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



Heidi suffered years of abuse in her home by her mother, father and brother

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Heidi grew up in a large family. For as far back as she can remember she was physically and mentally abused by her mother. 

After her mother violently attacked her father, he began sexually abusing Heidi.

Heidi describes the day her mother broke her father’s arm as the day ‘it all changed’. She was eight years old and until then, her father had always stood up to her mother.

The abuse began on a day when Heidi was off school because she was ill. She relates that when her mum went to collect the younger children from school, her dad started ‘touching me’.

Within weeks, he was raping her. He used to tell her ‘This is our little secret’ and she says that no one in her family knew what he was doing. He stopped sexually abusing her when she was 10. She says she doesn’t know what made him stop, nor does she know if he abused any of her siblings. 

Two years later, Heidi suffered further sexual abuse in her home. This time the perpetrator was her brother, and she thinks her mum may have been aware of it. The abuse went on for five years. Her brother was a few years older than Heidi, and she remembers that he bought her things to keep her quiet.

During this time, Heidi says, she couldn’t concentrate at school and was getting into trouble, but no one asked her what was wrong. She also recalls that she and her siblings ‘were always stealing food’. She spoke to social services about her family life when she was in her mid teens, but no action was taken.

The abuse by her brother stopped when she was in her mid teens and she left home after being hit by her mother and her brother. She went to stay with a friend, who told the police where she was. 

The police asked her if there had been an argument at home and she said there had. She says she now regrets that she didn’t report the abuse. She returned home but moved away permanently two years later.

When she was in her early twenties, Heidi spoke to an older person about the abuse, who encouraged her to go to the police. She decided to do this to try and protect her siblings, but did not have a positive experience when she made her report. She feels she wasn’t listened to and says that after that she ‘went off the rails’.

Her brother now has children and she has made a report about his history of abusive behaviour to the local authority safeguarding team.

Heidi describes the negative impact that the years of abuse from family members have had on her life. She has regular flashbacks and nightmares and an eating disorder. She has attempted suicide on several occasions. She feels she has had no support and that no one has listened to her. She is unable to work. She has had housing problems and has few friends because she feels she can’t trust anyone.

Heidi feels she was let down by her school, social services and other family members who did not pick up on what was going on in her family, despite many episodes of extreme behaviour. But she adds that she can remember her mum telling her that if anyone ever came to the house, she was not to say anything.

She concludes that abuse does not just affect your childhood, but your whole life. She would like to help other people by speaking about her experiences with the Truth Project and she hopes that social services and other institutions will do more to pick up on the signs of the abuse.


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