Charley's story How Childline helped Charley break the silence around her sexual abuse

"My step-father came to live with us when I was 2. My mum said that I didn't like him even then, so I must have sensed that he wasn't a good person.

"He was a violent alcoholic who regularly beat my mum up. The sound of the key turning in the lock after he had been at the pub all day on a Sunday filled us all with dread.

"When I was 4 he asked me to perform a sex act on him. I'll never forget that moment. I still remember what I was wearing. Afterwards he told me not to tell anyone. He said 'Your mum won't believe you, and if you do tell her I will kill you'.

"It carried on from there and got worse. He also made my brother and I do things to each other while he watched. I knew what he was doing was wrong. I kept fighting back and saying that I didn't want to do it but he continued to beat me. I used to beg my mum to leave him but she said she didn't know where else to go.

"I knew what he was doing was wrong. I kept fighting back and saying that I didn't want to do it but he continued to beat me."
Charley

"I felt very isolated and didn't know who to tell. I was kept a prisoner in the house; the only time I could go out was to go to school, so school became my sanctuary. But he often kept me off school to abuse me while my mum was at work. As soon as he said I wasn't going in that day my heart would fill with dread.

"When I was 10 I tried to kill myself by taking an overdose of tablets. My mum had come home early from work and found me. I was rushed to the hospital and had my stomach pumped. My mum didn't ask me why I did it. She and my step-father just told me to tell the psychiatrist that I was depressed as I had to look after my half-brothers a lot. I got pregnant at 14 as a result of the abuse. They paid for me to have an abortion at a private clinic. But I was never asked who the father was.

"I absolutely used to dread Christmas. I just prayed for the holiday to be over."
Charley

"Most children my age looked forward to Christmas - but I never did. My step-father was a drunkard and the more drunk he got, the more nasty and violent he became. Knowing that I would be off from school and that he would be drinking more was horrible. I absolutely used to dread Christmas. I just prayed for the holiday to be over.

"Christmas Eve was probably the worst because my step-father would go to the pub, get drunk, come home, beat my mum up, and then beat us up. He would then sexually abuse me. When he was drunk the sexual abuse was 10 times worse and went on for hours.

"I ran away from home when I was 17 and lived rough for a while. After a few months, I got a bedsit and a job. I became friends with a woman called Alison and one day we started talking about abuse. I broke down in tears and told her what happened and she encouraged me to call Childline.

"I didn't know what to expect and thought I was too old to call but I was reassured that I wasn't. I spoke to a woman called Veronica who sounded so kind."
Charley

"I was terrified to call Childline at first. I was worried about how it would affect the rest of the family, so it was important to me that I didn't have to give my full details. I didn't know what to expect. I thought I was too old to call but I was reassured that I wasn't.

"I spoke to a woman called Veronica who sounded so kind. I knew that if I didn't get it all out I'd do something really bad to myself. So I told her everything. I was worried that if I didn't I'd end my own life. I was tearful and broken up but knowing that she believed me really helped. She said that he shouldn't be allowed to get on with his life while I suffered. She encouraged me to call the police. I thought about it a lot and decided to do it.

"My step-father was taken to trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and served 6. I don't think it's enough for what he did. I suffered from anorexia, bulimia and depression because of his actions and went through some tough years.

"I've managed to stay strong and be a decent person though. I really do believe Veronica from Childline, and having my own child, saved my life."


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