Friday 15 November 2019

Brave Sonya Stokes sought justice after her abuser contacted daughter

Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court
Pic: Court Collins.
Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court Pic: Court Collins.
Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court Pic: Court Collins.

David Kearns

Rape survivor Sonya Stokes was compelled to speak out when her abuser tried to get her daughter to visit him.

Ms Stokes said she was committed to seek justice when she discovered that her teenage daughter had been contacted by her uncle Joseph Hogan, jailed on Monday for 15 years.

The 61-year-old was convicted of eight counts of raping and sexually assaulting his niece when she was aged between seven and eleven.

“He was living in the UK and so would speak to my mother a lot, who, of course, didn’t know what he had done to me," said the 37-year-old, who is urging other abuse victims to come forward.

“But then my daughter asked me one day did she have a passport. I asked ‘why do you need one?’ and she said Uncle Joe had asked her to come over. That’s when I lost the plot.”

Read More: I have tears inside that can fill ocean: rape victim

Speaking on Newstalk’s Lunchtime, Ms Stokes said in that moment everything that had happened to her came flooding back as she feared what could have happened to her daughter.

"Victims like myself should have nothing to be ashamed of. After all, it was [our] innocence that was stolen."

Revealing the details of the abuse to her family, she said it had been "a very hard thing to do because it torn the family apart”.

“A lot of relatives didn’t believe me at first but now, I hope, they do. If anyone is holding back from speaking out because of who it might hurt, I beg and plead with them to speak up and look for justice.”

"Please come forward, seek justice. You will never be able to erase the past," she added.

Ms Stokes said every bone in her body shook when she heard the eight guilty verdicts read out in court on Monday.

Despite describing the experience of being in the witness box as “like being raped all over again”, she insisted the ordeal had been worth it.

“Even getting him extradited from the UK was justice in itself. I might have been a little girl but I wanted him to know that I hadn’t forgotten what he had done all those years ago.”

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