(File image) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Throughout their ill-fated marriage, an all-controlling Tom Cruise is said to have dictated what Katie Holmes should wear and even which friends she should see.

As his wife became more and more subdued, a shadow of her former bubbly self, her father — a lawyer who has helped mastermind her application for divorce — is said to have asked: “What happened to my little girl?”

What indeed?

And yet who can blame her for falling for a man who at the time was the most powerful star in Hollywood? Cruise is rich, handsome and, above all, controlling — a trait Holmes seems to have mistaken for love.

It’s an easy enough error: there are plenty of women who still long for a strong, handsome alpha male to come along and take charge of their lives for them.

They yearn for a man who, rather like the hero of the best-selling book, Fifty Shades Of Grey, is commanding, but who never forces them to do anything they don’t want to do; a man who takes charge without ever becoming domineering or a bully.

This perfect man, in case you’re wondering, also always holds the door open, is never smothering or patronising, always notices a new haircut and wouldn’t dream of saying: “Do you think it’s wise to have another glass?”

And guess what? This paragon doesn’t exist. So beware the Prince Charming who puts you on a pedestal and announces his love for you to the whole world. It may seem intoxicating at the time — but it won’t be long before it becomes merely toxic, as he tries to take over your life.

Some years ago, a friend met just such a man — and, like Katie Holmes, fell instantly in love.

He took her to the best restaurants and showered her with champagne and compliments. She thought she’d found her soulmate — but within a matter of months things began to turn sour. He started denouncing her for living in an unfashionable area of London, became increasingly possessive and even criticised how she dressed. (The worst was “You look like a waitress,” when she turned up in a black skirt and a white shirt).

My confident, popular friend became increasingly submissive and timid. It was only when one concerned friend suggested she read Sandra Horley’s book Power And Control: Why Charming Men Can Make Dangerous Lovers that she finally realised his behaviour towards her was a form of abuse, and summoned the courage to leave him.

According to Horley, who’s spent 20 years helping victims of domestic violence, men with a tendency to abuse women are easily spotted. “They’re usually the life and soul of the party — the outgoing man who loves to be the centre of attention,” she says.

“Often their partner will change their behaviour and become submissive and timid. Domestic violence isn’t always about physical abuse. Emotional abuse can be just as devastating.”

Who knows exactly what went on in the Hollywood mansion Katie Holmes shared not just with her Scientologist husband and daughter Suri, but also Cruise’s mother, sister and two children from his marriage to Nicole Kidman?

What we do know is that, as a mother who rarely sees her older children, Kidman has paid a terrible price for being swept off her feet by Cruise all those years ago. Katie Holmes is doing all she can to avoid a similar fate with little Suri. I fervently hope she succeeds.

- Daily Mail