Prescription pills littered the sideboards of the smoke-filled living room; us kids always hungry; the fridge always bare. We were restless, unhappy, but my escape was at my cousin Connor’s house.
My dad would take me every weekend and in the school holidays. But even that escape turned into a nightmare… I remember the first time it happened.
I was ready to go to sleep. Then I felt a hand creep up my leg and follow through until he got to my knickers. He touched me for a while, and then stopped. Then he said, “If you tell anyone, I’ll slice your throat.”
Then he turned around and went to sleep. I cried so much that night. The confusion was unbearable. I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it wasn’t right.
I never mentioned it to anyone. I thought it would be a one off, but the next weekend it happened again. The touching continued every time I stayed there over a two-year period, until things got even worse: I was seven when he finally took my virginity.
We were lying there and instead of just touching, he got on top of me, and said, “don’t make any noise and prepare for bloodshed.” I stayed as still as I could. A knife against my throat, palms sweating, heart beating, but I didn’t let him see me cry. I couldn’t. He would never see me break down emotionally again.
Minutes seemed like hours, then, like before, he turned around and went to sleep. I got up and went to the toilet and wiped myself. There was lots of blood. Tears stung my cheeks. I was too scared to move, and after about ten minutes I wiped my face and went back to the bed.
I was desperate to tell someone, but I was worried that I was to blame in some way. I felt I must have done something wrong. Plus I remembered the good things about him: the laughter; the water fights in the summer. He’s family.
Despite everything, I still love him. My heart is broken.
As I got into my early teens I tried to commit suicide many times: I tried to overdose, and I tried to drown and hang myself, but nothing worked. This made me realise that my life is for a reason. That one day I would be okay.
I had no idea when this abuse would stop, until my dad had a disagreement with my cousin’s family about money. I’ve never been back there again.
Eventually I realised that what happened wasn’t my fault, and I needed to talk to someone. I opened up to my older sister and it felt so good to get it out.
I went through countless police interviews and sexual check ups, but he didn’t get convicted. The case didn’t even get to court. There wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. But the people around me believed me and he isn’t a part of our lives any more.
His image still haunts me to this day… I have nightmares and hide if I see anyone who looks like him in the street, but I am so much stronger now.
Rape is never your fault, but don’t make the mistake I did and blame yourself, and suffer in silence. Find someone you trust, and speak out as soon as you can.
Remember to hold yourself with dignity; no one can take that from you…x
Visit www.rapecrisis.org.uk for further advice and guidance.