A FORMER Love Island contestant has revealed how her life spiralled out of control after she was portrayed as an “aggressive monster” on the show, aged only 19.
Bethany Rogers, now 26, who took part in the first ever season of the ITV reality show, told how she lost her “self worth” after being relentlessly trolled by fans – ending up in a violent relationship and becoming addicted to ketamine as she struggled to cope.
Bethany Rogers has spoken out about the years of hell she endured after she left Love Island
Bethany on Love
Island in 2015
Bethany alleges she was badly beaten by her ex boyfriend
Bethany in hospital at the height of her addiction
The mum-of-one was accused then acquitted of money laundering in a court case that spanned four years, which finally concluded last week at Bradford Magistrates Court, where she was given an absolute discharge on one remaining count of possessing 134mg of ketamine.
It was a charge that should have been dealt with a caution years ago, her lawyer said in court.
Now breaking her silence in an exclusive interview with HOAR, Bethany has told how she felt she “lost everything” after going on Love Island.
“I’m not ashamed of the truth anymore I have been through hell and managed to survive,” she said.
Bethany was a dancer, performer and fire breather in and around Leeds when she got contacted out of the blue by producers on Facebook and asked to audition for a new reality show called Love Island.
Naive and convinced it would excel her career, she agreed.
Bethany didn’t make it to the starting line up as expected, but was asked to be a “late arrival” on the show – and says she was ordered to “stir up trouble”.
“I remember being about to board the plane at Leeds Bradford airport when one of the producers rang me and said: ‘Beth, you know what you’ve got to do – there’s no point you coming if you’re not going cause a stir in the villa,” she said.
“I was so naive. I didn’t know what I walked into.
“Then they put me on set late at night when everybody was really intoxicated. I was on standby for more than 12 hours – I didn’t know what was going on.
“One girl was so drunk she’d thrown up all over herself and they weren’t able to show her on camera. It was just chaos throughout the villa.
“I’d not been in there long when one girl came and had a go at me for a comment I’d made to another contestant. It went from zero to a hundred in the space of 15 minutes.
“The way she came at me, it really got my defenses up.
“I quickly realised this show is nothing to do with finding love. They were just pitting the Islanders against each other.
“Producers would come in everyday and direct us to talk to a certain person – to stir the pot. They were manipulating us to fit their narrative.
“But what wasn’t shown on TV is that despite all of that, we all actually got on really well. We had an absolute ball and it was an experience of a lifetime – but none of that was shown.
“I left there on good terms with everybody. I have a lot of respect for my fellow islanders.
“But everything shown of me was negative and aggressive.”
Bethany was kicked off the show after 10 days – and recalls how she was stunned to open her phone and find hundreds of vile and abusive messages from trolls.
She said: “There was so much trolling and malicious remarks, even death threats. I was literally shocked when I watched the show and saw how I’d been portrayed. They’d made me out to be so aggressive.
“There was no aftercare that I was aware of at that time – no one called to see if I was ok.
“Even old school friends who I hadn’t spoke to in years, or people I didn’t even know, were writing detrimental things about me that affected my mental health.
“I know I have a big heart. I’m not evil. I’m not nasty. I’ve got a lot of love to give. I’m not this monster that they made me out to be. I’m certainly not a bully. I just felt so betrayed by the whole scenario. I was still only a teenager.”
Not long afterwards, while Bethany was still feeling low, she began a relationship with Laurence Edwards, a man who she alleges soon became violent and abusive towards her.
It was Edwards that she ended up on money laundering charges with in 2019, after she was accused of jointly buying an Audi A3 using criminal money.
“At the time I was very vulnerable after coming off the show and Laurence knew that,” Bethany said.
‘VIOLENCE AND ABUSE’
“He beat me regularly for over a year. He domestically abused me to the point that I felt I had to run for my life.
“The last time he abused me, he told me that the only way I was leaving his house was in a body bag and I ran through neighbour’s gardens and called the police, my clothes were ripped.
“I have pictures of black eyes, bit marks, bruises, bust lips.
“Police wanted me to press charges against him for domestic violence but at the time I just wanted to get away from him. I was scared of him.
“I didn’t want it to get out because I’d been in Love Island and didn’t want to be known for getting beaten up.
“As much as I was the victim, I was ashamed and embarrassed that I’d let myself get into this rut, where he’d beat me up and then I’d take him back.”
Court reports show Edwards has a long rap sheet, with Bradford Crown Court hearing during a 2016 trial for racially abusing a garage worker, that Edwards had 15 convictions for 24 offences, including robbery, burglary and violence against against women.
Other sources who saw Bethany’s injuries at the time and were in contact with police, confirmed her story. HOAR has also seen several messages from time time confirming the violence took place.
Edwards declined to comment despite being contacted by HOAR multiple times.
In 2018, even though she had split up with Edwards, she was arrested and accused of money laundering offences alongside him.
Bethany felt so stressed about the looming court case – as well as isolated after escaping her relationship, she fell into addiction.
“It’s difficult to talk about but after everything that happened I became addicted to ketamine,” she said.
“I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself, but I just felt like I couldn’t lose anything else because I already lost my reputation from being on the show, I had the trauma of this abusive relationship.
“I felt like I was a massive disappointment. I felt embarrassed of myself and I shouldn’t have felt like that. I lost all my self worth over 10 days in a TV show and an abusive partner.
“I had everything taken away from me over the space of three years. It was hell.”
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM
Bethany became pregnant and gave birth to a little girl – and realised she needed to get help to overcome her addiction.
“I was depressed, I was suicidal. I knew that if I didn’t get help I’d be dead,” Bethany recalls.
“I felt so selfish having to leave my nine-month-old baby but the harsh truth was that if I didn’t go to rehab she wouldn’t have a mother for the rest of her life.
“It broke my heart having to leave my baby girl, it was mental torture. But I didn’t want to lose her. I checked myself into rehab and that’s when I realised this is not rock bottom – I can still pull it back.”
The charges against Bethany were dropped in 2020 and her case finally concluded last week. Edwards changed his plea to guilty on the charges of perverting the course of justice and acquiring or using criminal property in November 2020 and is yet to be sentenced, Bradford Crown Court confirmed.
Bethany is now studying psychology at Bradford University – and wants to help other people who have experienced trauma like she has.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
“I left school with no GCSEs but I got into university because of what I’ve experienced and that’s something to be proud of,” she said.
“I think there’s such a stigma around addiction that people don’t want to admit to it but it could be somebody homeless on the street, or the multi billionaires I was in rehab with, people who had everything and more.
“It’s not a choice, when I was a child and somebody asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I never replied with ‘an addict’, I wanted to be a barrister.
“It’s a disease, which ultimately results in jails, institutions or death, the sooner you ask for help, admit that you have a problem, the greater chance you have of being able to process your trauma and move on with your life.
“Now I’m focusing on making a future for me and my little girl.”
Bethany with a bust lipShe alleges this injury was caused by Edwards dragging her along the stairs and floor
Bethany with a black eye
Another black eye she alleges she got from Laurence Edwards
Bethany claims these bite marks were from her exA swollen lip following an alleged violent episode with her ex
Bethany with fellow Love Island contestant Jon Clarke
Bethany and her fellow series one Love Islanders
Bethany says she regrets going on the show
Laurence Edwards leaving court in Bradford
Bethany performing as a fire eater before entering Love IslandBethany, pictured before entering the show, said she had no idea what to expect from Love Island
Bethany winning the Miss Leeds beauty pageant
Bethany is now loving life and studying psychology at university
Bethany with her little girl, now aged four
Holly says he daughter has helped get her through the tough times and turn her life around