“Now I feel like I don’t have to be ashamed of what happened to me” – sexual abuse victim thanks police after relative is jailed
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A victim of non-recent sexual abuse has thanked our Quest team after her abuser - a member of her own family - was imprisoned for more than a decade.
Julia* was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted between the ages of 12 and 15. Some of the abuse was witnessed by her younger sister.
Julia, who is now in her early 30s, said she lived with the “guilt and shame” for 20 years and felt like she’d been punished for what had happened after becoming estranged from her siblings.
Julia thanked the Quest team - who specialise in investigating non-recent sexual abuse within families – and said the support she’d received from Detective Constable Jane Egerton had been “exceptional”.
The mental scars Julia carried into adult life affected her marriage, and the birth of her first child triggered panic attacks and nightmares.
When the abuse became common knowledge within her family and Julia became pregnant again, she decided to contact the police.
She said: “When I saw the impact and horror of it coming out in my family, I realised how wrong it was that he was just carrying on living his life.
“I was looking up historic cases online and I thought it was my last chance to gain control of something I’d harboured and kept to myself for twenty years. I couldn’t keep a lid on my feelings.
“I’d been building it up every morning when I was at work, and just thought that I’d got to do this. I sat in the car, had a little cry, and made the call.”
After contacting the Quest team, Julia sadly lost her baby. This prompted her to press on with the case.
“I had a miscarriage. I was sitting in hospital thinking that this is an awful time, so I might as well deal with everything that’s bad in my life. I called Jane from hospital and said I’d like to progress this now.
“I still remember the drive to go and meet Jane. She was so compassionate.
“After I gave my statement things happened very quickly. Jane and Shirley (Detective Sergeant Shirley Cole) had done so much work.
“I got the phone call to say they were going to arrest him on my wedding anniversary.”
Julia said DC Egerton was in frequent contact and almost had a sixth sense for when she was in need of reassurance.
“I felt comfortable that I was talking to someone who understood and believed me. I didn’t feel like I was having to prove something. Both her and Shirley have been so comforting.”
Julia said one of the hardest aspects of dealing with the abuse has been trying to have to maintain a sense a normality.
“It was exhausting. Even when it was happening, you begin to build a double-faced life. There’s the darkness and awfulness of what’s happening, but you still have to get up and go to school and meet up with friends.
“That continued into my adult life. It still something I’m working on. I’ve spent my whole life building this false ‘I’m OK’ exterior when I’m not.
“I still remember when I started a job about ten years ago, I would stand in the lift every morning, tell myself that nobody knows, and put my face on. It concretes that you’re having to live as two people.”
When the case came to court, Julia said the preparatory work DC Egerton and DS Cole did with her was vital.
“I’ve gone from telling two people to standing up and sharing it in a roomful of people. We had a unanimous jury and I just kept thinking, ‘Everybody believe me.’
“The biggest reason I saw it through was the support I got from Jane and Shirley and the wider team. I can’t even put into words how much I thank them.
“I’m thankful that he was found guilty and that the sentence is substantial enough so that in a couple of years I don’t have to prepare for him coming out.
“He took my childhood, my innocence away and replaced it with fear, hate and lifetime worth of angst.
“He’s been found guilty, I was believed, and it’s long enough that I don’t have to worry. I can build myself back up.
“Now I feel like I don’t have to be ashamed of what happened to me; he needs to be ashamed. Now everybody knows what he did.”
Julia hopes that by sharing her story, she’ll encourage other victims to come forward.
“If anyone is in my situation, they’ll be able to Google this and it will give them some hope. If somebody else can relate to my story and take that first step by contacting the police, then that’s a good thing.”
If you believe you, or someone else, are in immediate danger please call 999. We are here to help and keep you safe.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.