Robyn Riggans

Robyn Riggans by photographer Rachel Adams 2018

"The man who was supposed to love me became the person who abused me and then spread lies about me. Having lies told by someone so close causes a deep level of heartache. I now run a charity that supports women that have been in abusive relationships to rebuild lives and self-worth."

'The man who was supposed to love me became the person who abused me.' Robyn Riggans
Robyn Riggans portrait photographed by Rachel Adams 2018 for We are Bess
'The man who was supposed to love me became the person who abused me.' Robyn Riggans

After Robyn Riggans hit ‘rock bottom’ she walked away from her abusive relationship, and turned her life around. She set up WORTH (Women on the Road to Healing), a charity that supports women in Chesterfield who have been victims of abuse and helps churches to recognise domestic abuse. She has a BA in Theology and is currently taking an MA in Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Name smeared 

Robyn has had someone she trusted spread lies about her. Bess experienced the same at the hands of her fourth husband. 

As newlyweds in 1568, Bess’s fourth husband, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, wrote her affectionate letters in which he called his ‘sweet heart’, his ‘jewel’, and his ‘sweet true none’, (an affectionate short-hand for ‘mine own’).

A decade later George was castigating Bess as his ‘bitter enemy’, a devious and deceptive woman whose words were ‘mixed with a hidden poison’. The marriage deteriorated and George accused Bess publicly of using underhand means to take control of property that he believed was rightly his under the law of coverture. He said that she had an ‘unsatiable desire’ and ‘greedy appetite’, which was effectively accusing her of sexual impropriety.

Throughout this humiliating episode, Bess maintained her ‘innocency’ of all these charges and wrote repeatedly to her husband, and to important political figures at the royal court, declaring that she was a loyal and faithful wife. 

Portraits for We are Bess hang with the Tudor portraits in the Long Gallery at Hardwick

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See which other women have found a parallel with Bess's story