“I screamed. Full-on screamed.”
She beat him. She starved him. She sabotaged his relationships.
Alex Skeel, now 22, was on the brink of death when police arrived in 2017 to rescue him from his abusive girlfriend. Even then, Skeel tried to protect her.
“I kept saying I did it to myself, it was me,” he recalled. “I was scared what she was going to do.”
On Monday, Skeel’s story is being told in a BBC Three documentary titled “Abused by My Girlfriend.” According to The Sun, he is one of nearly 150,000 men in Britain who reported being the victims of spousal violence in 2017, double the number from just five years earlier.
In 2012, Skeel, a soccer coach from Yorkshire, England, met his girlfriend, Jordan Worth, through friends. They were both 16 years old.
The abuse started gradually, with Worth criticizing Skeel for his looks or clothes.
“But I never took it as a negative. It was more like I won’t wear it again, it won’t impress her,” he said in the documentary.
Then, Worth began belittling Skeel and insulting his intelligence.
“She was academically very bright,” he recounted last April on ITV’s “This Morning” talk show. “I wasn’t of that type, and I think she used it quite a lot, just to belittle me. She’d say, ‘you’re dumb,’ ‘you’re stupid,’ ‘you’re thick,’ all the time.”
Over the next two years, Worth would regularly throw tantrums, oftentimes in public. After Skeel’s friends expressed concerns about her erratic behavior, the two broke up in 2014.
But a few months later, Worth made contact to tell Skeel she was pregnant and he was the father. So, at his family’s encouragement, Skeel gave Worth another chance, and by June 2015, they were living together.
That’s when Worth took control of Skeel’s life.
She seized his social media accounts and cut him off from friends and family, sending them cruel messages under his name. Once, she lied to him that his beloved grandfather had died, watching him weep for hours before telling him the truth.
She took away his wallet and forbid him from holding a job or leaving the house without her supervision. When he did get to go out, it was mostly to accompany her to lectures the University of Hertfordshire, where she was a student.
Worth made Skeel sleep on the floor for months at a time.
He was barely allowed to eat, subsisting mostly on leftover scraps from her meals. Worth also made him take sleeping pills, and on one occasion, he swallowed an entire package at her direction.
Skeel lost over 40 pounds.
“My body started to shut down,” he told the BBC.
After several years, the violence started. With wanton regularity, Worth would fly into fits of rage, attacking Skeel with any household appliance near at hand.
Skeel remembered coming home once after a seemingly cordial dinner, when Worth suddenly said, “‘Right, that’s it’ and picked up her hairbrush and went full-on whack.”
“My tooth was near enough off,” Skeel said. “I had no money, I didn’t drive, so in the end I just ripped the tooth out.”
On another occasion, she bashed his face with a hammer, on yet another — not long after their second daughter was born — she poured a kettle full of boiling water on him while he was sleeping.
“She lifted the lid up and threw it. I screamed. Full-on screamed,” he said.
Worth deigned to let Skeel go to the hospital for emergency treatment that night, but forced him back home before getting an operation. Days later, she assaulted him again. This time with a bread knife, leaving scars all over his hand.
“She went to go at my head,” he said. “It was middle of the night, 2 a.m., and I tried to stop her, get in the bathroom.”
The neighbors became suspicious. Having seen Skeel walking around bleeding, limping, and black-eyed, they took action one night after hearing him scream: “I’m sorry, not my fault, get off me, leave me alone.”
Police arrived in June 2017 to find Skeel emaciated and wounded, his wrist wrapped in a football sock to stop the bleeding. Although he initially took the blame for his own condition, fearing Worth’s retribution, a concerned officer returned a few days later and took him out to McDonald’s. It was the first proper meal he had eaten in months.
Skeel opened up about the abuse, and Worth was arrested and charged with assault. She pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and coercive behavior and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
Taken to the hospital for treatment, Skeel was told that he had a build-up of fluid in his the skull as a result of being smashed with blunt objects. His injuries would have killed him within weeks without treatment, the doctors said.
“People always ask me, why didn’t you walk away — but it’s so complicated. As each day goes by, I’m understanding it more,” Skeel said.
Women are the primary targets of domestic violence, and the #MeToo movement has drawn renewed attention to the ways that men oppress and abuse women. However, a large number of men face domestic violence, too, and their experiences are often dismissed. In the United States, one in seven adult men have endured “severe” domestic violence, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.