Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Eva

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Eva lived with her parents and older sibling, and describes her family as ‘respectable and middle class’.

She thinks this facade is the reason that many professionals missed the signs that she was being physically and sexually abused. 

Eva says she lived in a nice house, with articulate professional parents, and she was doing well at school. But her father had a terrible temper and when she was about eight years old, he started becoming violent towards her. Not long after, he began to sexually abuse her, often with the threat of violence.

During the time she was abused, Eva relates, she was so fearful that she would sit with her back against the bedroom door, holding her hand over a tealight to keep herself awake. She says she really believed that her father might kill her.

She remembers social services became involved with the family after an episode of physical abuse by her father. She also knows that when she was 12 she was placed on the ‘At risk’ register, under the category of physical harm. She can remember being blamed for her father losing his temper, and also having to sit between her parents in a case conference.

Eva feels that because her mother was a professional, her view was given more weight, while she was seen as the difficult teenager and angry young person.

The sexual abuse stopped when she was in her early teens years as she became able to fight back. But the physical abuse got worse from both her parents and continued for a couple of years. After an argument with her father, she was thrown out of the house. It was winter and she slept outdoors for three nights, until a teacher realised something was wrong and contacted social services. This was an important turning point for Eva. She believes that school staff need to have training to identify signs of sexual abuse.

From this point on, Eva stayed in care until she went to university. She had no contact with her family, but during a bout of depression, she talked about her experiences to her foster carer. A police investigation followed and her father was convicted of rape and served a prison sentence. She says her mother and her sibling still believe he was wrongly convicted.

She says her experience has had a significant impact on her life and mental health. She remarks that the reason she didn’t take her own life is because she was ‘too stubborn’ to let her parents’ narrative of her as ‘the crazy one’ prevail.  

Eva feels very strongly that children and young people should be able to speak to professionals without their parents present. She says if young people are angry, the causes should be examined. 

She stresses the importance of organisations and professionals sharing information and not taking things at face value or making assumptions about people. 

 

Your privacy

There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.