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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Daisy’s early recollections of her childhood are that her parents cared for her emotionally and physically. But when she was 10 or 11 years old, she began to experience fear and to develop obsessive compulsive disorder.

After talking to a school friend, she realised her life wasn’t as normal as she had thought and that her grandfather had been sexually abusing her since she was very young.

At this revelation, Daisy says ‘My family life exploded.’ Her parents attended a family appointment with a counsellor, who recommended cognitive behavioural therapy and medication for Daisy, which had significant side effects

She tried to kill herself and recalls ‘shouting at people a lot, trying desperately to be heard, but … no one protected me from my grandfather.’

The police became involved, but Daisy did not want to go to court as she felt that she was ‘in no fit state’ to attend. Daisy was aware of another family member who was abused by her grandfather and knew that he was self-employed in a position working with children, meaning other children were potentially at risk. As an adult she reported her grandfather to the police and after being ‘passed from police force to police force’ was advised they would not take it further because it was ‘historic’ abuse.

Daisy’s parents both suffered a breakdown and asked for her to be taken into care for a respite period. She says the failure of the local authority to provide support, guidance or a care placement resulted in her becoming homeless and vulnerable to further abuse.

She relates how her behaviour deteriorated, changing from a ‘nice, kind girl’ who was identified as highly intelligent, to someone who was recognised as being vulnerable by an older man. This man groomed her, then severely physically and sexually abuse her and introduced her to drugs. 

By the age of 15, Daisy was taking crack cocaine and was homeless, ending up in a warehouse in London ‘in dangerous situations with dangerous people’. She became dependent on a second abuser for food and shelter, and this person beat her, raped her and imprisoned her in a house.

Daisy recalls that a number of people called social services to raise concerns: ‘teachers, my parents, even members of the public called in to say I was on the street with an older man, as they thought I was a prostitute. So they knew. They couldn’t have had more evidence.’

Daisy said she approached multiple organisations for help throughout this time: ‘I had no food, no shelter, I’m starving, I need a shower, I’d call Childline, I’d go to the police, to doctors, I’d go to homeless hostels and council buildings. I’d get put in foster care overnight and then I returned … No one would help me.’

She says her abuser ‘had so much power over me. And he knew that. He would abuse and torture me and say “no one cares about you. No one has ever cared about you.” He almost killed me twice.’

After an extremely savage assault which left her seriously injured, Daisy was referred by a doctor to a specialist organisation where she received therapy. When she met with a therapist, Daisy said she was unable to speak: ‘It felt bleak, grey, dark, I was a mess. It’s hard to describe it.’ With support, she has managed to piece together the timeline of the abuse she experienced in her childhood.

She has made a complaint against the council concerned, and an independent investigation outlined over 30 findings, and recommended she should receive an apology, compensation and be provided with a supportive package of care. But it took three years for the council to admit liability and she says ‘That was devastating for my recovery.’

Although she was awarded some compensation, which she has not spent, no apology or package of care has been offered.

Court proceedings took place against Daisy’s second abuser, but she was refused the opportunity to give evidence. She was told that she was too unwell and that the defence would ‘crucify’ her.

Daisy now works as a youth worker and encounters young women who are being abused and being passed from agency to agency. She feels strongly that things need to change, pointing out that regarding sexual abuse ‘Prevention is the best approach, as when it happens it’s a life sentence.’ 

Daisy feels let down by the police and the justice system and would like to see a overhaul of both the civil and criminal courts so they are more survivor focused and recognise the needs of survivors with mental health difficulties. ‘I have nightmares about the violence and the abuse and now I have nightmares about that day in the court. Rather than putting it right it was just another time I was traumatised, another layer of trauma.’

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