New Channel 5 documentary My Wife, My Abuser: The Secret Footage compared to Depp-Heard trial

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated Mar 21, 2024 at 11:13 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

My Wife, My Abuser: The Secret Footage is the new Channel 5 documentary centred around suburban husband Richard Spencer, who was subjected to a 20-year-long abusive campaign of terror by his wife Sheree. The 75-minute-long film, which aired Monday 18 March 2024, revealed images and footage Spencer obtained with cameras the couple installed to monitor their children at their home in Bubwith, East Yorkshire.

In the footage, Sheree is seen biting and battering her husband during fits of rage. On one occasion, Spencer’s wife is caught holding a knife up to his throat as their children are crying in the background. Most disturbingly, this footage is said to only uncover a small fraction of the abuse Richard endured throughout the years.

“Things that affected me more than the physical attacks would be the more demoralising things she would do to me,” the father of three young girls shared in the documentary.

“In the kitchen, we would often have a box of 12 or more eggs which she would take over to me and crack over my head or push into my face. She was so angry sometimes that the eggshell would cut into my skin. I’d have to go upstairs and shower to get the egg out of my hair and clothes—I would feel hopeless a lot of the time after these things happened.”

The documentary also contains audio footage that reveals how Sheree berated her husband as he washed away the eggshells: “Keep cleaning you c*nt. Keep cleaning you dirty b*tch. Keep scrubbing man, scrub away you b*tch.”

Sheree was jailed in 2023 after her husband presented the police with 43 images of his bruised body. The judge on his case called it “the worst case of controlling and cohesive behaviour” he had ever seen. It completely shattered the picture-perfect image their friends and neighbours had of the couple previously. They were both in successful careers, with Spencer on a six-figure salary, owned a seven-bedroom house in a leafy suburb, and had three beautiful children.

Sheree worked at the highest levels for HM Prison and Probation Service and frequently bragged to friends that she had the ear of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to the Daily Mail.

Online, netizens were understandably shocked about the revelation of the documentary and started sharing resources for men’s mental health.

The documentary was applauded for shedding light on male victims of abuse and highlighting how they are frequently minimised or simply not believed.

What also became increasingly apparent was the lack of direct resources for male victims, with the majority of services being directed or tailored to women. Data related to male victims of abuse is also frequently absorbed into data about abuse directed at women and young girls.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), one in seven men, roughly 13.9 per cent, and one in four women, or around 27 per cent, will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The online discourse also took an unexpected turn when people started likening Spencer’s abuse to the infamous Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case.

In case you don’t know, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were in a relationship for four years before filing for divorce. Heard has since accused her former partner of physical and mental abuse throughout their relationship, embroiling the Hollywood couple in several defamation suits. Their litigious battles reached their peak in 2022, with a heavily covered, televised defamation trial. Within the trial, Depp was able to raise doubt against some claims made by Heard, as well as reveal multiple instances of violence on her end.

Assisted by a public smear campaign, this led the jury to reward him with $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive ones, whereas Heard was only awarded $2 million in compensation.

Many X users pointed out similarities between Heard and Spencer’s wife, in terms of another case of a male victim being overshadowed by a woman.

The case was used to promote the hashtag #abusehasnogender, with Heard and Sheree being the women primarily referred to as examples that perpetrators can also be female. Overall, Spencer’s case was quickly coopted by the far-right, who claimed that the women’s rights lobby was intentionally ignoring, or downplaying men’s cases of abuse to disparage men and fathers.

Others jumped to Heard’s defence and reiterated that violence against women was more common than violence against men.

It should be noted that while abuse has no gender and male victims exist and require special resources, domestic violence is still widely considered a gendered crime. This is due to the overwhelming amount of women and girls, who disproportionately suffer from it.

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