Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Lynne

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Lynne grew up in a military family, and regular house moves added to her sense of insecurity. She is now a campaigner for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Her father began to sexually abuse Lynne, the oldest of three children, before she was school age. This continued until she was in her mid-teens. She says her mother was aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it. ‘She was a very weak woman’, says Lynne, ‘a victim too, in a way’. 

Lynne says that growing up in a military family was insular and she still feels quite institutionalised by the experience. She remembers trying to run away once as a little girl when the family lived on a small coastal island but realising there was nowhere to run to.

She says ‘I used to dread going home’.

When Lynne was sent to a boarding school she saw it as the escape that she had been looking for. She tried calling Childline after seeing a television advert in the common room but was never able to get through to speak to anyone.

Eventually she found the courage to tell a school friend, then the school counsellor and the house mistress, that her father had abused her. The response to her disclosure was to remove her from the school and send her back home.

Lynne says that after that she has a ‘bit of a block’ on her memories of life, but that ‘lots of things happened’.

When she tried to kill herself by taking an overdose her mother contacted social services and, again, Lynne disclosed the abuse she was suffering at the hands of her father. However, after intense pressure from her father and threats that she would put him in prison, Lynne retracted her statement.

Lynne moved into adulthood and away from her family and says she feels she has been trying to get help ever since. She tried to report the abuse to the police when she was in her mid-20s.

By this time, she was in a violent and abusive relationship with a criminal and feels her disclosure was not taken seriously because of her connection to her partner.

The police said that they could not take further action because of a lack of evidence but Lynne believes that the basic information should have been enough to try.

She sought some help from a rape crisis centre and, with a counsellor’s support, ended her abusive relationship and moved away from the area with her young child.

Lynne had her second child and a few years later she met and married a man ‘very quickly’. She was horrified to discover that her husband was sexually abusing her youngest child. She says ‘I ended up marrying a man like my father’.

She reported the abuse to social services and the police, but was told by the police that, because of her child’s age, her evidence would not stand up in court. This prompted a mental health breakdown for Lynne; one of several she has suffered.

Despite all the obstacles Lynne encountered, she recently reported her father’s abuse to the police again. This time, says Lynne, the police have been ‘really good’. She has been offered support, including the services of an independent sexual violence advocate. Her father has been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Lynne has not had a relationship with her family since she was a teenager, but her oldest sibling contacted her a few years ago and told her of fragmented memories of similar abuse by their father.

Lynne questions why it was so hard to get the support she needed, but still considers herself ‘one of the lucky ones’. She has never had to rely on drink or drugs to help her cope in the way that some survivors she has met have needed to.

A charity that works with survivors of child sexual abuse asked Lynne if she would consider sharing her experiences as a way of supporting others and she is now involved in campaigning on the subject.

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