'Sentencing for paedophiles is a joke' - survivor on the devastating and lasting impact of child abuse
I am writing this letter in response to the sentence handed down to Tom Humphries.
As usual in this country the sentencing of paedophiles and sexual predators is a joke.
As a person who was sexually abused myself and groomed all my childhood and went on to press charges against my father, Harry Daly, I'd like to give some insight of how it affect a person's life.
My father is currently serving time in Arbour Hill prison for his crimes.
My abuse began when I was six and continued until just before I turned 18.
To the outside world I was just the same as any other child. I showed no obvious signs of the hell I was going through at home. From a very young age my father called me his princess. He made me feel like I was his favourite and he loved me more then anyone else, he never threatened me not to tell, instead he told me he would be the one to be taken away. Only now I realise that in itself was a threat to a young child.
I lived two lives. I always thought of abuse as violent and that's where I was wrong.
I was groomed and totally under his control; at least once a day I would be sexually abused and most days it was a couple of time a day.
As I got my teenage years I started to hate what was happening, I kept asking him could it stop and he told me it was all ok...he just wanted to show me how to enjoy sex.
I never got to have a normal teenage life. I hated sex. I never got to have sex with my boyfriend when I was 16 as I thought it was so disgusting. Unlike all my friends who were experiencing normal teenage sexual activities like losing their virginity, I had lost mine many years before.
My abuse stopped when I moved out of home during the night to get away from him. I lived in fear of this continuing into my adult years.
About this time I spoke out the the gardaí about my abuse and my mother was informed. My father left the family home to seek help. During this my mother stood by him and visited him while he was gone from the family home.
This is when the confusion started to get more life-changing.
My whole childhood was becoming a living nightmare. I couldn't understand why no one was defending me.
So after a year she told me he had had therapy and was moving back home. I didn't know what yo do. It was 1992 and I had no family on this side of the country and no where to go, so I just went along with their plans and it was never talked about again.
We all acted like nothing had happened.. it was never spoken about again.
I went onto have my own family, we all acted normal until I was 26 and my father tried to groom me again. He sexually assaulted me again but this time I stood up to him. I left the house, I told my mother, yet she stayed with him. I continued to speak to my mother but I never saw my father after that day.
I felt such a fool, it took me many years to realise I has been groomed and that was the control he had over me.
It was 2010 when I pressed charges against my father.
He was charged with 227 sample charges, 100 sample charges of rape alone. but I had never looked at it as rape before but that's because I was groomed.
The day my father went in on remand the sergeant in charge of the case rang me to say my father was in prison and when I got off the phone I think I went into shock. I started to imagine my poor father walking through the prison corridors and being put into a cell, I felt such pity for him.
It took me until that night to sort out my thoughts - this is when I realised the devastating effects of being groomed.
My father would go onto to be sentenced to 15 years in prison with five years suspended due to his guilty plea.
My mother stood by him, nearly all my mother's family turned against me. But my sister and my brother stood by me.
However, I went into a massive depression and isolated myself from life. It was the loneliest four years of my life.
I took on the biggest fight of my life which was my metal health. I fought so hard to get where I am today, in the the last year I can feel myself coming back to myself.
The heartache I went through all because my father thought it was OK to have sexual relations with his daughter, a little child and because my mother stood by this man, I felt so unwanted and so unloved. It took me so many years to get over this trauma and find myself.
And I have..well nearly...I still feel I've a little but more to go..
And yet just as I get back to myself my father will be released next year.
I'm now content and happy with my life. I love my six children and I love my two grandsons. I just figure if I do the opposite to my parents I will do an amazing job..
For the past year and a half I have been running a support page on Facebook called Survivors Side by Side.
It's for anyone that has been abused and also family and friends. I found it such a lonely road to walk and just wanted to help in anyway I could, just to have someone at the other end of the phone might help.