CHRISTINA WESTERN, 46, AND HEATHER WEST, 52, SPENT EVERY SECOND OF THEIR CHILDHOOD IN FEAR. WITH THEIR WHOLE HOUSEHOLD BEING CONTROLLED BY THEIR EVIL FATHER, GERALD LONGMAN, THE SIBLINGS WOULD PREFER TO SPEND TIME AT SCHOOL BEING HORRIFICALLY BULLIED THAN GO HOME TO THEIR PERVERTED FATHER.
AFTER FINALLY BURYING THEIR MOTHER, 15 YEARS AGO, CHRISTINA DECIDED TO GO TO THE POLICE BUT THE CASE GOT LOST IN THE SYSTEM. IT WASN’T UNTIL THE FRAUGHT SISTERS HAD A ROW 9 MONTHS AGO THAT THEY BOTH FACED “THE OLD MAN” IN COURT, BUT WATCHED IN HORROR AS HE WAS TO SET FREE TO PROWL THE STREETS, AFTER DOCTORS SAID HE WAS SUFFERING FROM DEMENTIA…SWNS
From Heather West’s POV.
As Dad cracked another joke we all roared with laughter. He was making silly faces and popping his head around the corner of the door, again, pretending he was the headless man.
But as soon as our mum, ***, walked out the room the laughter stopped and instead a cold bitter air filled the empty space.
Because this was the only time you ever heard laughter in our house and it wasn’t the usual laugher you would expect from little kids. It was the forced kind that came only from pure fear.
We called our Dad, Gerald (now 78), The Old Man and he ruled our house with angst and anger. He made sure we knew that he never wanted any of us and made mum’s life a misery.
Every morning we would sit up in our little beds and rock backwards and forwards, chanting at our mum downstairs.
“Mummy, mummy, can we get up yet.” We were not allowed out of our beds until he was satisfied with his breakfast and we never dared defy him.
When Dad came home from a bad day at work I shook with terror.
He’s small, blue eyes would narrow as he’s face and lips drained of colour and he fixed his gaze on you like an animal with their prey.
We never dared catch his gaze because we knew what was coming next.
Desperate to save my younger siblings from the same sick fate, I would quickly grab them and usher them upstairs.
It was too late for me but I would do anything I could to protect them. As a young girl I walked around like I was in a shell, I never knew who I was and rarely dared to misbehave.
At school the bullies noticed I was vulnerable and I spent my life trying to escape their taunting and punches on my way home. I would try so many different routes, but they always found me.
Home wasn’t my safe haven, it was worse than outside.
Dad didn’t just taunt me and bully me. He sexually abused me too.
Most people barely have any memories from being a baby but I had one that has haunted me ever since.
When I was two years old we used to have a tin bath in our house in Bromley, Kent. It was in front of the fire in the front room and mum and dad used to bath me in it.
One day as Dad took me out he placed the towel over his knee and began to rub me dry. He rubbed me so hard that I remember crying from the pain.
This was my youngest memory and it was Dad sexually assaulting me.
From then on the abuse was none stop, until I went into care, around the age of four.
I don’t know why I went but I knew that we were all going to be separated, until one day when I was ten, Mum came back and we went home.
I never understood why we went back and I prayed that it would be different but the minute we arrived I was met with his cold, deathly stare.
But there was one thing that had changed. There was a little baby and it was my sister Christine.
She seemed to put a smile back on my Mum’s face but Dad was just the same as always. Mean and nasty and took any opportunity he could to get me on my own.
One day when I got in from school I heard his deep bellow and my heart stopped.
“Who’s that? Get in here now,” he shouted.
My feet felt so heavy I thought I was rooted to the spot. Summoning up all the strength I had I forced my skinny little legs forward and walked into the front room.
Dad was sitting there on the sofa waiting for me.
“Have you heard about the birds and bees?” He asked. I was so petrified that I quickly nodded my head and insisted I already knew.
“Come here Heather, come and sit next to me,” he said. As I looked down Dad had a handkerchief on his leg and was exposing himself.
He told me to touch him but after I refused he grabbed my hand and forced me to carry on until he was satisfied.
“Now f*** off,” he said. This is what he always said as he threw me away like a used toy.
I’ve never known what I did once he was done with me. It felt like I was suddenly invisible but the pain and memories were as vivid as anything.
But the worst was yet to come.
When I was 11, I came home hellish day at school and crept into the house.
As usual no-one else was around except Dad. It was like he had planned it. As I walked up the stairs he summoned me into his bedroom.
“Come and give your dad a hug,” he said as he pulled the bed cover back. Too frightened to look at him I kept my head down and hovered by the door.
“Take your knickers off and get into bed.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me closely into his body. And then I felt the type of pain that I didn’t even know existed.
As he raped me for the first time I screamed my heart out and prayed that it would stop.
Eventually, when he was done, he kicked me out of bed and as always, told me to f*** off.
That was the first and only time he ever raped me.
But he carried on constantly touching and exposing himself to me as he moved onto my younger sister Christine.
We never talked about what was happening to us because we were so controlled and tormented that we had no sibling bond.
You went through the pain alone and that was the way it had to be.
