If I’m Lying, Come Sue Me
The Story of an Abusive Man - a long read
Whenever I caught my husband flirting, messaging other women, or cheating, he would say to me: “You knew what my job was when you met me.”
By way of explanation, his job then, and now, is the lead singer of a Britpop band called The Bluetones. His name is Mark Morriss.
I have often talked on here, or on Twitter of my abusive ex-husband, though I have never named him. I am aware, it is not difficult to put us together though. But I have a particularly important reason for naming him now: to protect other women.
For too long, he has relied on telling people that I am crazy, and lying about me. He has been gaslighting women to believe what he wanted them to, convincing them not to put the dots together and realise what a narcissistic, pathological liar and serial predator he is.
I do not use these words lightly and I will evidence why, but what I will say from the beginning is: If I’m wrong, Mark, come sue me. Because it is only defamation if it’s not true.
The sad fact is, in this world, the word of one man is believed over a woman. As we have seen in the cases of other serial predators like Noel Clarke and Weinstein, it was only when many different females came together that a newspaper would run the story. I have been a journalist my entire career and so I understand that need to secure evidence, but all that happens when you refuse to listen to one woman – when her voice is drowned out by her perpetrator – is that other women become their victims. You actually collude with that man, you become part of the problem. You become complicit in the abuse of women by not holding the men abusing them to account.
It is easy to disregard someone as a bitter ex, it is a trope men have relied on for centuries to get away with their crimes – because it works. But if you get to the end of this piece and still believe this man should not be outed, feel free to let me know.
And so, we begin.
I met Mark in August 2011. We fell in love and decided to try for a baby fairly quickly. We bought folic acid, I plotted my ovulation. It was actually his idea because he already had a three-year-old son who he adored and he wanted nothing more than to have a baby with me.
Except, when I got pregnant, he told me to have an abortion. And when I refused he left me. I do not need to tell you the ins and outs of the next nine years together, but I will share one anecdote that occured when I was heavily pregnant. I was down in Cornwall staying with his sister, shopping for baby clothes with his mum, when I got a phonecall from a friend of mine who was a reporter on the Daily Mail, a newspaper where, at the time, I was an executive editor. My friend lived in Godalming, and his wife had gone on holiday with her university friend from Winchester. The neighbour of this university friend decided to go along, too. Portugal, I believe. And once there she told a shocking story of how she needed that holiday because she’d been seeing a guy for the last three months who had been ‘fucking with her mind.’ The thing was, she felt sorry for him, because he had told her this woman had just turned up on his doorstep, six months pregnant, claiming that he was the father of her child.
”You might have heard of him,” she told her fellow travellers. “His name is Mark Morriss.”
The reason I share this anecdote in particular is because Mark has relied upon this as part of his seduction technique ever since. You will find this story a recurring theme. Narcissists love nothing more than making themselves the victim.
Suffice to say, due to his constant cheating, our relationship was on and off. He made up terrible things about me, telling his mum that I tricked him into pregnancy, telling others I was bipolar, that I was a liar so I would never be believed. This is another thing these types of men do, discredit the victim so people will never listen to her.
I forgave him so many indiscretions, I loved him, with all my heart. I knew he’d spent his life cheating but I hoped, like many women, I’d be the one he’d stay faithful to.
It was always fans. Women he met at gigs. He told them we had broken up. He told them this whole ‘she tricked me’ line to get sympathy. Or himpathy, a new word I learnt the other day. Six weeks after we got married he was in bed with another fan.
He was abusive to me too, on more than one occasion. He was finally cautioned by police for throttling me, only because I took a photo of the eight fingerprints around my neck – what a thing you should have to think of straight after an act of violence like that, but otherwise I would never have been believed. He’d been spoken to by the police before but he always told them I was lying. It was his word against mine, and… well, you know who people tend to believe, the perpetrator who said he didn’t do it. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? To quote Mandy Rice-Davies.
Mark was a tyrant in our home, he would return after a weekend of gigs and check the house: under the sofa; bottom of the fridge; the cat litter. Anything to catch me out. When he couldn’t find a speck of dust, he would accuse me of lying about cleaning. It got to the point where I would polish the back of the front door so he’d smell the scent before he crossed the threshold. But cleaning wasn’t the point, control was. The same with all these men.
