A woman who was raped by her ex-partner as their severely disabled son lay next door in Doncaster has bravely spoken out against the ‘monster’.
Ruby Smith suffered for more than 35 years at the hands of Andrew Parkin, who attempted to control her every move, dishing out savage beatings if she failed to answer the phone or dared to meet friends.
The 53-year-old, of Watch House Lane, in Bentley, was jailed for seven years after being found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court earlier this month of three counts of rape and one count of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.
Ruby has waived her anonymity to tell her harrowing story in the hope it will give other victims the strength to come forward.
She was just 16 when she met Parkin, with whom she went on to have three children, and his reign of terror began almost immediately.
“I was living at home with my mum and he would come round and throw stones at my bedroom window to get me to show my face so he knew I wasn’t out somewhere," she said.
“He even sent his mum round to feel the bonnet of the car while he was at work because if it was warm it meant I’d been out.
“He could go where he liked but I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without him.
“In the first 15 years he would brutally assault me, beating me to a pulp while I lay curled into a ball waiting for him to stop.
“After that he realised he didn’t need to hit me anymore because I was so scared all it took was a look. He knew he had complete control over me.”
Ruby grew so terrified of what he might do to her that she stopped seeing friends, barely left the house, except for work, and would wear baggy clothes and avoid putting on make-up lest it rouse his jealousy.
He would follow her and would call at least 10 times most days demanding to know where she was and what she had been up to, she says, and if she failed to answer immediately he would fly into a jealous rage.
“If I had a bath one day he would question why I was having another bath, and if I was late getting home I would have butterflies in my stomach because I knew he would be waiting for me,” she said.
Ruby, who supported older people to live independently before giving up work to care full-time for her disabled son, was warned on numerous occasions by Parkin that if she told anybody about the abuse he would kill her.
When she tried to leave him early in their relationship, she says he took an overdose and told her that if she ever left him he would kill himself and it would be her fault.
Despite his obsessive jealousy, she described how how he brazenly embarked on numerous affairs while they were together. On one occasion, he even tried to force his hand down her sister's pants – something Ruby only discovered years later.
Even after moving in with another woman, Parkin refused to loosen his grip on Ruby, chillingly telling her: “I’m going to come to the house every day to check on you and I’m going to keep ringing you because I need to know at all times where you are.”
If she didn't answer the phone when he called, ‘it would tip him over the edge’.
“He’d left and he was with another woman but he still needed to have that control over me,” she said.
“It was unbearable. I was sat with the phone in my hand in case he rang because I was so scared about what would happen if I missed his call.”
On August 5 last year, she had returned from a wedding and was asleep at home when he burst through the door of her bedroom, having let himself into her house.
“He looked under the bed because he said I was hiding a man there and then he started going through the bedside drawers. That was the first night he raped me,” she said.
A few weeks later she was at the bungalow where their eldest son Craig, who required constant care following a crash in 2008, lived.
“He turned up and demanded I let him in, and when I did he raped me in the front bedroom while my son was in the other bedroom with two carers,” she said.
“The Tuesday after that I’d been working nights and when I got home he let himself in and raped me in the kitchen.
“My daughter-in-law was due at 12.30pm with my granddaughter and all I could do while he was raping me was watch the clock thinking I hope they don’t see what he’s doing to me.”
Ruby said she had gone to the South Yorkshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Hackenthorpe Lodge after the first rape but was told she would be put in a safe house and would be unable to see Craig.
She was not prepared to accept that since she did not know how much longer her eldest son, who has sadly since died, had left to live.
“It was more important to me to spend time with my son and try to put to the back of my mind what he was doing to me,” she said.
“It might sound strange but to me I didn’t matter because I’d been told for so many years I was worthless that I believed it.
“He told me all the time that no one would ever love me like he did and it was because of his love that he had to control me.”
After he raped her that third time, she went into hiding.
But he called obsessively and when she didn’t answer he went first to their eldest son’s bungalow, where their daughter described how he had acted ‘like a man possessed’, and then to her house where he became aggressive towards their son and daughter-in-law who were living with her at the time.
“When my daughter-in-law called, I knew I had to ring the police and stop all this,” she said.
“He’d hurt me all my life and that was fine but now he was dragging the rest of the family into it and I couldn’t let him hurt them.”
She was told to change her locks immediately and was taken to Hackenthorpe Lodge.
When Parkin turned up at her house and saw a plain clothes police officer she says he assumed it was her boyfriend and was arrested after flying into a rage.
The case went to court, where Ruby gave evidence via video link, but she was convinced he would get away with what he had done right up until the jury announced its verdict on September 5.
“He never took responsibility for anything he did in his life. It was always my fault,” she said.
“He would tell me ‘if you’d got in at the right time or answered the phone straight away I wouldn’t have to do that to you’.
“After a while, I started to believe I was the one to blame.
“Because he’d drummed it into me that he was always right and I was always wrong, I thought right up until the jury announced their verdict that he was walking free from court.
“I’m not happy with the sentence because he could be out in three-and-a-half years but I’ve got a life sentence in here,” she added, tapping her head.
Today, Ruby is undergoing counselling and speech therapy for the stammer she says was brought on by the trauma, but she is just glad to have her life back.
She described her family’s support as ‘overwhelming’ and also thanked the ‘fantastic’ police officers who she says were always there for her.
“The first month after I’d gone to the police was like a bereavement for me because I’d accepted that life,” she said.
“It was like I didn’t know who I was any more. I felt like I needed someone to ring me and ask where are you going, what are you doing?
“I’d been controlled for so long that when I had to think for myself I couldn’t do it at first.
“But now I go round the house and say to myself ‘I did it, I stood up to that monster and I’ve come out the other side’.
“My daughter said to me that even if he hadn’t been convicted the best thing for me is that he's out of my life.
“He was a member of the golf club and tried to pass himself off as a respectable family man.
“But I want everyone to know what that monster did to me and I want other women to know there is support if they speak out.”
You can call the South Yorkshire Sexual Violence Partnership on 01302 369825, South Yorkshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0330 223 0938 or National Rape Crisis Support on 0808 802 9999.