Thursday 27 October 2016

Woman tells court how father 'physically, emotionally and socially raped her' during 'war zone' childhood

Sonya McLean

Published 19/10/2015 | 17:34

A woman has said how her father's repeated abuse and rape of her as a young girl was 'a defining experience in my life that framed everything that follows and continues'.

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Rita Broderick (46), described her childhood as 'a war zone' and said the skills she used to help her survive the abuse by her father James Broderick (77) have cost her dearly in her adult life.

Broderick of Lyster Street, Athlone, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sample charges which included three rapes and three indecent assaults in the family home in Athlone on dates between January 1983 and September 1984.

Ms Broderick took the stand to read her victim impact statement.

She said that the constant abuse meant that she had to disassociate to allow her to cope and now she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder.

“I have many distinct personalities sharing my body and I am surviving that abuse for many personalities,” Ms Broderick said before she added that her father's actions 'physically, emotionally and socially raped her'.

Ms Broderick who now lives in America and made her statement of complaint to officers in Denver, Colorado, waived her right to anonymity so her father could be named in the media.

The abuse began when she was four years old and the family lived in Manchester. It continued when they moved to Athlone in Westmeath when she was 13 years old and ended when as 15-year-old she lashed out and ran from the house.

The garda investigation began after Broderick arrived at Athlone Garda Station in November 2011 to report his own abuse of his daughter.

He made a voluntary statement the following January outlining the repeated abuse and rape of his daughter in the family home from 1982 to 1984.

“The abuse is corrosive and filters down into your bones and into the soul of the victims,” Ms Broderick continued in her victim impact statement before she added that “the sexual gratifications and powerful bliss” experienced by the abuser, controls the abused for the rest of their lives.

She said the control visited upon her by her father had been “alive and well” when writing her victim impact statement and added that she is continually trying to prevent “the shadow of his bullying from attacking my resolve”.

“I hope my words have been as debilitating for my father to hear as his actions have had on my life,” Ms Broderick concluded after thanking her brother, a friend and the investigating sergeant, Andrew Haran, in the case.

Broderick also took the stand to apologise to his daughter.

“I didn't know until today that her health was so bad. I am so sorry for what I have done to you, really and truly sorry. I hope that your health can be improved in the very near future,” Broderick said before he asked his daughter to accept his “very real apology” and extended it to the rest of his family.

He was remanded in custody until November 2, next when Mr Justice Tony Hunt will pass sentence.

Mr Justice Hunt complimented Ms Broderick on “an eloquent statement” and said whether “it reaches its initial target or not”, he said he was sure it would be of great comfort to other victims in a similar position.

The judge added later that he believed there was “great courage on display” in court today and said Broderick had “left an enormous trail of damage behind him”.

Sgt Haran told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting that Broderick admitted that he “started to use Rita” in 1974 while the family were living in Manchester and after his wife had a medical procedure.

The abuse continued when they moved to Ireland with Broderick admitting to gardaí that it happened as frequently as possible and that he took every opportunity when other people were not around.

Sgt Haran said Broderick would kiss his daughter so violently that she felt suffocated and would suggest to her that it was she who had initiated the kiss. He also used plastic bags as make-shift condoms while he raped his daughter.

In 1984 Broderick went to abuse Rita but she lashed out, kicked out at him and ran out of the house. She was trying to make it to her aunt's house and made it to a friend's house en route.

She threatened to tell her mother about the abuse and Broderick didn't touch her again telling her; “It would kill your mother to hear this”

Ms Broderick, who moved to America in 1988, said her father was responsible for “most of the trauma” she had since experienced in her life and said what she has suffered had been as debilitating as “if he had put me in a wheelchair”.

She said she was unable to have children, had had an eating disorder and had problems walking because of hip dysplasia.

She acknowledge that she could not prove a link to these with her father's actions but said she felt a physical connection and her body “remembers all the abuse”.

Ms Broderick said her older brother recounted a family trip to a local shopping centre as a seven year old boy during which he dropped his father's hand when the man held it as they were crossing the road.

She said her brother had a memory from that young age of how he hated the touch of his father and he wanted to get away from him.

“I wish then and I wish today that I could pull away from his touch,” Ms Broderick said.

Ms Broderick described herself as “a classic abuse victim” who had had relationships with men similar to her father.

She said she was fortunate to have befriended people who cared for her but she felt their friendship was defined by her mental health.

She outlined how she was reliant on Medicare in America to allow her to have treatment in psychiatric hospitals but that she could not always get the care she needed when she most required it.

Ms Broderick described the abuse as having “corroded” her family's relationships and said she could not talk with her mother.

She said her father's bullying and control was also visited on her brother and sister who endured emotional abuse, but said together they had been able to repair some of that damage.

Sgt Haran agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending that his client was co-operative with the garda investigation after his son encouraged him to make admissions.

He agreed that he had not come to garda attention since 1984 and had no previous convictions. He managed to work most of his life despite having both an alcohol and gambling addiction.

Mr Gageby told Mr Justice Hunt it was a “highly unusual case” as his client had initiated the criminal process.

He suggested that if Ms Broderick had made a complaint, his client could have decided to “bluff it out” knowing that she was a vulnerable adult.

Counsel said his client separated from his wife in 1987 when the abuse was brought to her attention and he had lived alone since. 

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