It wasn’t always like this, otherwise I wouldn’t have been with him. We could be blissfully happy, but I wasn’t living a real life, because behind my back there were so many other lives he was leading.
And so now we come to the others which I’m guessing will make you more inclined to believe my story.
Women often contact me. They see my comments on Twitter and they know who I’m referring to, they come to my page for a reason. So let me share some of the things they’ve written to me. I’m going to change anything that identifies them because this man is aggressive, and they don’t need him being abusive to them. (But I repeat, for legals, I have all the names and evidence here.)
Take this fan: “I was involved with your ex, only for a few weeks, a number of years ago. I remember him telling me that he had a baby daughter with his ex so that might help work out chronology. Embarrassingly, I was one of these women who got chatting to him at one of his gigs and was a bit flattered by the attention since I was a ‘fan’. I feel quite ashamed about that now. Whilst thankfully I never saw any physically threatening behaviour from him, I definitely did feel like his behaviour was odd and a bit manipulative at times and it did leave me feeling pretty shit about myself and left me with just a little bit more evidence that I end up being attracted to men who aren’t very respectful to me.”
This made me so sad, how women blame themselves.
Let’s look at another message: “I was totally taken in by his charm and wit. I was very young, naive and impressionable, and I bloody loved him. It’s awful to think I was just one of a long line. What a vile man he is. A snake. And yes, it’s a form of abuse.”
Here’s another: “I wanted to reach out because unfortunately I know Mark, and was, at one time, in a very fucked up ‘relationship’ with him. It was before he met you (I think) but recently enough for me to still be dealing with the impact. I just wanted you to know that there is (at least) one person who understands what kind of person he is. Narcissistic doesn’t even come close. In fact, I’m sure his picture features in the DSM category on narcissistic personality disorder. He is a vile human being.”
Here’s another: “Just wanted to wave and say hi as another victim of his bullshit…After months of texting all night, every night, we met last summer and he immediately started to slag you off, I’d no idea of the situation but any man slagging off his ex is always profoundly off putting…”
And yes, he’d told her I’d tricked him into a pregnancy. It seems to be his MO to paint himself as victim, to tell these women how I tricked him into our gorgeous, clever, funny, now nine-year-old daughter, as part of his seduction technique – it doesn’t seem to matter to him that this changes how people see her. The unwanted child. And it’s not even true, except in his twisted mind.
But that last quote is important, for this reason, because it happened last year, when I was reunited with him. I still haven’t confessed to some of my friends that I gave him another chance. I was ashamed of myself. But the thing about abusive men is that they make your life so intolerable if you leave them, that you take them back, which I did, in May 2019. Our daugher, as you can imagine, was delighted to have her family back together, and we had the best year. I thought.
While the rest of the country locked down in 2020, confined to their homes, stuck in with their families, Mark was living several lives. I often questioned why he took off his wedding ring to play zoom gigs, but he told me you can’t play guitar with a ring on. When I pointed out that other guitarists did, he told me to put my dinner in some Tupperware and fuck off out of his house.
When we had reunited, I hadn’t wanted us to live together again, knowing how awful it had been when we did. Instead I thought the answer to our relationship was separate homes, and so it came as a shock in June 2020 when I turned up at his for breakfast one Sunday morning that he opened the door, let me and my daughter in and was forced to confess he had another woman in his bed. It was a devastating moment for our daughter because he denied our existence – our family – for the benefit of this woman cowering under his bedclothes.
That was that. The duplicity was not only obvious, but clearly enjoyable for him. Why did he answer the door that morning? Why did he have to let us in? Because he was excited at the thought of being caught.
This is the text message he sent me the night before at 8pm: “It would be good for me if you could truly understand that I don’t want any other woman, and stop doubting me or accusing me of sneaking around. Because it absolutely destroys me when you do. We’re always going to disagree on things, and fall out about things…. that’s human, it’s the way you make up again that is important and we’ve always been good at that. But to be constantly defending myself for crimes I haven’t committed is something else altogether. I wish you could understand how much I love you….I don’t want anybody else.”
It is sick that he composed that while waiting for a woman to arrive at his home. There is no other word for it.
