Mother who was beaten and forced to exercise by her ex-boyfriend reveals how his controlling behaviour became 'normal' as he's jailed for domestic violence 

  • Domestic violence victim Gemma Doherty, 30, appeared on This Morning
  • Told of how ex-boyfriend's controlling behaviour became 'normal'
  • Mohammed Anwaar, 37, beat her and forced her to exercise and diet 
  • He was jailed for violent and controlling behaviour at Sheffield Crown Court

A mother whose abusive ex-boyfriend used to control every aspect of her life from what she ate to who she spoke to, said she didn't realise how abnormal this was until after she escaped his clutches.

Gemma Doherty, 30, from Yorkshire, lived in fear of Mohammed Anwaar for nine months as he threatened her with violence if she didn't meet his demands.

He would order her to eat only cans of tuna and run on a treadmill until she had burned 500 calories, as he wanted her to have a slim and toned body like celebrities including fitness model Gracyanne Barbosa.

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Gemma Doherty appeared on today's This Morning and admitted she didn't realise how bad her ex-boyfriend's controlling behaviour was because to her it had become 'normal'

Gemma Doherty appeared on today's This Morning and admitted she didn't realise how bad her ex-boyfriend's controlling behaviour was because to her it had become 'normal'

Gemma said Anwaar had been a 'nice guy' and a 'perfect gent' when they first met and at first she was flattered that he cared so much about where she was going and who with

Gemma said Anwaar had been a 'nice guy' and a 'perfect gent' when they first met and at first she was flattered that he cared so much about where she was going and who with

On today's This Morning, Gemma told presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that Anwaar 'took everything' away from her but she didn't realise how wrong his behaviour was when she lived with him because she both feared and loved him. 

She said she only realised the gravity of her situation when she finally found the courage to report him to the police.

She said: 'I knew the physical side was wrong but not the little things like the controlling behaviour, not being allowed to use the phone, not being allowed to go to shop without permission, not being allowed to eat without permission.

'The police were mortified for me but I had adapted to that behaviour, it had become normal. It was only when I spoke to normal people that I realised what he had been doing was wrong.' 

Mohammed Anwaar was jailed last week after admitting to assault and criminal damage, and the new crime of controlling or coercive behaviour

Mohammed Anwaar was jailed last week after admitting to assault and criminal damage, and the new crime of controlling or coercive behaviour

Last week Anwaar, 27, from Sheffield, was jailed for 28 months at Sheffield Crown Court, South Yorkshire, after pleading guilty to nine counts of assault and criminal damage, and the new crime of controlling or coercive behaviour, brought in at the end of 2015.

Gemma explained how when she first met Anwaar in 2014 he was 'the nicest person and the perfect gent'. 

At first she thought his attentiveness showed how much he cared.

She said: 'Little things like saying he didn't want me to do go out alone I was flattered by at first, I thought it showed how much he cared about me.

'Then after we had been together for six months he started checking my phone and turning up at work to check who I was talking to. Then I was physically attacked one time and it went from there.'

 Gemma explained how when she first met Anwaar in 2014 he was 'the nicest person and the 'perfect gent'

 Gemma explained how when she first met Anwaar in 2014 he was 'the nicest person and the 'perfect gent'

Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were shocked about how Anwaar forced Gemma to work out but she said at the time she didn't realise how abnormal his demands were as she was scared of him

Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were shocked about how Anwaar forced Gemma to work out but she said at the time she didn't realise how abnormal his demands were as she was scared of him

Gemma said she knew the physical attack was wrong but she forgave him when he promised it would never happen again. 

She said: 'The first time it happened it was so out of character because he was such a nice guy, he talked me round. He said how sorry he was and I believed him.'

By the time she realised it wasn't a one-off, she felt too trapped and scared to leave him, especially as by then he had driven all her friends and family away.

'They had always been concerned saying he was no good and I should get rid and I would lie and say he was perfect. I was scared to death and didn't want my friends and family to say "I told you so",' she explained.

