'Your childhood is taken away' - woman sexually abused by father anxious ahead of his prison release
A WOMAN who was sexually abused by her father throughout her childhood has said she is "freaked out" that he will be released from prison later this year.
Shaneda Daly has called for mandatory life sentences for those convicted of rape or child abuse, deeming the current system "not good enough."
Her father Harry Daly pleaded guilty to 227 charges of rape, indecent assault and sexual assault against Ms Daly between February 1982 and November 1992, when she was aged between six and 17 years old.
He was sentenced by Mr Justice Paul Carney to 15 years in prison in 2011, with five years suspended.
He is due to be released from Arbour Hill Prison later this year, something Ms Daly is struggling with.
Speaking on The Sean O'Rourke Show on RTE Radio One, she said: "I thought I was doing okay with it (his release) but then I saw a recent photograph of him where he was out on a hospital visit and it totally knocked me back.
"I was going to go visit him in prison but now I've totally changed my mind, he hadn't changed and it just freaked me out, I don't feel the need to see him now.
"I'm trying to get Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and the rest of the Government to see we need a structured mandatory sentencing for rapists and child abusers, I've started a petition and I'm trying to get as many signatures as possible.
"The life sentences are not being given out, seven-and-a-half years seems to be the average given out and it's just not good enough."
Ms Daly, who is originally from Lisseycasey, Co Clare, said that the abuse started when she was just six years old and has had a devastating impact on her life.
"I look back now and the grooming and control are so hard to get away from.
"It's hard when you look back and realise your whole childhood was taken away, I never got the chance to grow properly, so seven-and-a-half years in prison is nothing.
"From when I was 12 until 17 it happened at least once a day, there was no getting away from him at all," she said.
She first told gardai about the abuse when she was 17 and her father voluntarily left the family home for 11 months and got therapy.
Ms Daly said when he returned he "seemed to have changed" and the abuse wasn't mentioned again until he tried to abuse her again in 2001 when she was 26.
She left the family home that night after telling her mother, who stood by him.
Ms Daly went on to press charges against her father in 2010.
Her father signed 227 guilty please and within a year the case had been brought to court, which Ms Daly describes as a "traumatic" experience, she strongly feels changes should be made to the system.
She said: "I was planning on reading the victim impact statement myself but in court you're a witness of the State, there's all this legal stuff going on around you and they're reading out your statement and it was so traumatic that I knew when it came to me I'd have to pass him and I couldn't.
"I definitely think complainants should be allowed to be in a different room to the accused, it's very intimidating.
"I meet so many people who have been through the process and had to testify, they all say the same thing that when you're in court you'll have the accused smirking at you and making faces and you have no separate legal representation."
Ms Daly has set up a support group called Supporters Side By Side and said that the #MeToo movement along with several high-profile court cases have led to people sharing their experiences of sexual abuse.
She said: "I know from speaking out that other people come forward then, it resonates with you and I know from the #MeToo movement has brought hundreds more out, I run a support page and I have hundreds more joining now.
"It's just about letting them know they don't have to feel ashamed, it's not a dirty secret and you shouldn't have to feel they've done anything wrong."
She also suggests that we should be taught about the dangers and child abuse in school.
Ms Daly said: "It's not spoken about properly in school, I thought child abuse meant that you were beaten up and black and blue, if someone came into my school and talked about sex education, child abuse and grooming, I would have realised then that what was going on was 100pc wrong."
- If you have been affected by the content of this article, the National Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour helpline can be reached on 1800 77 88 88 or visit www.rapecrisishelp.ie
- For more information about Survivors Side by Side or to join, please visit here
- Shaneda Daly has launched a petition calling for mandatory life sentences for sex offenders, for more information please visit here