That was the end of us, finally. I concentrated on mending my daughter’s broken heart. She drew pictures in black paint and labelled them: ‘Daddy’s soul.’ We had been through so much at his hands.
That Christmas 2020, I found out that Mark was involved with another woman. A single mum of two children, though I should be specific here and you’ll see why later, a boy and a girl. I felt for her, I knew what she had coming in the post. I confess, I saw her photos on Instagram, of him carving the turkey at Christmas, these two children (just one and three) on his lap. Apparently they adored him. All my friends and family felt sorry for this woman, whose name I shall protect. I would never have reached out to her, she had to find out who he was in her own time, but it killed me that by not telling her I was somehow complicit in the abuse I knew she had to come. All I could do was what I always had done, keep advocating for women’s rights, tell my story as a way of doing that, and hope she would find me if and when she needed too.
A few weeks ago, in October half term, Mark asked to take our daughter to laser tag. I asked who with, as it’s unusual for him to do anything like that with her. He replied on email, saying it was with his friend Ian and his wife, and their two children – two girls, in this instance. As a woman trained by his bad behaviour to be hypervigilant, my antenna was up. Yet when my daughter returned it turned out ‘Ian’ couldn’t make it, he had a cold, and actually the girls’ dad was called something entirely different. My daughter had questioned her father who had told her he’d never said Ian, that she must have been mistaken – he was now gaslighting her. I called him up, reminded him of the email he sent me telling me about Ian, he said it was a ‘mistype’. That didn’t explain the backstory he’d made up for Ian, that he was a schoolfriend who had his 50th birthday on the same day. Me and his mum, who was staying with me at the time, looked at each other.
‘I don’t remember a schoolfriend called Ian,’ she said.
‘Me neither,’ I replied.
I knew he was up to something, but worse, he was making my daughter complicit in it because she was thrilled at meeting these two little girls, there was talk of ‘step-sisters’.
I messaged his girlfriend on Instagram and asked her if she knew he’d gone to laser tag with this other woman and her two daughters. She did not. I messaged this other woman and asked her if she knew about his girlfriend and her son and her daughter. It transpired, she did not. The two women found each other and then they both got in touch with me. It turned out that he had started seeing one of them in January 2020, it had taken her 18 months to introduce her two girls to him. The other mum-of-two had started seeing him in March 2020. And that last quote I promised I’d come back to, that was a woman he was seducing in April/May/June 2020. And remember this whole time he was also married to me, his wife.
He had, predictably, seduced them all with this story that I had tricked him into our daughter – on each first date, in fact. He also gained their sympathy with a new line, that HE is the one who is a victim of my abuse. He even wrote a song about it, he’s given interviews promoting that song. This is all despite the fact that he is the one with the criminal record, that it was me who sought refuge with a domestic abuse charity. It is sickening that he has turned everything that he did to me into what I did to him, and that is the bait he has used to gain the trust of vulnerable women. He has stolen my story.
These two single mums have discovered that Mark has been living a double life with them for the last 18 months to two years. I have also heard of other women he had been seeing in that time. Remember as well, he is sleeping with women who have no idea he is sleeping with others. He is putting their health at risk.
Here’s what one of them wrote to me: “Hi Anna, looks like I owe you a big thank you. You put me and ******* in contact and it turns out, probably as no surprise to you, that Mark’s been living a double life…. No words to describe finding out the whole thing has been a lie.”
And here is the story from the one woman’s point of view: “I first met Mark in March 2020. We met on a zoom call with mutual friends during lockdown and afterwards, found me on Facebook and sent me a message. We swapped numbers, and started texting. Slowly at first, just little daily updates, but gradually more and more. It was a slow burn, and I was very cautious, because I was a single mother with two young children and I’d had a bad experience with my ex. I made it clear I was vulnerable and needed to take things slow. He was consideration itself. In June, he came to my birthday party. He met my friends, and was charming. He kissed me at midnight, and told me he’d come only to do that one thing. He stayed the night. He promised to come back the very next night.
