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April only spoke out about being abused because she feared for her mother’s safety

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

The man who abused April ‘weaseled his way into my family, and it took me seven years to speak’.

She now works with children who are the same age she was when her stepfather started sexually abusing her. She says, ‘I am constantly thinking that was me’.

She insists she doesn’t want to ‘sit and wallow’ about what happened to her, but she does want to help stop abuse for others.

April’s parents split up when she was about seven years old, and soon after, her mother’s partner, Denis, moved into the family home.

One day when she was outside in the garden with Denis, he said he was having ‘a wee’. She now realises he was masturbating. He repeated this behaviour, and would make her ‘help him’ masturbate. It was not long before he began raping her, and this continued for the next seven years, and happened countless times.

Denis and April’s mother travelled a lot and when they were staying in family rooms in hotels, Denis would rape April while her mother was asleep. 

When she was in her mid teens, she asked him to stop forcing her to have sex, and he did. At first she thought there was ‘no need’ to tell anyone, but a shocking event made her change her mind. She had an accident at school, and was unable to move for several hours. She lay there worrying that she was going to die, and leave her mother living alone with ‘the monster’.

This incident prompted April to tell her mother about the abuse, who told April’s father, and together they reported it to the police.

Denis was convicted and given a prison sentence. He has since been released, and April worries about bumping into him. 

April chooses not to describe how she may have been affected by the abuse. She says she doesn’t care what happens to her, but she wants to prevent it happening to other children.

She thinks that sex education in schools is a ‘tick box exercise’ at the moment, rather than something that is going to stop abuse. She feels that children need constant reminders about boundaries and inappropriate touching, and that sex education should deal with the emotional aspects, not just the biology.

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