Anwaar (pictured) made Gemma burn 500 calories every single day on the treadmill, despite her telling him that it was not the best way to achieve a body like the celebrity women he fancied

Anwaar (pictured) made Gemma burn 500 calories every single day on the treadmill, despite her telling him that it was not the best way to achieve a body like the celebrity women he fancied

Gemma said Anwaar would control what she ate, who she spoke to, and what she ate

Gemma said Anwaar would control what she ate, who she spoke to, and what she ate

The abuse got worse when Anwaar bought a treadmill and forced Gemma to work out, saying she was fat. 

She recalled: 'He bought me a treadmill, I didn't realise it was just for me, I thought he would use it to. He peer pressure me into getting on.

'I was that scared, I knew if I said no what it could lead to like violence, it was awful.

'He would sit and get celebrity exercise regimes up on his phone and show to me what they did and wanted me to do the same.'

Gemma said Anwaar wouldn't accept that she may never be able to achieve a body like Kim Kardashian's and forced her to work out more and eat less in order to achieve it. 

She said: 'He what me to do the same workouts as those who had been training for years but it wasn't physically possible for me to do that amount of training. I would never look like that person.'

It was only after a savage beating that lasted an hour and a half last March - that took place while her three-year-old son was hiding under the bed - that Gemma realised she had to escape.

She said: 'He beat me in every room of the house. I told him my boy was scared and under the bed, it made no difference.'

Gemma said she is happy now her ex is behind bars

Anwaar (pictured) made Gemma burn 500 calories every single day on the treadmill, despite her telling him that it was not the best way to achieve a body like the celebrity women he fancied 

The next day she convinced him to let her go to the shop on her own but she couldn't take her mobile when she went as he controlled her use of it.

She desperately searched for a working phone box and a passerby noticed her distress and offered to help. 

THE NEW LAW TO TACKLE ABUSE FROM CONTROLLING PARTNERS

The new law, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, was brought in to include such behaviours, which do not amount to violence but still cause someone to fear violence will be used against them, or generate serious alarm or distress that has a substantial effect on their usual day-to-day activities.

Abuse can include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation, or behaviour such as stopping a partner socialising, controlling their social media accounts, surveillance through apps or dictating what they wear.

Detective Constable Ian Chamberlain, who investigated the case, said the new law gave South Yorkshire Police new powers to prosecute people who use coercive control, giving officers another way to tackle those who commit domestic abuse.

'In this case, both physical and mental abuse occurred over a prolonged period, and I would like to praise the woman in coming forward and reporting the matter to us,' he said.

'This has enabled us to not only bring Anwaar to justice for his actions, but to also provide this woman with the necessary support in order to help her move forward with her life.'

Following the sentencing, Nicola Lambe, of Sheffield domestic abuse charity Ashiana, said: 'The new legislation has and will continue to help raise awareness around all types of domestic abuse which will help protect women who are or have experienced this type of abuse and to also understand that this is abuse and the fear that this can instil can be damaging.

'Now there is new legislation, women are more likely to understand and seek the support that they need.

Sheffield city councillor Cate McDonald, cabinet member for health and social care, added: 'Controlling or coercive behaviour can take many different forms and can involve making someone do something they don't want to do, repeatedly causing a victim harm and limiting someone's freedom and independence.

'This type of behaviour can be incredibly harmful in an abusive relationship, where one person holds more power than the other.

'There is support for people affected by all types of domestic abuse in Sheffield and we don't want people to suffer in silence.'

They called the police and it was only when Gemma reported to them what had been happening to her and saw their reactions that she realise how bad things had become.  

Gemma gave more details on the abuse she had suffered in a victim impact statement she gave when Anwaar appeared in court last week. 

She said: 'He treated me like an animal - almost like a guinea pig in a laboratory. He wanted me to have abs and a huge ass - a big one like Kim Kardashian.

'His favourite model was Gracyanne Barbosa and he would make me look at her fitness routines and practise them. If I didn't he would beat me.'

She told the court she was forced to eat 50 cans of tuna a week and run on a treadmill every day to meet his demands, and he would not let her see her friends - who noticed her drastic weight loss.

Anwaar made her burn 500 calories every single day on the treadmill, despite her telling him that it was not the best way to achieve a body like the women he showed them.

She said: 'He would sit on the toilet while looking at pictures of Gracyanne and would tell me I needed to do more sit ups and do more squats.