He didn’t because he had a zoom gig and he was “too tired” but he came back the night after, and then again, and then again, and again. This was in the middle of the pandemic, the first lockdown had only recently been relaxed, restrictions were still in place. He was at my house three, four nights a week. I cooked him dinner, he took my bins out. He played with my children. He tucked them into bed at night, and bought them presents. He’d sit at my kitchen table, we’d listen to music long into the night, and he’d tell me stories. Stories of his crazy ex, this evil woman who was intent on destroying his life. Stories of how much he adored his children, they were his whole world.
We were so happy, or so I thought. Well into autumn and winter of 2020, we were learning about each other, learning to love each other. He was charming and funny and considerate. I was cautious but besotted.
But the crazy ex-wife kept resurfacing as a theme. She was so cruel, so unreasonable, so difficult about access. He was taking her to court as a last resort because he was desperate just to see his daughter. I used to secretly look at her Twitter, and she’d seem so calm and reasonable, and I’d shake my head to my friends and say poor Mark, poor Mark. But even then, I struggled to reconcile his story. I went to see a therapist about my trust issues, because I was having such difficulty believing that any woman, any mother, could behave so appallingly.
He spent Christmas at my house. It was lockdown again but it was fine, we were in a bubble. We opened stockings together, I cooked a roast, he carved the turkey. He bought my daughter barbie dolls, my son toy trains. He gave me gift after gift after beautiful, thoughtful, funny, perfect gift. We were supposed to have his daughter with us too, but his evil ex-wife changed plans at the last minute and withheld her. We spent New Year’s together, zooming with his friends and mine. He wrote a message to the mutual friend who introduced us: thank you so much for bringing her into my life, she’s the best present I could ever have asked for.
He suggested we live together. We looked at houses on the internet, we set up viewings. We went to see properties and discussed which bedrooms our children would have; what colour we would paint the kitchen. We talked about building a garden studio, so he could have a space to create music. We joked with our friends about the challenges of the current housing market.
We were together for 18 months. Once he started gigging again, we could see each other less, but he always came over at least once a week, and sometimes I’d go on the road to gigs with him. I met his friends, his venue managers, his promoters. We went to dinner parties together. We went on trips to the Lakes, country house weekends. He took me to Brighton for my birthday. He turned 50 in October and he and I hosted a party for all his closest friends, bandmates, everyone. I was his girlfriend, and I was happy.
But I’d never met his children. And his ex-wife was still a constant cause for concern. And every so often, there would be a little niggle – who was this fan? What was that message? And then one day, everything exploded. His ex-wife sent me a message, she tried to tell me he was seeing another woman, had introduced his children to her. I was fiercely, immediately loyal. I rejected it out of hand. I looked at the other woman’s Instagram – there was nothing about Mark – it was fine. He swore to me that Anna was lying, that she was trying to sabotage us, that he was telling the truth, that the other woman was just a random fan he’d bumped into at laser tag with his kids during half term. He wrote: “I love you, Laurie. You have nothing to worry about at all.” I believed he was telling the truth.
That week, we took my children to their school fireworks on Friday night. He bought them hot chocolate, and carried my son in his arms. Afterwards, we gave them to my dad to babysit, and took a much-needed night off to go have a raucous, happy dinner with several other school couples we were good friends with. We stayed the night at a romantic little pub, told each other we loved each other. He was going to spend Christmas with our family, we'd drive up to my parents' place in the afternoon and stay till Boxing Day. We'd been invited to a dinner party with friends for New Year's Eve. We had tickets for Duran Duran next June. It was all so normal, so loving, so long-term.
But he wasn’t telling the truth. The other woman found me. Mark was all over my Instagram, so she had no such protection. She called me, and the whole horrible, crumbling edifice finally collapsed. He’d been living a double life for years. The whole time he’d been with me, he’d been with her. Loving her kids. Taking her presents. Sending her flowers. He’d copy and paste messages to both of us so he didn’t slip up and make a mistake. His ex-wife had been telling the truth from the start.
He ruined two lives, two families, four children. He left my daughter bereft, and my son confused. He left me struggling to function, struggling to breathe, struggling to understand how the world even worked anymore. And he just walked away, without a backward glance.”
