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



Florence’s father was convicted of child sexual abuse, but no one asked if he had abused her

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Florence’s father sexually abused her when she was a very young child. 

He was imprisoned for abusing her step-siblings but then allowed to return home, where he continued abusing Florence for several more years.

One of Florence’s earliest memories is of sitting on her father’s knee, wriggling and trying to get away, but he held her tight and told her to ‘shush’. He penetrated her with his fingers. ‘It was so painful’ she says, and she was also scared when she saw blood on his fingers.

When she was about seven years old, Florence’s father was sent to prison for several years for sexually abusing his children from a previous marriage. 

The police and social services were involved, but Florence says ‘no organisations asked me if anything had happened to me, despite the fact my father was convicted of abusing lots of others’. 

Looking back, she says she finds that unbelievable.

Florence describes the time her father was in prison as relief from the abuse, but she also remembers it was a very difficult time financially for the family. 

When Florence’s father left prison he returned home and started abusing her again, and raping her. 

As Florence grew older she became more scared of what might happen to her. She says ‘When my periods started I was terrified I’d get pregnant, and what would happen if I did. I’d get the blame for going off with some lad’.

Florence is sure her mother knew about the sexual abuse. 

Although she says she really wanted to, Florence was never able to tell anyone that her father was sexually abusing her. She ran away one day as a teenager and hid in a church, planning to tell the vicar what was happening. When he found her, she says, he and his wife were kind to her but they called her parents. They said she had run away because of a ‘silly family fall out’ and her father came to take her home.

As she grew older, Florence says she became more angry and frustrated about the abuse she was enduring. Although he was an aggressive man, she began resisting her father when he tried to abuse her. She thinks she was in her mid teens when the rape and abuse finally stopped. 

It was many years before Florence told anyone about the abuse. She only disclosed it to her husband after a television programme they watched made her very upset. She says that for years she felt she ‘coped well’ with her childhood experiences until one day ‘out of the blue’, she suffered a serious mental breakdown. 

It took a long time for Florence to recover. She was very well supported and she says she feels lucky for that. But she also felt even more angry with her father: ‘I was angry that I had been ill, I was angry with myself because of my children having to find out about it all and having to see me being a jibbering wreck … and I was angry that he was still having an impact on my life, but now it was also impacting on my children.’

Florence was referred for counselling by her GP and says that to her surprise, it turned out to be tremendously helpful. She says she learned to identify when she was struggling and needed to refer herself back for more support, but she still lives in fear of nightmares or memories that can trigger her.

She found out some time later that her father had also abused her younger siblings. This upsets Florence greatly and she still feels guilty she didn’t protect them. ‘I know I was just a child at the time but I should have noticed what was happening to the others’ she says.

As a child she found it very difficult to make friends; she never felt ‘good enough’, and that she was dirty. The abuse has also caused problems in Florence’s relationships. 

Florence believes that children should be taught how sexual abusers work and how abusers might try to control and influence them. She would also like to see education programmes in schools that parents can be involved in, to help families talk more about the issues. 

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