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Experiences Shared

Dina

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

When Dina’s father was due to appear in court charged with sexually abusing her, he was allowed to sit in the waiting room with her.

When she withdrew her allegation against him, she was vilified by the police, social services and her family.

Dina was in her early teens when her father began sexually abusing her. She kept a record of the abuse that was used as evidence in court.

Dina’s mother usually worked in the evenings, and Dina would sit next to her father on the sofa watching television. He started touching her and penetrating her with his finger.

Dina says that when her dad was abusing her, ‘it made him nicer to me’. She thinks it was a number of months before she told her mum. 

Dina’s mum immediately contacted social services. There was a court case, but her dad was with her and her mum in the waiting room beforehand. He persuaded Dina that she should not give evidence in order to keep the family together. He also promised he would not sexually abuse her again.

Confused and frightened, Dina had to give evidence on the stand in open court. She said that she had made it all up. Her father was acquitted and the judge said he could leave court ‘without a stain on his character’. 

Dina says ‘leaving the court was horrible’. As she left, the policeman in charge of the case shouted at her. Dina was not contacted ever again by social services.

Immediately after, Dina’s father began abusing her again. He raped her for the first time, and went on doing so frequently. He would also ply her with vodka. He worked as a caterer, and sometimes took her to work in the barracks and got her drunk.

The court case was reported in the local paper, with enough information for people at school to identify Dina. She was bullied as a result, but no one asked how she was coping with what had happened.

The abuse continued until Dina was 21, when she says she decided ‘I’d had enough’, and moved out. She had some counselling. 

Her family have accused her of attention seeking, and her mother said she had ‘stolen my husband’. 

Dina has mental health issues and has attempted suicide. She has extremely low self-esteem and says she allows herself to be used sexually by men. 

She did embark on a career she loved, but this has been affected by her mental health issues.

Dina is in contact with her father again. He has apologised to her for the abuse, but she says she will not allow him to forget what he did or the effect it has had on her life.

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