I was nervous about reading it; I knew it was going to be tough.She had been beaten to death by her boyfriend after suffering years of emotional and physical abuse. In most of them, this young woman – who we call “Ashley” in the film – was with her girlfriends; at a hen party, busting some moves at a nightclub, pulling daft poses outside the boutique she worked in.It’s been an amazing feat of bravery and generosity on the part of her friends and family who have been instrumental in making this happen.
There are a lot of Ashleys out there and that’s why BBC Three made Murdered By My Boyfriend.
Ashley’s story, like many domestic violence stories, was so complex that we could have made five completely different films.
It was the bits in between that we were really interested in; the gradations of abuse. The challenge was to try to embed some of these subtle details into the film because often they’re the signals that a relationship is on the way to becoming abusive. In that time, at least 229 women in Britain were murdered as a result of domestic violence.
What are the little things that set the stage for more serious abuse down the line? I hope that people watching will note the way that Reece starts, little by little, to take control of Ashley’s life, and if they can see that that’s happening to them or someone they know, they’ll do something about it – talk about it, get some more information … Writing Murdered by My Boyfriend, and retelling this tragic true story, has been heartbreaking but more rewarding than I could ever have imagined that day I took a deep breath and started reading about Ashley’s life.
She was always surrounded by friends and she always looked so happy and confident. I now know that young women aged between 16 and 24 are, in fact, those most at risk from abuse from a partner.