And here is the story from the other woman: “I have been a Bluetones fan since the first time I heard Slight Return on the Chart Show in 1996. I had their poster on my bedroom wall. I have probably seen them more times than any other band. I have a scrap book full of gig tickets. I reviewed a gig of theirs for my local paper in 2000. Whilst at University in 2003 I managed to arrange an interview with Mark for my student radio show and excitedly met him for the first time. He was funny and charming, just like he was on stage.
Life moves on, fast forward to 2019. I was now a divorced, single mother of two girls. Mark was playing a solo set at a local venue and I went along with old school friends. After the gig I went over to chat to Mark as he sold merch and I felt like we hit it off, sensed there was chemistry. The crush was reignited and I even messaged him on Instagram the next day and then quickly unsent the message feeling foolish. Less than two months later, in Dec 2019, I had tickets to attend a Britpop-themed Bottomless Brunch that Mark was playing at. I had resolved that, if I had the chance, I would talk to him again, suss out whether he was single and if he was I would suggest dinner or a drink. Mark was pleased to see me again and after a general chat I plucked up the courage to ask if he was single. He confirmed that he was, although going through the formalities of a divorce. He asked where I lived and we established we were only about 40 mins away from each other. We both had two children of similar ages. It felt like this was worth a shot. He told me to message him on Facebook and we’d sort out a suitable date and time. Three weeks went by and I had resolved that he had probably just been polite, but wasn’t interested after all. I was still happy that I had been brave enough to take a chance. Then the reply came. Mark apologised for the delay, but he’d been working and then busy with the kids over Christmas. He said that he would still very much like to see me and we arranged to meet on the South Bank a week later. I stood waiting for him in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall and I was so nervous when I saw him picking his way through the crowd towards me. We found somewhere for dinner and shared our stories with each other, primarily our divorces and the circumstances. We poured it all out to each other and Mark told me all about his crazy ex whom he’d had a whirlwind romance with and had fallen pregnant within three months of meeting (he would continue adding to this narrative throughout our time together, telling me how she had tricked him into having a baby). It was a lovely night, conversation flowed effortlessly. When it came time to part ways and get our trains home I was walking on air. We messaged each other on the journey home and planned our next date. As a single mum, my availability isn’t great. I had every other weekend and every other Thurs to myself, but Mark was super patient and understanding. He was a single parent too and had a busy job. I remember in that January and February thinking he was quite flaky. We’d make plans to meet and then something would come up for him with the kids or with work, but I knew what it could be like as my own availability was so limited and so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He would invite me to meet him for dinner before a gig if it was in London/South East, I’d stay on for the gig too as I enjoyed watching him perform. Due to time constraints these tended to be the nature of our dates for a while, but we were getting some time together, getting to know each other. When March came around concerns around COVID were starting to loom. Mark was going to be moving from his flat to a house and was occupied with packing and moving. The messages had started to wane and I remember telling a close friend that I thought maybe it wasn’t going anywhere after all. We then went into lockdown and so I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to put all this on ice anyway. Mark started messaging again, sending me a video tour of his new house and explaining that he’d been very preoccupied with the move. We stayed in touch, we had a couple of ‘remote dates’ where we’d watch a movie and message each other during. It was hard work keeping things going under lockdown and I started to feel maybe it wasn’t the right time. As things started to calm down a bit Mark started driving over to meet for a socially distanced walk. I actually enjoyed the slow pace and felt like we were really getting to know each other. By late May we had decided that we could be a bubble and we started spending time together when neither of us was looking after kids. Mark stayed at mine and I stayed at his. One Saturday in early June I drove to Mark’s, arriving about 8pm. He had cooked us dinner and we stayed up into the early hours listening to music and chatting, as we loved to do. On Sunday we were woken by a knock at the door. Mark said he assumed it was a delivery and went to take a look. He ran back into the bedroom looking pale and said that it was actually Anna and his daughter. I wasn’t sure what the panic was, although obviously it would be a bit awkward meeting for the first time like this. Mark went down and opened the door. I could hear Anna saying that she’d brought breakfast for them and that G wanted to grab something from her bedroom. I then heard Mark say that G couldn’t go upstairs right now. Anna asked why and Mark told her that he had someone here. That’s when everything exploded. I didn’t see anything; I was stood against the bedroom wall shaking and confused. Anna was on the stairs screaming at me and at Mark. I heard glasses being smashed. G was asking her dad to let her mum go so they could leave. The whole thing was harrowing. Anna and G left and Mark came upstairs. I was still shaking and asked if I’d misunderstood his situation, and ours. He said that I hadn’t misunderstood, but that he hadn’t given me the full picture. I didn’t understand and he didn’t offer any explanation; he just stripped the bed and then went to clear up the broken glass. I decided to leave.