The happiest week of my childhood was spent at a friend’s when I was 15. Dad had been threatening towards me so Mum told me it was best to get out his way.
That week was the most peaceful week of my life. I was safe, warm and happy. I even laughed for a while.
For years after that I shut myself away. I struggled to ever laugh again and I spent years consumed by pent up anger and aggression.
But Dad remained in my life. I didn’t know how to get rid of him so I boxed the memories away and tried to build a future.
But as much as I tried they always seemed to leak out in some way or another and they affected my choice in men. By the age of 50 I had suffered the breakdown of three marriages and although I had two wonderful children I was felt alone, again, just like I did when I was a child.
The second I gave birth to my kids I made a promise that I would do everything in my power to protect them.
So when my daughter, ***, **, came down the stairs one Sunday and told me she’d had a Facebook message from a family member everything came flooding back.
There were rumours flying around that Dad had abused me and Christine. Instantly I was fuming. I was ashamed of my past and had never told my children the truth because I wanted to protect them.
So I marched round to Christine’s house a few blocks away and demanded some answers. Chris and I had only seen each other once in the last few years so I didn’t understand why people were discussing our past at one of her BBQ’s.
“I never want this spoken of again Christine, this is my business and it is not something I want anyone to know.”
After a short row I left the house and went home feeling sick and worried.
A few days later there was a knock at my door and to my shock there was Christine standing on my door step.
As soon as I opened the door she grabbed my hand and led me into the garden.
“I don’t care how this ends Heather but you have to know I have reopened the case I started years ago and it’s up to you if you want to be involved. Are you ready?”
As we looked at each other I knew that it was time.
“I don’t think I am but I will do it anyway”, I said.
Christine went to the police again, like she had 15 years before, and told them everything. But this time they immediately said they would help and apologised for the mistakes they had made in the past.
Three days later CID were at my house and I started the painful journey of finally sharing what had been haunting me for so many years.
Although Christine was going through the same we found it hard to talk about it in front of each other. Neither of us wanted to know what he had done to the other.
It was too painful to hear and too painful to share but I did find comfort in knowing that he only raped me and not my younger sister.
Finally after a year back and forth with the police a fact finder case was brought forward.
Taunton Crown Court heard how our Dad was a serial paedophile and carried out a campaign of abuse, dating back nearly 50 years.
With the support of the courts and the Police behind us there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel. The man that had blighted our lives from such a vulnerable age was about to get what he deserved.
But on 14th September, 2012, we got the most devastating news imaginable. Our dad, Gerald Longman, was declared unfit to stand trial because they said he was suffering from dementia.
The jury still found him guilty of four indecent assaults, two rapes and one charge of inciting a 14 year old to do a sexual act, but he was given an absolute discharge and allowed to walk free from court and carry on with his life.
We watched in horror as he walked down the court steps free as a bird, and we were suddenly wrapped in the chains of mental torture all over again.
The devastation was too much to bear at first. The judge said he was regretful of his decision but he had no choice and he hoped that we at least got some form of closure.
I thought that going to court would end the pain and put the past behind me but it has done the opposite.
We will never get closure until that men is locked behind bars, where he belongs.
But for now we are putting all our energy into campaigning every single day to get the laws changed and protect the children in this country.
We are also currently in the process of taking civil action against our Dad and are constantly getting the backing of the local MP and people living in the area.
Since we went to court I have finally started counselling and everyday things are starting to get a bit easier. We will never get our childhood back but I will fight constantly to make sure other children never suffer the same horrors that we did.
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Christina Western said:
“Dad was constantly exposing himself to us. I lived me life in complete fear of what he was going to do next. I couldn’t stand being at home and always felt like I was living on the edge.
“I was taken into care when I was 12 too and put in children’s home but I run way away so many times.
“Mum was so ill and I was desperate to get home to her to look after her. I couldn’t bear to think of her alone in that house with the old man, he was a monster.
“I loved my mum so much so when she died, when I was 31, and Dad refused to let me go to the funeral I snapped. She was my best friend and I could take anything he did to me but I couldn’t let him take away my chance to say goodbye to her.
“So that’s when I decided I had to go to the police. But they made mistakes and advised me to try and move on with my life. I was so depressed and fragile I didn’t fight and just accepted what they said.
“He’d won again. Not only has the old man damaged my life but he has damaged the life of my family too. My poor daughter witnessed me at my lowest, as I tried to gas myself in our oven.
“I have suffered from Anorexia the majority of my adult life because it was the only thing I felt I could control.
“I never blamed Mum for what happened because she was petrified of him too. Our house was constantly full of rows and arguments. When it was really bad we would all go and stand outside in the garden with her, while he sat like a king in front of the fire.
“Dad assaulted me so many times I have blocked most of it out of my mind. I never found a way to cope with the pain and disgust that he made me feel. I have no respect for myself and struggle to believe that I am worthy of being loved.
“But my family have helped me to get through and although it disgusts me that he is walking around and free, while I am still in pieces I am going to use this to make something good happen.
“I am going to keep campaigning to make sure this never happens again. I will do anything I can to finally get justice.
“Dad has not seen the last of us.”