Abuse scars woman through the decades

IT WAS almost 30 years ago that an Ipswich woman summoned up every ounce of courage she had to break a horrific cycle of child abuse.Her revelations ripped her family apart and now, aged 55, she is still struggling to cope with every day life.

By Jessica Nicholls

IT WAS almost 30 years ago that an Ipswich woman summoned up every ounce of courage she had to break a horrific cycle of child abuse.

Her revelations ripped her family apart and now, aged 55, she is still struggling to cope with every day life.

Sue (not her real name) thought the nightmare would be over once she confided in someone about the close relative who had abused her until she was 14, destroying her trust in anyone she was to meet.

But the nightmare was just beginning – some family members turned against her and she is now struggling to come to terms with the frustrating length of time that it takes for cases such as these to come to court.

Sitting in her living room in her Ipswich home, her face remains composed as she talks of the person who destroyed her entire life, but inside she is churning with anger and bitterness.

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The child abuse may have ended when she was 14 but the effects it has had on her life have been far reaching.

She has attempted suicide twice and had three nervous breakdowns. Although she was the victim, she feels guilt for letting some members of her family down by not telling them of the abuse for so long.

She cannot hold down a full time job because she could not take the stress and suffers from panic attacks and depression.

After three years of counselling she decided it was time to bring her torment out in the open.

It took a huge amount of courage for her to finally report the matter to the police a few years ago to try and bring her evil abuser to justice

Throughout her life she had been running away – from care homes and eventually from her husbands because she could not cope with life.

But she decided it was time she stopped running and faced up to what had happened to her.

She said: "I was just sitting there one night and my hand went to the phone and I called the police.

"I had made up my mind."

Married twice, she now lives alone and believes the break ups are a direct result of the atrocities she suffered as a child.

She said: "I got married the first time when I was 17 – I was very young.

"He was a lot older than me and so was my second husband."

Her first husband was a lodger with someone she knew and showed her the kindness she so desperately needed.

But the marriage eventually broke up and she left her four children with him as she had nowhere to go.

Her marriage to her second husband broke up when the revelations of the abuse came to light.

She said: "He was very, very angry with me that I had not told him.

"Maybe I did not tell him because I knew what reaction I would get.

"He could not cope with it.

"Although there were some other factors in the break up of my both my marriages, what happened to me had a lot to do with it."

Her children are now grown up and are at University – they are a great source of pride to her.

She said: "I have never been able to do anything with my life because of what happened.

"I just seem to have been on hold all my life."

It was only when she was a teenager that she realised what had been happening to her was wrong.

She said: "It was not until I was with the other girls at school and they were talking about their boyfriends that I realised.

"What they were doing with their boyfriends was being done to me by a relative."

Desperately shy at school she found it difficult to trust anyone having been let down by both men and women in her short life.

She said: "There was never anyone I could talk to back then, I felt so alone."

Today she has very few friends and tears spring to her eyes when she talks about the close friends she does have, telling how they have supported her in some of the darkest moments of her life.

Time is supposed to be a great healer but as the days, months and years go on, she cannot put behind her what happened.

Her grandchildren mean the world to her and she finds herself becoming obsessively protective.

She said: "They were playing one day and someone started swearing at them for something they had done.

"I could not help but think – had he been standing there watching them playing.

"It seems to be getting worse as I get older."

For now though, she is trying to take things day by day, desperate to see justice served on the relative who has ruined her life.

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