Saturday 16 December 2017

Woman sues father over 10 years of sex abuse as child

Tim Healy

A WOMAN is suing her father over sustained sexual abuse he carried out on her from the ages of two to 12.

The father was convicted and sentenced in 2006 to six years’ imprisonment, with two suspended, after he pleaded guilty to five sample charges related to the most serious incidents of abuse which occurred in the 1980s when his wife was out of the house.

The now 38-year-old woman claims that when she eventually told her mother, at around 17 years of age, her mother told her not to tell anyone and said: "It was not that bad, he did not rape you."

The woman said the abuse initially involved touching her genitals, but he later got her to perform oral sex and he lay on top of her naked after getting her to also remove some of her clothing. Apart from one other incident, the abuse stopped around the age of 12 after she had her first period.

Mr Justice Eamon de Valera was told yesterday that liability was not being contested but the defence were arguing the case had been brought outside time limits provided by the statute of limitations. The hearing continues.

The woman, a mother of three, told the court the abuse had a devastating effect on her, leaving her feeling as though she was "just existing and there was no life". She always needed to be with her own children when they went out, never trusted anyone and only recently started trusting her own partner of 20 years.

She never told anyone what was happening at the time because she was afraid of her father, who was an "extremely violent" man and who gave her mother very bad beatings, particularly after drinking a lot. He also warned her not to tell anyone, that she would be taken away and no one would believe her.

"When he came home, we would be terrified because we knew he would start hitting us.

"His way was The Way and everything was about what my Dad wanted, whether it was what we watched on TV, or going down to the kitchen to get a drink."

Around 17, when she was doing her Leaving Certificate, she said there was a lot of fighting between her parents and there was constant pressure on her about the exams. One morning, she said, she left a note for her mother saying she was running away and to "ask Dad what he did to me on the days you were not there."

She left but her father searched for her and picked her up later and brought her back home.

When she spoke to her mother about the note, she was told not to tell anyone and that if her father had to leave home, the mother would not be able to afford to look after the family.

The woman said she was crestfallen by her mother's response. Later that day, after her parents had gone out in the car and then returned, her mother then gave her the response that the abuse was not that bad and she had not been raped.

Subsequently, her father threatened to have her put into a psychiatric hospital, she said.

She had her first child at 18 years of age, but it was not until 2004, when there was a crisis in the family, that she told her siblings about what happened and they said if she went to gardai, they would support her. She made a 16-page statement to gardai and her father was convicted in 2006.

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