Almost a year ago, university student Emily Drouet took her own life. She had been suffering abuse at the hands of her boyfriend.
Her parents, Fiona and Germain, appeared on This Morning to raise awareness of the signs of domestic violence and, heartbreakingly, confessed they feel they could have prevented their daughter’s death.
Emily was an 18-year-old student of law at Aberdeen University, and started dating a young man named Angus Milligan. It was only after Emily had taken her own life that her parents found out he had physically abused their daughter.
Referencing his daughter’s sudden death Germain said, “It’s something we never saw coming,” and her mum Fiona described Emily as “bubbly” she “really, really clever”.
“She would bounce into the room and was the life and soul of every party,” she added.
Presenter Eamonn Holmes asked: “Did she change when she met this man Angus Milligan?”
Fiona replied: “Yes, but because Emily was studying at Aberdeen, which was a three hour drive away from our home, we didn’t see her every single day and I do believe if we had seen her every single day we would’ve seen the deterioration.
“But when she came back she was avoiding eye contact with us. Looking back, hindsight is a great thing, looking back you think, yeah, there were signs but we just put it down to students being tired from partying.”
The harrowing truth was that Emily was being slapped, choked and mentally abused by Angus, who pleaded guilty in court last month to three counts of assault. He was convicted of assault for an occasion when he had grabbed Emily, thrown her head down on a desk and strangled her.
Fiona said of the offence: “She feared for her life, she thought she was going to die because she saw stars.” But unfortunately Emily’s parents only found this out after she had died, and had no idea of the ordeal their daughter was going through.
It also came to light that Angus was influenced by sexual films including Fifty Shades of Grey.
“He had downloaded that and made Emily watch it, whether she agreed or not I don’t know,” she added. “But they watched that and then I think the gift that he bought her for her 18th birthday says everything about his sexual preferences.”
When Ruth asked her to describe what the gift was, Fiona said: “He bought her £200 worth of sexual restraints.
“She was very inexperienced in relationships in comparison to most of the other students.”
Although Fiona and Emily had a close relationship, Emily didn’t confide in her mother but instead spoke to friends.
When asked why she thought Emily didn’t speak to her about the abuse, Fiona said: “I think she didn’t talk to me because we focused so much on telling her how proud we were of Emily and how we loved her so much and she was amazing, what she was achieving in life was amazing.
“Her goal was to be this lawyer and live in France and she had everything mapped out, and I think she saw that plan going wrong.”
One of the last times they saw Emily, at their home, they did notice she didn’t seem like herself, as Germain recalled: “Fiona said in front of us one day, ‘You’ve lost your sparkle Emily.'”
The couple hope that by speaking out they will help to raise awareness of the signs of domestic abuse and encourage people to speak out if they are being abused.
“I just hope girls can get the strength to come forward and I understand how difficult that is,” Fiona summed up. “And I don’t think they’re told enough about the services that are out there.”