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All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Stacey describes her early childhood growing up in a family that was ‘wealthy and stable’. But their fortunes changed when she was six years old and her parents struggled to look after her and her siblings.

After a few years in care, Stacey and her siblings were fostered by her uncle. This man abused and raped her, resulting in her becoming pregnant.

Stacey remembers her uncle’s house being ‘disgustingly dirty’. Stacey was subjected to sexual, physical and psychological abuse by her uncle. He would push her up against the wall and touch her, and if she resisted, he would hurt her younger brother. She says she was ‘treated like Cinderella – expected to cook and clean and look after everyone’.

Stacey tried to report what was happening to the children’s department, but she couldn’t find the right words to describe the abuse. She remembers being told that she was being ‘ungrateful’ to the man who was looking after her. A social worker did visit her uncle while she was at school but that led to a severe beating.

One day her uncle ‘gleefully’ informed her that her father had died. Soon after he began to rape her. She recalls on one occasion waking to find him on top of her in bed while her little sister slept nearby; she believes that her uncle had ‘spiked’ her drink earlier in the night. This continued regularly for two years. Her uncle tortured her brother and sister if Stacey didn’t respond to his abuse in the way he demanded. She says she found out later that he was also raping her little brother. 

When her uncle allowed her to go to school, Stacey did well, but she was frequently prevented from attending. Her uncle would lock her in the attic and here she found a violin and began to teach herself to play. She says the violin and her strong faith is what kept her alive.

When Stacey was a young teenager, she became pregnant. Initially she didn’t understand what was happening to her and her uncle tried to give her ‘stuff’ so she would lose the baby. Frightened and unsure what to do, Stacey reported at school that she had ‘been with boys’. The police became involved, but she was too scared to confirm their suspicions about her uncle.

Her uncle then moved the family to a different house and kept Stacey and her siblings locked inside. Social services tracked them down and the children were removed from her uncle’s care. The younger children were sent to one of the children’s homes that Stacey had been placed in, and where she knew there had been ‘horrendous’ abuse of children, and she was sent to an unmarried mothers’ home. She describes the conditions there as appalling and says she became very ill. Her uncle visited her regularly and continued abusing her.

In the hospital where she gave birth, Stacey remembers being treated very badly by staff. She feels they tried to make the experience so unpleasant for her that she wouldn’t want to make the same ‘mistake’ again. After Stacey gave birth, the baby was then removed from her care. It was several decades later when she saw her daughter again.

Stacey was placed in a foster home that she says was ‘good’. However, her uncle would visit to see her, and her foster mother initially thought it was ‘wonderful that he was keeping in touch’. Her uncle began to pressure Stacey to meet him, saying that he would hurt her brother and sister if she didn’t agree. Eventually Stacey broke her silence and told her foster mother that her uncle was the father of her baby.

Her uncle was arrested and stood trial. Stacey had to give evidence, which she found extremely difficult. Her uncle threatened her to keep quiet and walked back and forth past her as she waited to go into court. She was still a child and did not understand the court processes.

In his defence at court, her uncle claimed that Stacey had seduced him, saying ‘that he was a normal man and had been unable to resist’. He added that if she had not enjoyed what was happening, she wouldn’t have stayed with him. The judge who presided over the case branded Stacey a ‘scheming little Lolita’. Her uncle was found guilty of sexual assault, not rape.  

Stacey says that her treatment by the police, social workers and the court system was as ‘nightmarish’ as the abuse she suffered, adding that although she was still a child, she was treated as a criminal. Stacey wants an apology and compensation from the county council for their failings.

However, in later years she did rebuild her life, winning a scholarship to a leading musical academy. She became a successful business woman and has worked in organisations helping people who have suffered experiences like her own. 

She is married with a family but says the pain of her past has affected her relationship with her son. Although she and her daughter were reconciled for a while, she says her daughter is unable to cope with the circumstances of their history. Stacey loves her daughter deeply. She has two granddaughters, but they do not know of her existence.


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