spencer admitted coercive and controlling behaviour and three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The charges could only cover a five year period dating from the time the law on controlling and coercive behaviour was passed in late 2015.

But Judge Rayfield said she took account of her persistent behaviour towards her husband because it cast light on his vulnerability as her victim.

Spencer could be heard sobbing as she was led away to the cells to begin her four year term last month.  

DailyMail

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