Mark messaged the next day. He apologised profusely for involving me in that situation. Apparently he and Anna had started to get close again recently and he felt that he owed it to his daughter to see whether it could possibly work. He said that they had already started to slip back into negative patterns and that he knew it wasn’t going to work. He said that he was going to take time to get his head straight and reflect on why he had done what he’d done. He said he recognised how selfish he’d been.
I decided to draw a line under it and move on. I even went on a few socially distanced dates with different people during that summer and early autumn. Mark and I did exchange a few messages over that time, just checking that the other was doing ok.
In November 2020 the messages started picking up again and we decided to meet up and talk through what had happened. Mark took responsibility for his actions, but told me that Anna had deliberately set up that June morning to catch him out. She had sent someone round as surveillance the Saturday evening and then ambushed us Sunday. He had described how he’d had to hold her back from getting up the stairs to me, how he was worried for my safety. I took his word for it as I hadn’t seen anything, only heard the commotion. I couldn’t believe that she had deliberately brought G with her – what a monster to put your daughter through that. It all fitted in with the previous and regular stories that he had told me about this difficult, bitter, manipulative woman who used their daughter against him. Mark had only done what he had done out of desperation to maintain his relationship with his daughter. I cautiously forgave him and decided to give him a second chance. We saw each other a few times in November and December and it felt like we were starting again. When we headed back into lockdown in January 2021, we decided to reinstate our bubble so that we could still see each other. I started to talk to my kids about ‘my friend Mark’ and then gradually told them that I liked him as more than a friend. As restrictions started to ease and Mark could start gigging again we knew we might see less of each other, but if I was free he would invite me to join him. In July, Mark told me that he was falling for me and said that he’d love to meet my kids. I had already told him that I would only ever introduce someone to them if it was serious, so he knew the significance. On the day of the Euro final we met for lunch in a pub midway between us both, neutral territory to help make the kids comfortable. He brought them both presents and insisted on paying for our lunch. We headed home separately so that he could watch the football with his son. After that, Mark would often pop over and take me and the kids to dinner on a Sunday evening. They loved spending time with him, showing them how they were both getting on with their guitar lessons.
When August came around Mark was off on tour with The Bluetones. I had accepted that I probably wouldn’t see him for a month, but was so happy when he made time to prioritise us. He still came round on those Sunday evenings, often after very long drives home the day after a gig at a faraway venue. When the band played their London date Mark put me and my best friend on the guest list. I met him for dinner beforehand and then introduced him to my best friend over drinks before heading to the venue.
After the tour finished Mark suggested that we should plan for a holiday, just the two of us. He’d be away supporting Shed Seven for all of December and so the holiday would make up for lost time. We started talking about a long weekend and started planning. We then settled on a week in Portugal, flying out on New Year’s Day. Mark booked it all; he insisted that it would be his treat.
In October, Mark told me that he loved me and I said it back. He said that he wanted me to meet his kids in the half term and so I booked a day out doing laser tag for both our families. Mark’s daughter and my youngest were the same age and Mark told her that she’d get on great with G. We were all so excited to meet. He’d also asked if I would go on holiday with him and the kids the following Easter holidays. I felt so secure if our relationship, he was clearly committed to a future with me.
Mark’s 50th birthday was coming up and I booked tickets to a show in London and booked us a nice hotel. I wanted to make an effort for his birthday and make it special, as it didn’t sound like anyone else had planned anything for him. On the birthday itself I took the day off work and drove over to spend the day together. We went out for lunch and then I headed home as he went to pick his kids up from school.
Our meet in half term went really well. As predicted my youngest and his daughter hit it off. They exchanged social media details and begged us to organise another meet soon. The next day my girls headed off for a long weekend with their dad. G messaged my daughter on TikTok, which is on my phone as I supervise it. I messaged back that A was away, but would get back to her on her return.
