A FORMER Army sergeant has pleaded guilty to raping and sexually assaulting his daughter over a 12-year period.
The abuse began in 1975 when the victim was five and continued until she left the family home at the age of 17.
The victim, now 41, told the Central Criminal Court that during that time she thought the abuse was normal behaviour.
She said she now suffered from low self esteem and low self worth. She said she felt so much disgust with her body that she had never allowed anyone to see her naked.
The 66-year-old man pleaded guilty to seven charges of the sexual assault of his daughter between August 1975 and August 1988 at various locations in both Co Kildare and Cork.
He also admitted raping her on an unknown date between August 1987 and August 1988 in the family home in Cork.
Detective Garda Sean Stack told prosecuting counsel, Cathleen Noctor that the man began abusing his daughter when the family was living in an army house at the Curragh.
The man would get the girl to touch his penis and masturbate him. When the girl was older he would touch her private parts and when she was 15 he raped her. The court heard he raped her on two more occasions.
The victim told her mother about the abuse in 1997.
When her mother then confronted her estranged ex-husband, he admitted the abuse. The woman went to gardai three years later and the man told them that the abuse happened at least once a month.
He said he didn't find it unusual when she didn't try to stop him raping her.
He believed that his behaviour was caused by something wrong with his mind and that he couldn't control himself.
The woman said that as a result of the child abuse she had "worn a mask" for years, saying: "I can now take off the mask. I would encourage anyone who has been abused to report it."
She said she was not afraid of the abuse at the time because it was her father and she thought it was normal.
But, she said, she knew something was wrong and imagined everyday telling someone or hoping someone would notice something different about her.
She said the abuse had a bad effect on her relationship with her mother and sister but that their support since she told them about the abuse has given her courage.
She told the court her father would frighten any boyfriends away and she wondered what her life would be like if she had a father and not a sexual abuser.
Mr Justice Paul Carney adjourned sentencing until next Monday and remanded the man, who has been declared a sex offender, in custody until then.