A woman who was in a controlling relationship said her boyfriend made her get his name tattooed on her arm against her will.
Alisa Thomas, 29, first met Martin Mitchell through work two years ago and they started dating.
Describing her first impression of him, she said he was “really, really nice”, “charming” and paid her compliments.
The mum-of-two from Llantwit Major, Wales, moved in with Mitchell and it soon became clear he had difficulties controlling his emotions – especially anger.
Recalling the first time he lost his temper, the postwoman said: “It was terrifying. It was within two weeks of him moving in when I first saw it.”
Alisa said her former partner came to pick up their son and she brushed her hair out of her face while talking to him outside.
When she went back into the house she said Mitchell “lost it”, accusing her of flirting with her ex and calling her abusive names like “slag” and “slut”.
The woman said: “That’s the first time I saw it.
“As soon as it happened once it just got worse and worse to the point I was not allowed out of his sight.”
After a series of incidents, Mitchell was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court, where he has been found guilty of controlling behaviour.
Speaking out after the sentence, Alisa said: “He frightened the life out of me.”
She added Mitchell set out rules she had to follow – for example, banning her from saying her former partner’s name and insisting she use a derogatory name instead.
She said he lost his temper with her for “messing up”.
Alisa, who felt herself becoming distant, explained: “I could see it happening. I was frightened to do anything.”
Mitchell did not want her to have any contact with her former partner and checked her messages, telling her what she could and could not say.
He even started to control her appearance and pressured her to wear red lipstick even though she did not usually wear much make-up.
Mitchell also made her throw away any clothes she owned before they got together, including shoes and underwear.
When they went on holiday to Gran Canaria in September 2018, Mitchell decided Alisa should get his name tattooed on her arm.
However the woman, who already had a small tattoo on her stomach which she regretted, did not want to get another one.
She said: “I don’t even like tattoos – it’s not my thing.
“But you couldn’t say no to him. He wanted it on my entire arm so everyone could see it.”
The tattoo artist refused to do the name design that big but agreed to do a smaller version on her wrist, Alisa said.
Once Mitchell’s name was branded on her skin, he told her: “Now everyone will know you’re mine.”
Alisa said three weeks later Mitchell wanted her to get a bigger neck tattoo to make sure more people would be able to see it.
She said she begged him not to get it as she would not be able to have the tattoo at work.
The couple bought a house in Boverton in the Vale of Glamorgan in April 2019 and Mitchell would not let her put up any pictures of her life before their relationship.
She said: “I had canvases of my kids but he told me: ‘You’re not having those in the house.'”
Alisa said she was not allowed to speak to male colleagues and Mitchell expected her to stay on the phone to him throughout her shifts.
“He would tell me who I could and couldn’t speak to,” she recalled.
“I didn’t know who I was any more. I was miserable. I was not who I am. I couldn’t make one decision.
“It was suffocating. I was so worried every day about making him angry. I would shake all the time – I was so scared. Towards the end I just wanted to die. It was getting so bad.”
There was an altercation following an argument at a pub on August 28 last year and a neighbour called the police.
Mitchell was taken to the police station in Bridgend and told officers: “I didn’t think I did anything wrong. It was only a little push.”
He denied controlling or coercive behaviour and the case was listed for trial at Cardiff Crown Court on March 4.
Alisa and other witnesses attended, ready to give evidence.
She said: “I was terrified of going into the courtroom.
“I could not imagine anything worse. I knew he would be there.”
Mitchell, 49, from St David Street in Ton Pentre, changed his plea as the trial was due to start and Alisa did not have to go into the witness box or face cross-examination.
He was due to be sentenced later in March but the hearing was adjourned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, May 4, Mitchell was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 10 days of a rehabilitation activity with focus on victim empathy.
He was ordered to complete 24 sessions of the Building Better Relationships programme plus 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,800 towards costs.
Judge Nicola Jones noted the offending happened over a prolonged period of time and said he had shown a lack of insight into his offending.
She made a three-year restraining order.
Alisa said she did not expect him to get an immediate custodial sentence as she had been advised of the likely outcome.
She reflected if he had gone to prison “he could feel what it is like to lose control of everything”.
Alisa is now recovering, trying to rebuild her and her children’s lives one step at a time – from counselling to finding a new home.
“It’s a long road. There are a lot of things to sort out,” she said.
“But there is so much help out there.”
She has since had Mitchell’s name covered with a black and white flower design.
The woman added if she had realised support was available such as from Atal y Fro – an organisation helping families to break the cycle of domestic abuse – she may have spoken out sooner.
Alisa said the case was handled swiftly, adding: “I have got to applaud the justice system. I do feel like justice was served. It is out there now and we are free.
“Hopefully I can give at least one person the courage not to put up with this kind of abuse anymore.”