That same weekend Mark was quite busy catching up with friends. On the Saturday evening he had told me he was having a meal with an old school friend, Ian, with whom he shared his birthday. I messaged him before I headed out for my own evening that he should enjoy the extended birthday celebrations. On the Sunday I woke up to a message saying that it turned out the meal had been a ruse and that he’s walked into a surprise birthday party. Part of me was happy that his friends had made the effort after all, but mostly I was hurt that I must not have been deemed important enough to invite. As time went on my thoughts started to go all over the place and insecurities crept in. Had it not actually been a surprise and had he not wanted me there? If it had been a surprise why didn’t his friends know or care to invite me?
After the weekend, the kids were home and A enthusiastically replied to G. On Wednesday morning I woke to a private message in my Instagram from Anna. She had been horrified to find that a random woman had been messaging her daughter. She asked whether I knew that Mark had a girlfriend who had two young children. She clearly just thought I was a random female fan who had recently rocked up. I didn’t reply, I knew better than to reply to the crazy ex. I took a screenshot of the message and sent it to Mark. He responded that Anna was trying to sabotage his happiness, that she was just bitter. I specifically asked about the reference to the girlfriend, as Anna had given me a name. Mark explained that she was simply an old friend who Anna had always had a baseless issue with. It fitted in with her previous behaviour as described by him and so I chose to believe him. I told Mark that I thought it best that he properly fill Anna in on who I was, how we were in a long term relationship etc. I said that I understood her concern if she really thought that I was just a random female fan, and that telling her about me would also set her straight on the other woman she thought to be Mark’s girlfriend. The message had rattled me though and I couldn’t shake off a horrible feeling of trepidation all week.
Mark came over on the Saturday, we went out for dinner and he brought up the message from Anna and apologised again for her unreasonable reaction. I decided to bring up my concerns about the surprise 50th birthday party, which he addressed without skipping a beat. He assured me that it absolutely was a surprise and that Eds’ wife had organised it (along with Ian and his wife, the old school friend who shared his birthday). He said that Eds never picks up on any important details, and despite Mark definitely talking about me Eds would have neglected to mention it to his wife. I couldn’t be mad about it as it hadn’t been Mark’s fault, and I was sure in time I’d meet everyone, plenty of time for that. He told me that I could always share my concerns with him, that I was in ‘safe hands’. We started to talk about how we would spent Christmas together, how he’d be with his kids until 6pm and then drive over and join us. We were looking forward to our holiday too, a quiet night in on New Year’s Eve due to an early flight the next morning, but it would be worth it for an uninterrupted week together. The following Tuesday Mark came over to join me and the girls for the evening attending their school’s fireworks display. The four of us wandered around, hand-in-hand, saying hi to other school parents, the girls pointing out ‘mummy’s boyfriend’ to their friends. That was the last time I saw Mark.
On Friday morning that same week I noticed that someone had viewed my Instagram story that I didn’t know. I clicked on her profile out of curiosity to be met with pictures of her with Mark, her kids with Mark, her in Mark’s house, in Mark’s bed. The pictures went back and back. She was at the same London Bluetones gig as me. She mentioned him as her boyfriend. I called him immediately and told him I knew. He denied it instantly saying she wasn’t his girlfriend, that they were close but that she misunderstood, he loved me, and his feelings for me were real. I decided to cut out the middle man and called her. Together, over the next hour, we painfully unpicked the last 18 months. If he’d lied about this, what else had he lied about? I resolved to message Anna. I was met with compassion as well as her righteous anger on my behalf. Talking to Anna I further established that she and Mark had still been together, married and as a family when I had asked him back in December 2019 if he was single – that they had been together until that fateful morning in June 2020.
As I wrote this I thought, what a dull and mundane story, it just reads of two people dating, getting to know each other, falling in love and starting to intertwine their lives. Mark wasn’t aggressive towards me; he was kind, caring and fun. Except it was all a lie. I was led to believe that I was in a committed monogamous relationship. He involved my children in that lie. My children were left confused, hurt and let down. They had opened their hearts to him too and saw him and his children in their future. I gave him plenty of opportunities to tell me that he was seeing other people. We had that conversation; both of us stating we were only seeing each other that we both only wanted to see each other.”
