UP UNTIL THE AGE OF SIX KERRY, NOW 30, WAS A DADDY’S GIRL.
BUT EVERYTHING CHANGED THE NIGHT HER MUM WENT INTO LABOUR WITH HER BABY BROTHER. WHILE KERRY STAYED AT HOME AWAITING THE NEW ARRIVAL WITH HER DAD, TERENCE, 54, HE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER.
KERRY SPENT THE REST OF HER CHILDHOOD LIVING IN TERROR AND FEARING ANOTHER ATTACK FROM HER CONTROLLING FATHER. SHE EVEN CUT HER HAIR OFF TO STOP HIM FROM FINDING HER ATTRACTIVE.
AFTER BOTTLING EVERYTHING UP FOR YEARS ABBIE FINALLY ADMITTED TO HER MUM WHAT HER DAD DID TO HER – AND SHE DISCOVERED SHE WASN’T THE ONLY ONE IN THE FAMILY WHO HAD BEEN ASSAULTED BY THE SICK PERVERT…
TERENCE WAS GIVEN A THREE YEAR PRISON SENTENCE AFTER BEING FOUND GUILTY OF FOUR COUNTS OF INDECENT ASSAULT.
Up until the age of six my childhood home was filled with laughter and love. My mum was very maternal and dreamed of a busy house filled with the sounds of children running around and playing. When I was six and she fell pregnant again with her fourth child nobody was really surprised. I was too young to be bothered by her growing baby bump and I didn’t mind the attention the new arrival was getting – because I was a Daddy’s Girl.
My father Terence Lee, 54, and I were as thick of thieves. I was always the one he pulled on to his knee to watch TV with and the daughter he shared a big bag of sweeties with. I knew I was his favourite and I adored him. But the night my Mum went into labour things between us changed forever. As we were too young to be in the maternity ward, my Dad chose to stay at home and look after my siblings and I. He tucked us up in bed but in the middle of the night I woke up, shaking, from a terrible nightmare.
I couldn’t remember what was so frightening, but I did know that there was only one thing that would make me feel better – a big hug from my Dad. Tip-toeing across the landing I made a beeline for his bedroom. Across the darkened room I saw him dozing and I quietly sneaked under the duvet with him. The double bed was more roomy than usual as Mum was away, but my Dad still put his arms around me, pulling me closer to him so I felt his warm breath on my skin.
I thought he was going to protect me from any more bad dreams – but instead he put his hand between my thighs and then went on to sexually assault me. In the morning I awoke shocked and confused to find blood smeared across my thighs and pyjama bottoms. We never spoke about what happened. It was a terrible secret between the two of us, but still we couldn’t pretend as though nothing had happened.
Terence was no longer my fun, caring Daddy. I was terrified of him. After that night his presence in the house alone was enough to set me on edge. ‘What must I have done for him to punish me like that?’ I thought to myself over and over again. After that night the only contact we would have was when he slapped my legs with slippers or beat me with a stick. I would limp away in pain as he hid the stick away, ready for the next time.
It wasn’t just a quick bash around the shins – Dad often took pleasure in locking me in a cramped cupboard for hours and hours. “Stay in there till you learn to behave,” he would shriek as I sat sobbing, trapped and alone in my dark prison. I remember the relief I felt when he finally put a few holes in the door so it was easier for me to breathe.
My childhood was a living hell, but even as I grew older there was no escaping his reign of terror in the house. My brothers and sisters learned to stand up to him but I never got over what he did to me and I was always scared of him and disgusted in myself. I did my best to be out the house as much as possible, so as well as attending college I got a job at a pet store so I’d be away from five in the morning and wouldn’t return until after dark. But when I got back home he would always be there waiting for me.
“Get a toothbrush to clean the kitchen floor with,” he’d growl at me before I could escape upstairs. It wasn’t just the violence and the shouting that scared me. What disturbed me the most was the way he looked at me – it wasn’t the normal way a father looks at his child. There was something else in his glare and I was terrified of it. One day when I felt the familiar feeling of his eyes burning into my body I couldn’t stand it any longer and I raced upstairs to my bedroom. Slamming the door behind me I reached for a pair of scissors and took a big chop at my long hair. Watching the strands fall to the floor I breathed a sigh of relief.
Staring into the mirror and seeing how ridiculous I looked I smiled at my reflection. I made a grab for the scissors and hacked off more and more of my hair. Later I shaved off my eyebrows too. I was desperate to try anything to stop him finding me attractive. I didn’t care how stupid I looked so long as he didn’t want to look at me. But my makeover was not enough to deter him. Dad would still walk in on me in the shower or when I was getting changed far too often for it ever to be considered accidental.
Piling my heaviest clothes up against the bathroom door I prayed that I’d hear him before he walked in on me washing again. I never said anything to anyone though, I was convinced it was all my fault. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I finally developed the confidence to get close to someone.
When Dad found out I was dating a boy he called me a ‘disgusting slag’ and banned me from meeting him. But I thought I was so in love that I ended up moving out to be with him. It was like he was rescuing me and I was so willing to escape. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out to plan and after a few months, with nowhere else to turn, I was forced to move back home.
Luckily this time everything had changed. Annoyed at the way he was mistreating my mother my older brother kicked Dad out. And he never came back.
At the age of 22 I finally felt strong enough to try and make it on my own and I moved cities hoping for a fresh start. But I always carried that dark secret of the abuse I suffered throughout my childhood with me – until I was 29, when on an impulse, I opened up a blank writing pad and began to scribble down what my Dad did to me all those years ago. Once I’d started writing I couldn’t stop. It was the first time I’d ever confronted my past and every word written felt like a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders.
Around the same time I heard the news that Terence had a new partner and my stomach turned over when I discovered that she had young grandchildren. I knew then that I had to mention what had happened to me. If I could stop anything from happening to them then it would be all be worth it. I drove back home to see my Mum and we sat together on her sofa as I told her that I had been sexually abused by my dad. She was completely devastated after I told her everything. But we went to the police together and Terence was jailed for three years for what he did to me.
Even now I still find it hard to trust anyone, but I feel safer knowing he’s behind bars and people know what he did. He completely ruined my childhood and I’ll never have that back – but I’m concentrating on making my son, six, as happy as possible. My boy is the same age now as I was when my Dad first attacked me and the thought of him going through anything as bad as I did is almost too much to bear.
Terence was found guilty by jury and jailed for three years. He was placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely and given a Sex Offender’s Prevention Order that stops him having unsupervised access with children for the next 10 years.
If you have been the victim of abuse and your abuser has been found guilty in court, please let us know if you’d like to share your story. We can talk you though the options and how it works, and help you get the best deal for your story.
Every abuse story we print is followed up by hundreds of letters of support and from people who it has given the courage to bring their abuser to account.
Often we are asked if we can print a story anonymously, or if there hasn’t been a conviction. In truth, we do print anonymous stories from time to time, and stories where the abuser has not been convicted, but it is very rare. It’s tricky for us from a legal point of view to name someone who hasn’t been convicted, and we always have to abide by the press rules that govern us. If you’re unsure, or you’d still like us to consider your story, get in touch using the form on the right hand side of this page, or find more information on our sell my story anonymously page.