'I told him that by losing 500 calories a day on the machine would not achieve that - but he wouldn't listen. He would force me on the treadmill until I achieved the daily target.

'One time I had stopped because he had fallen asleep. I had got to 425 calories, he woke up and because I had stopped - he made me start again.' 

She added: 'He would only let me eat tuna and beetroot. I would see my friends out and they told me to eat more.

'I was wasting away when I was forced to lose all these calories every day. I felt like a zombie on autopilot and was at his beck and call - whatever and whenever.'

Mixed in with Anwaar's controlling behaviour were violent attacks, the most serious of which was the one in March last year bringing a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm. 

The court heard Anwaar slapped Gemma two or three times around the back of the head, put his hands around her throat so she fell to the floor and choked her in a headlock. He continued the assault, hitting her again and calling her a dog.

Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, said Anwaar had held a knife to Gemma's throat, asking her if she wanted him to kill her, and saying he wasn't scared of a life sentence. 

She added: 'When I told the police that I didn't mind a slap or being roughed about, the officers told me it wasn't normal.

'But I had been sucked into Mo's life of him being a king - and I thought I couldn't get out.' 

This Morning praised Gemma for her bravery and wished her well for the future

This Morning praised Gemma for her bravery and wished her well for the future

Judge Goose sentenced him to 16 months in prison for the assaults and criminal damage, and 12 months for the controlling and coercive behaviour. He also imposed a five year restraining order. 

Superintendent Natalie Shaw, the force lead for domestic abuse, added: 'This is the first successful conviction we have had under the new legislation regarding coercive control, and I am pleased that Anwaar is now behind bars for his actions.

'Domestic abuse is wide ranging and isn't always clear to see upon first examination. Just because physical signs of abuse might not be present, it doesn't mean that someone isn't a victim of domestic abuse, and coercive control can be extremely damaging to a person.

THE FITNESS MODEL THAT CONVICT SPENT MONTHS TRYING TO MODEL HIS GIRLFRIEND AROUND WITH GRUELING EXERCISE REGIME AND DIET

Gracyanne Barbosa is a Brazilian fitness model who started her career as a dancer but began modelling in 2008.

Her flat abs and huge but toned buttocks have now won her millions of admirers all over the world, both male and female.

She now has lucrative advertising deals and her own merchandise - such as protein shakes and supplements - thanks to her massive social media following.

Barbosa has more than three million followers on Instagram, with individual pictures and videos of her work in the gym attracting tens of thousands of likes.

She also has more than five million Facebook followers, and models bikinis.

Gracyanne Barbosa shows off the tiny waist and full bottom that has earned her fans over the world
Brazilian dancer Gracyanne regularly posts pictures of her muscular body

Gracyanne Barbosa's physique is similar to Kim Kardashian's
She shows off her huge muscles in on Instagram picture

The Instagram star poses with big jars of protein that she uses in her workouts 

The Instagram star poses with big jars of protein that she uses in her workouts 

'I'm pleased that coercive control is now legally recognised and we can continue to work with partners to effectively tackle domestic abuse cases and provide the support needed to those involved.

'I would also like to praise the bravery of the woman involved in this case as well as the work of the officers, which combined has helped to bring about this successful conviction.

'If you're suffering from emotional, physical or psychological abuse, I'd encourage you to report it to someone.

'If you don't feel comfortable talking to the police, there are a wide range of support agencies and charities you can speak to.

'Please know that help is available and you do not have to suffer.'

Gemma said on today's This Morning that she is relieved about the sentence and is now getting her life back on track with the support of her friends and family.

She said: 'I feel amazing now, I have got my life back. I realise now how much he took away. 

'He took everyone anyway who was important to me and my confidence but now I have it all back.'

Following her appearance, This Morning viewers took to Twitter to praise her bravery and wish her a happier future.

Among well-wishers were Kirsty Kovacs who Tweeted: 'What a brave, beautiful girl. So glad she has been able to move on from her horrible ordeal.' 

To report domestic abuse, call police on 101, or 999 in an emergency; the National Domestic Helpline on 0808 8000247; or Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111, their lines are open on from 8pm to 8am Monday to Friday and 24 hours on the weekends

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