Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Yvonne

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Yvonne grew up in a disrupted family. Before she was in her teens, she had been subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of three men.

Her father, who had physically abused Yvonne and her siblings, took his own life when she was about four or five years old.

She has few other memories of him, but she recalls the consequences of his death; all her siblings ended up in care and her mother began a succession of relationships with different men.

Yvonne was the only child left at home and her mother’s boyfriend, Jimmy, began sexually abusing her.

He would sit her on his knee, touching her and kissing her, sometimes when others were present. She says they never seemed to notice, or if they did, they did nothing about it.

Social services were involved with the family, but one day Jimmy told them not to come back to the house and they stopped visiting.

Yvonne refused to go to school because she wanted to be at home with her mother.

She says there were many meetings and interventions by education personnel and social services, but no one asked her what was wrong.

She remembers being taken for medical examinations but is not sure why and was never asked about her home life.

The sexual abuse by Jimmy continued until she was about 11 years old.

Jimmy had a stepdaughter and Yvonne asked her if Jimmy had ever touched her or ‘made her do things’.

The stepdaughter denied it and told Jimmy what Yvonne had said.  He came to the house in a rage and assaulted Yvonne. 

After that Jimmy disappeared and it was many years before Yvonne heard about him again.

Yvonne and her sister were also sexually abused by another family member.

He would take them for rides in the car to the woods where among other things, he would ‘teach them how to kiss properly’. He would make them watch him when he was in the shower, giving them chocolate while they sat there. Yvonne still can’t stand to see that brand of chocolate.

The third abuser in Yvonne’s life was a family friend and acquaintance of Jimmy and the other family member.

He would visit the house and sexually abused Yvonne. She now thinks it is likely the three of them collaborated in the abuse of her.

When she was a young teenager, Yvonne began a relationship with a man in his late 20s who was another friend of the family.

She says she was looking for an escape and a father figure and it is only now, looking back, that she understands it was likely he also groomed her.

Social services knew about the relationship, but Yvonne denied it was sexual. She had a child as a result of her relationship with the man.

When Yvonne was an adult, the police approached her after Jimmy's stepdaughter reported her own sexual abuse to them.

Yvonne gave a statement but soon after the police said the matter would not proceed to court as Jimmy was terminally ill.

She felt angry that Jimmy had got away with it, and when she heard several years ago that he had died, she felt considerable distress.

She sought help from services supporting survivors of sexual abuse and subsequently began attending a victims and survivors group.

She says she heard many accounts of poor treatment victims and survivors have received in the criminal justice system and believes that needs to be much better understanding and support for victims during court processes.

Yvonne continues to attend the support group and has found comfort in sharing her experiences and being able to talk to others about it. She thinks there should be more funding for similar support groups.

She says she has felt very angry for most of her life that no one in authority intervened to help her.

She has suffered depression but says she has always tried ‘put on a brave face’.

Yvonne does not blame her mother, as she feels her mother suffered enough herself in abusive relationships. She really wants to see her social services and medical records but has been told they no longer exist or are missing.

After finding out from police that Jimmy and possibly one of her other abusers went on to abuse many more children. Yvonne has felt guilty and greatly upset by thinking she should have spoken out sooner or done something about it when she was younger.

Through her work with support services, she has begun to realise that she was just a child, and not to blame for what happened. She finds writing poetry helpful in dealing with her feelings and emotions and takes great comfort in spending time with her grandchildren.

She hopes that by sharing her experiences with the Truth Project, she might be able to help others, She says ‘What’s important is having the voice, being believed, being heard, not being that child anymore.’

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