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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



Aniyah was physically, psychologically and sexually abused for many years, yet she feels guilt and shame

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Aniyah was raped when she was seven years old. The perpetrator continued abusing her for the next 20 years. 

She says she was always terrified of him, and she still is.

Aniyah shared her experience in writing. She still feels shame about what happened to her, and describes herself as ‘pathetic’. But she comments ‘And yet I want to write it because it’s about time’. 

She explains that her parents were separated and she, her mum and her brother went to visit their grandparents every week. She and her brother would always play out with a neighbour, Stephan, who she says ‘always seemed to be there whenever we went to visit … he was like an uncle who everyone seemed to love’.

One day when the three of them were playing, Stephan took Aniyah further away from her brother than usual, into a building. He raped her on a concrete floor. She writes: ‘There wasn’t any warning … he hadn’t done smaller things first and then gradually led up to rape over time. It came out of nowhere.’

When it was over, Aniyah says, he was ‘nice’ again. He wiped her and helped her get dressed, and ‘then acted like nothing had happened’.

Aniyah describes how she did the same, ‘trying to walk like it didn’t hurt … laughing and joking with him … I didn’t tell anyone … I didn’t even cry until I got into bed that night’.

From this time, Stephan abused Aniyah every week. She describes being trapped in this terrible situation, knowing that she didn’t want to go outside with him, but not knowing what excuses she could make. She was anxious about ‘difficult questions’ being asked. She says ‘Sometimes I thought about telling my mum, but I didn’t know what words to use and I wasn’t allowed to use “rude” words’. 

Around this time, ‘an incident’ happened with her dad. He asked Aniyah to go and live with him and his new partner. She found it very hard to answer, but eventually she told him that she couldn’t. He started crying and she was so frightened and shocked by this that she reacted by doing what Stephan had taught her … ‘what I thought grown up men wanted me to do’.

Aniyah describes the shame and self-hatred this makes her feel, saying ‘it was more my fault than his’. However, she adds, ‘the fact remains that he let me do it’. When it was over, he told her that he wouldn’t be coming to see her again. She didn’t see him for many years.

For the next 20 years, Aniyah was subjected to a continual, horrifying catalogue of abuse by Stephan. She says he was nice to everyone else, but became more and more angry and aggressive towards her. She describes being desperate to please him, but feeling that she failed. The sexual abuse, including rape and oral sex, ‘were just things I had to do’. But she adds that this became more difficult as she got older.

Stephan tormented her psychologically and she says this was sometimes harder to deal with than the sexual abuse. He made her ‘rate’ his performance, but was never satisfied whatever answer she gave. Sometimes he made her choose between objects that he would use to abuse her. 

He also threatened to harm Aniyah’s family, including her new baby sister. He beat Aniyah so that she often had bruises, but usually in places that were not visible. He described in detail how he would kill her. 

She believed that he was capable of anything, but, she says, ‘I didn’t really worry about the idea of dying. What I worried about was whether I would be clothed when I was found, or whether anyone would be able to tell the other things he’d done’. 

When she was about 10, she writes, ‘he started lending me out to other men’. She doesn’t know if Stephan was paid for this. 

Although Aniyah did not tell anyone what was happening to her, looking back she can see that there were times when professionals must have been concerned about her. In primary school she was sent to see a child psychologist but her mum was present during these sessions. She says her mum ‘wasn’t happy about the referral and I would be instructed how to behave before each session’. 

On two occasions, teachers questioned her about her behaviour and bruises on her. She says they were kind, but she was too afraid to tell them and they accepted her explanations and her mother’s claim that she was ‘acting up’.

When she went to university she believed the abuse would end, but Stephan travelled to see her. She says in a way this was worse because she never knew when he was going to arrive. 

Aniyah became pregnant by Stephan and told him, hoping ‘he might leave me alone’. But he beat her until she miscarried.

The abuse ended when she was in her late 20s and moved to another city. She remained terrified that he would find her.

Talking about the impact of the abuse she suffered, Aniyah says ‘It’s difficult to say … because I don’t know how things would have been different had it not happened’.

But she recognises that she lives with many conditions caused by her experiences. These include depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harming. She has PTSD, nightmares, panic attacks and fear of strangers. She often doesn’t realise when she is ill or in pain, so some health problems have not been discovered for a long time. 

Trust, sex and relationships are very difficult for her, and she struggles with strong feelings of guilt and shame. 

She says ‘I feel pathetic that even though I was an adult, I was still allowing this to happen to me. I know I should have been able to stand up to him, or report him, or do something … but when I was with him, I felt like a seven year old child who had to do whatever he wanted. I genuinely didn’t believe there was any other way’.  

She has had difficulty accessing mental health support and feels there should be much more provision for victims and survivors of abuse. 

She feels there is now better awareness among professionals of the possible signs of abuse. She says it is vital that there should be completely confidential services for children, but understands that children have to be protected.

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