Tuesday 17 October 2017

Exclusive: 'My entire community turned on me' - Abuse victim reveals impact of naming sex offenders

'Alarm bells had gone off over the previous 36 hours as the girl's legal team went to court to seek to have the detention order removed as it was interfering with her Constitutional right to travel' (stock photo)
'Alarm bells had gone off over the previous 36 hours as the girl's legal team went to court to seek to have the detention order removed as it was interfering with her Constitutional right to travel' (stock photo)

Sasha Brady

A woman, whose father sexually abused her as a child, has spoken about the impact naming and shaming sex offenders has on their victims as she describes how her entire community turned against her family when her father's crimes came to light.

The mother-of-two, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Independent.ie that her father systematically abused her for 11 years. It started when she was just four-years-old and continued until she was 13.

He was convicted in 2009 when sisters from her father's first marriage came forward to speak about the similar abuse they had suffered.

When he was sentenced to prison, his daughter had hoped her suffering would end. But she was then subjected to a different sort of abuse as her community turned against her when they discovered what he did.

"It happened overnight. I was even told to take my child out of school as parents complained to social services," she said.

"My son doesn't go outside the garden. Our nextdoor neighbour, a grown man, barks at us like a dog every time he sees us."

Today it was revealed that there are 120 sex offenders living in communities across the Ireland. There is currently no law in place to disclose to the public the addresses of freed sex offenders.

While there are calls to change this, the woman spoke about the dangers of exposing these details and how it can put the families of the abuser at risk of vigilante abuse.

Read more: 120 released sex offenders living among communities

When her father's crimes were exposed, it impacted her ability to maintain a job. A trained psychologist, the neighbourhood taunts followed her from her estate to her workplace.

"The neighbours spread the story to the centre, they complained about me working there. They even called me a paedophile," she said.

Unable to cope with the harassment and complaints, she left her job shortly after and has been unable to return to work since.

"I ended up suffering a nervous breakdown last August. I just couldn't cope with it anymore."

She believes her son and daughter aren't as social as they should be because they've been isolated from the community.

"Nobody in the area is allowed speak to my son. He doesn't understand, he thinks it's because he has autism," she said.

"I don't want to explain to my son what's going on. He doesn't need to know. He's a wonderful kid, he doesn't deserve it. My daughter has been happier since she went to college and is surrounded by more open-minded people. She loves college.

"Even though our neighbours have unfairly targeted us all, even my partner, we have stuck together as a family. We're very close."

But she no longer speaks with her mother and said her father's crimes have ripped her family apart.

"My mother maintains he was innocent. We no longer speak. One of my sisters moved away and cut us off. These crimes have had a ripple effect on the entire family. It has broken us up.

"He has never shown remorse for what he did."

The family would love to start over where nobody knows of her father's crimes but she said that it's not possible as they can't afford to move away.

"I would love to go but we just can't afford to move away. We feel so alone here and nobody is supporting us because nobody dares go against the greater community.

"People don't realise the impact naming and shaming these offenders has on their victims. No one tells that story and I'm sure there are others like me living in fear of their own community.

"It's not my fault. I shouldn't be blamed and neither should my children."

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact the National Freephone Helpline on 1800341900 and the Women's Aid website can be found here.

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