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Experiences Shared

Janice

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Janice’s father served in the armed forces and her family lived in military accommodation.

She says she can’t remember a time in her childhood when abuse was not happening in one form or another.

Janice describes her mother as an ‘emotional terrorist’ who regularly beat her children and neglected them. She remembers that ‘we were governed by her moods’ and that she used to buy her mother alcohol to avoid beatings. 

Janice says her older sister was sexually abused by her father, and when Janice was about 11 years old, he began sexually abusing her too. She is convinced their mother knew about this, adding that she used to tell her daughters to ‘do exactly what your father tells you’. 

The abuse occurred regularly for about three years. Sometimes her father would make Janice’s brothers watch him abusing their sister. It ended after her older sister attempted suicide. She remembers saying to her father ‘This has got to stop’.

Her parents separated not long after and the children continued to live a troubled life with their mother until they were old enough to leave home. 

Janice discovered later in her life that her father was convicted of indecent assault when she was about nine years old. He attempted suicide and had a breakdown, which led to him leaving the armed forces. 

She knows that occasionally people around the family expressed concern about the children, but she says her mother was very aggressive towards them and their intervention went no further. The priest from their local church regularly visited their home, as did a local policeman who was a friend of the family. Janice says they were ‘well aware’ of at least the physical abuse, but did nothing. 

Janice left home as soon as she could and says that she blocked out memories of the sexual abuse she had suffered. Many years later, it all came ‘flooding back’ to her when she was interviewed by police about her sister’s claims of sexual abuse by their father.

Being interviewed was extremely traumatic for Janice and caused her huge anxiety. Her relationships with her siblings have been badly affected by their history of abuse. She finds it difficult to trust people and says she is ‘terrified’ of conflict.

However, Janice says she counts herself as ‘very lucky’. She is happily married and is close with her family, despite having been over-protective of them at times. She has had some counselling which she says was helpful.

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