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Experiences Shared

Floure

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Floure suffered such violent physical abuse by her stepmother that she sometimes had to go to hospital.

When her stepmother began working away from home, Floure’s father used these times to sexually abuse her. 

Floure grew up in the 1960s and 70s. She explains that she was placed in care when she was a baby, then returned at the age of seven years to live with her father after he remarried. 

Her stepmother was extremely violent towards Floure and her siblings; she used implements on them and they regularly suffered black eyes, broken bones and split lips. Floure was knocked unconscious by her stepmother on a few occasions. Their father also beat the children sometimes. 

When Floure was about 13, her stepmother began working away from home quite often. Floure shared a room with her younger sister and she remembers being woken in the night by her father removing her underwear and telling her to lie still. She says ‘that was the point my life crashed’. It was the first night her father sexually abused her and taught her ‘new lessons in fear’.

He continued sexually abusing her regularly, even when her sister was in bed with her. 

Floure vividly recalls going to school the next day with ‘everything seeming so normal’, while in her head was ‘panic’. There was a teacher she liked and wanted to tell, but she felt she couldn’t. 

She became terrified of being left with her father, but thought nobody would believe her if she spoke about what was happening. She and her siblings had previously told social workers about the physical abuse they suffered, and were beaten by their parents as a punishment.

When Floure was 15, her younger sister told their stepmother about the sexual abuse. Floure was interviewed by a male and female social worker. The questions they asked her included whether she wore ‘skimpy clothing’ or came out of the bathroom naked. 

After this, she went to stay with a friend. Her father died a year later. She says he apologised to her a week before he died. 

Floure was sent to live in a children’s home. Here, a female member of staff, Jenny, began to sexually abuse her.

Floure believes that Jenny sexually abused other girls in the home. She says Jenny would help to wash them and offer to show them how to insert a tampon. 

The sexual abuse stopped when Floure was 18 and moved to a women’s hostel, but Jenny continued to stalk and control her. 

Following a suicide attempt when she was 18, Floure began therapy. She was encouraged to report the sexual abuse to social services and Jenny was suspended, but was allowed to return to work after a short investigation.  

Some time after this, Floure told the police she had been abused by Jenny. She feels the police believed her. They arrested Jenny but no charges followed. 

Nightmares, insomnia and feelings of panic and shame have plagued Floure since she was first abused. Her mental health has been seriously affected and she has attempted suicide on many occasions. She feels the abuse has affected all her relationships and her life opportunities. 

Floure believes schools should make sure they see parents and notice the interaction between them and their children. She says that her father and stepmother never went to her school for parents’ evenings or any other meetings.

She believes that too often a low value is put on children in care because of negative stereotypes. She suggests children in the care system should have access to independent psychologists several times a year. She thinks children’s homes should have systems to monitor activity, particularly at night time.  

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