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Experiences Shared

Holly

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Holly grew up in a farming community. She was sexually abused by a man who was friendly with her parents.

She feels more should be done to raise awareness of sexual abuse in rural areas. 

When Holly was in her early teens she began working in a local takeaway restaurant owned by a man called George. He began offering to give her a lift home when her shift finished, and within a short space of time, he was sexually abusing her.

The abuse began with touching, and escalated to rape. It continued for many years and during this time, George built up a friendship with Holly’s parents. At the same time, she felt increasingly intimidated by him. 

She did not have a good relationship with her parents, and their friendship with George made it even more difficult for her to say anything about the abuse. 

In her mid teens, Holly took an overdose. A teacher did talk to her about this, but she still didn’t feel able to say she was being abused. 

She went to university but she felt so trapped by the situation that when she came home, George continued to abuse her. In her final year, she developed a serious eating disorder and she thinks this may have been triggered by the prospect of having to move back home when she finished her degree.

To avoid returning home, she continued studying. She began seeing a psychotherapist about her eating disorder, and disclosed the abuse. With support from the psychotherapist she ended her contact with George. 

The following year she reported him to the police and he was arrested and interviewed. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not proceed with the case. 

Holly says that being sexually abused and raped from her early teens has caused many difficulties in her life. She says ‘I don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like’. It affected her physical and mental health, but she says she is now moving forwards and pursuing her career. 

She believes that awareness of sexual abuse needs to be focused in rural communities, and that specialist support should be available for victims and survivors involved in investigations, including cases where the CPS do not proceed with a prosecution.

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