These two women, and their children, are broken as I write this. They are piecing together the reality of these fake lives they’ve both been living. The holiday he’d booked with one in January, the promises to both of them had he was going to spend Christmas with them, the dates he said he was having an evening to himself when actually he was with the other, the lunches with one, the dinners with the other on the same day, the fact he had them both at the same London gig. The friends and band members each (or both) of them met. The lies and lies and lies and lies and lies he told them about me. They see now that I am none of the things that he described me to be. They see that I am not crazy, that I am not a liar, that he is not a victim, that he is a serial perpetrator.
And that is why, at the beginning, I said it was so important for me to write this: to protect other women.
Behind these women, there will be others. In front of them, there will be more. This man is a serial predator who uses his job as a way to prey on women. They are flattered to have the attention of a man who was once on Top of the Pops, who is the frontman of a band. None of them would sleep with him if they knew the truth about who he is and who else he has been sleeping with. He lies to women to get them to have sex with him.
Mark uses women, and he gains their sympathy by convincing them that I am crazy and he is a victim – this is very typical perpetrator behaviour. It disgusts me that I am used as bait, not just to these women, but to men too. Mark has isolated me from friends, from his family, by telling them stories about me that are simply not true.
These women will be fine eventually. They are strong, intelligent, beautiful, and they will move on once their hearts have healed and hopefully they will trust again. Because this guy is a one off, a malignant narcissist, I know most other men are not predators like him. He works in an industry that is complicit in the abuse of women, his band members, the fans – especially the female fans – they know what Mark is like. Those who haven’t questioned his narrative have enabled him in his abuse of women. Where is the sisterhood? All of those women, and men, should hang their heads in shame. Look at what they turn their faces from just to be friends with someone in a band? They don’t care about our pain, or the pain of our children, as long as they get free gig tickets. It is pathetic. They are pathetic. Though not as pathetic as him. As these women have comforted themselves, they will move on, but Mark will always be Mark.
So many people dismiss the frontman of a band who cheats, they say the women who love them should expect it. As Mark said to me: “You knew what my job was when you met me.”
And I’ve been a journalist my whole life, I call out injustices, I write about them, I hold people accountable for their actions. So I’ve got one thing to say in reply: “And you knew mine.”
* I gave Mark the opportunity for a right of reply but none was forthcoming.
** This essay was updated on Nov 24th to include the second woman’s story.
*** On March 2, more than three months after I published this blog, Mark released a statement which, if anything, confirmed most of what I have written here. For good measure, he also excused his behaviour by repeating claims that I abused him. I have never been spoken to by the police for abusing Mark, I have no criminal record and neither have I ever been arrested and cautioned for abusing Mark. What he wrote was extremely ill-advised and highly libellous. But, it is also typical perpetrator behaviour, and confirms again much of which I have written here. I hope people will learn more about gaslighting having read his statement and understand better what women who have suffered abuse must endure. I have taken action.
****From us three women: “Since this story was made public we have received so many messages from other women who have been involved with Mark both recently and over the years. It has been shocking to read the impact that he has had on each of them. For all those that have made contact we know there are many who don’t feel able. We only made this public to warn others, to try and protect others. We never set out to ruin Mark, this wasn’t revenge. Mark’s own actions have led him to serious consequences that even we did not anticipate.
“We have also heard from other women, women who weren’t in relationships with men who had any type of status, but they were also hurt in similar ways, they have never been able to speak up and so, our story meant something to them too. We have held each other up through this time that we did not ask for and did not want. What has come out of this are real feelings of friendship, compassion and loyalty, a genuine sense of sisterhood, of women supporting women.
“But it shouldn’t have taken the three of us speaking out for one woman to be believed. Again, we plead, believe women.”
Written to his agent. Not booking him again.
Old Cinema Launderette
I am so proud of you for sharing your truth. I am so proud of you for putting yourself out there to support these other two women whom you didn't know. I am so proud of you as a strong amazing mum. I am so proud of how you fight injustices and women's equalities for us all. You are my role model. Love your little sis x