Friday 21 July 2017

'I ended up in hospital covered in scabs' - abuse survivor Rosemary Adaser on life in a mother-and-baby home

Rosemary Adaser on The Late Late Show. Credit: RTE
Rosemary Adaser on The Late Late Show. Credit: RTE

Sasha Brady

Rosemary Adaser spoke about the abuse she suffered growing up mixed-race in Ireland's mother-and-baby homes and industrial schools.

Ms Adaser was born to an Irish mother, who worked as a telephonist at Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, and a black Ghanaian father, who worked as a doctor there. Shortly after her birth, her mother was forced to place her in St Clare's Convent in Stamullen, Co Meath.

In 1958, when she was just 18-months-old, Ms Adaser was admitted to a mother-and-baby home on the Navan Road in Dublin. When she was six-years-old, she was transferred to St Joseph's industrial school in Kilkenny where she suffered systematic abuse.

Speaking on Friday night's The Late Late Show, Ms Adaser gave a harrowing account of her time in industrial care.

"Life in St Joseph's industrial school was particularly brutal for me as a mixed-race child. There were so many humiliations heaped on me, so many," she said.

"I was never allowed to take a bath first. You can imagine once a week we'd have a bath, there'd be 30 girls sharing that one bath water, and I'd be the 31st. And I couldn't have a bath first because I'd dirty the water - because my skin was dirty. "

Ms Adaser outlined how she was regularly taken out of bed "in the dead of night to unblock the toilets full of excrement" on the grounds it wouldn't matter because her "skin was the same colour".

Ms Adaser's eyes welled up with tears as she recalled memories of sexual abuse.

"The message that I was a savage to be contained, to be tamed, no feelings, you could do what you like with me," she explained. "I was the butt of everybody's warped desire.

"I have clear memories of being on the floor in a fetal person and the lay person was kicking seven bells out of me and calling me every name under the sun. She only stopped when she got out of breath. I was seven at that time."

On the same day that significant quantities of human remains were discovered at the Bon Secours site excavated by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, Ms Adaser shared her own experience of being in a similar institution.

She became pregnant at 16 and was sent to a mother-and-baby home in Meath where her child was taken away from her.

"What I have is clear memories of an older woman. She'd strip me and put her gardening gloves on, go to the garden, cut a rose bush off, pick the roses off and whip me. That was a very frequent occurrence," Ms Adaser said.

"She called me disgusting, vile, rotting her bed. That experience was so bad that I ended up in hospital covered in scabs. I was so badly whipped that I had to be taken to St Kevin's Hospital."

Ms Adaser said that a shiver went up her back she she read the news of the Tuam Babies but she said that many survivors would not be suprised.

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