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Maud

Maud

Maud says ‘I had to suffer for another two years’ because an abuse suspect was allowed access to her

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Maud’s mother’s boyfriend was arrested for sexually abusing a young girl, but was permitted to stay living in Maud’s home.

He continued sexually abusing Maud until the case came to trial.

Maud grew up in the 1970s and 80s. From the first time she met her mother’s boyfriend Steven, she thought he was ‘weird’. She was 10 years old at the time, and he kept putting his arm around her.

She says ‘He always seemed to be there at the house every day … he never seemed to go home’. She adds ‘I suppose I was a bit jealous at first because mum had been a single parent, and I played up a bit, but he became part of the furniture’.

Steven began to sexually abuse Maud almost immediately. She describes how he would stare at her and make her feel uncomfortable, and try and persuade her to sit on his knee, which she didn’t like. He started play-fighting with her, tickling her between her legs and ‘accidentally’ touching her breasts and bottom. 

Maud told her mother what Steven was doing but her mother blamed her and dismissed her. ‘I could never understand why she would take his word over mine’ she says.

Steven then moved in permanently. ‘Things went horribly wrong from there’, she says. He started raping Maud. She remembers ‘I was wearing my favourite nightie, of all things’. 

He continued sexually abusing Maud every day, groping or raping her. He was also very violent and intimidating towards her. He told her there was no point reporting him to the police because no one would believe her, and he threatened to kill her and her mum if she did report him. 

Maud would stay out to avoid him and she started drinking, taking drugs and smoking. ‘Just so I wasn’t in.’ 

When she was 13, Maud was admitted to hospital with a gynaecological infection. A doctor realised she was ‘sexually active’ and asked her about it, and he got some of the nurses to try and find out more. Maud says she felt she could not tell the truth because of Steven’s threats. ‘In the end I think he thought I was a promiscuous child’ she says.

At school, Maud says, she was ‘invisible’; she sat at the back of the class and focused on getting through each day. Her school reports commented on her lack of attention to her work. Her mother did all she could to isolate Maud from her friends and checked up on her interactions with them.

One day, the police arrived at the family home and arrested Steven for abusing another girl. Maud was at home at the time, in her school uniform, but the police didn’t ask her any questions or seem to consider she might be at risk. 

In the time it took for the case to go to court, Steven continued living in Maud’s family home and he continued sexually abusing Maud. She says ‘It could have stopped then, but I had to suffer for another two years’.

Steven was eventually convicted, given a suspended sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ register. He still had contact with Maud because her mother continued seeing him.

Maud says one of the hardest parts to accept was that her mother did not protect her from the abuse. On one occasion, Steven encouraged Maud’s mother to join in the sexual abuse, and she did. Maud says ‘That is one of the things that has affected me most’. 

As an adult, she reported Steven to the police twice. The first time she gave a long statement, but an officer accused her of having an affair with Steven and making the report ‘to get back at him’. On the second occasion, a few years later, the police did investigate. He was convicted of sexually abusing Maud and sent to prison for several years. For a long time after he was released, he continued to stalk and intimidate Maud.

Maud feels she was let down by the police, the justice system and her school. She says professionals who work with children need to look closely at the reasons for changes in behaviour, and the police should be more diligent in investigating child abuse cases.

She suffers with low self-esteem and finds it hard to trust people and maintain relationships. ‘I don’t interact with people; I just muddle through’ she says. She thinks she would be seen as ‘an over-controlling mother’ because she is so concerned to protect her children. She has several scars from the injuries that Steven inflicted on her. 

Maud has had some counselling and she has decided to go to college. 

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