Woman Abused By Stepfather Speaks Of Relief At Being Able To Rebuild Her Life

Expert Abuse Lawyers Secure Damages At Court To Provide Support For Life

10/08/2012

A woman subjected to five years of physical and sexual abuse by her stepfather, which continues to haunt her over 30 years on, has spoken of her relief after she was granted a six-figure sum at London’s High Court today (10 August) to provide her with specialist support to help her rebuild her life.

The woman, named Claire*, from Kent, was abused four to eight times a month from the ages of seven to 12 by the civil servant her mum married in 1972. It only stopped after she told a school friend who encouraged her to report the abuse to her head teacher.

Claire’s stepfather was convicted of indecent assault in 1978 and sentenced to a two-year probation order but the abuse has had a devastating effect on her life, leading to her being suicidal, severely depressed, a regular self-harmer and unable to hold down a job or commit to a long-term relationship.

Now in her 40s, Claire contacted specialist child abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have now secured damages of £470,000, approved at the High Court today, to fund her past and present loss of earnings, psychiatric appointments and treatment for the permanent scars on her body from regular self-harming.

Claire said: “My stepfather ruined my life. I only learnt about the conviction when I was in my teens and it gave me little comfort. What he did has haunted me for the last 30 years and it has never become any easier to accept. I seem to have spent most of my life waiting for a final conclusion so I can finally start to rebuild my life.

“It started with physical abuse soon after him and my mum married. He beat me and smothered my food in black pepper. Then it turned sexual. My mum worked shifts so my stepfather was regularly left to care for me. I knew what he was doing was wrong but I was too scared to tell anyone. He told me I would end up in a children’s home if I did.

“I left school with barely any qualifications because I couldn’t concentrate and I’ve struggled to keep jobs because of my psychiatric illness. I have regularly tried to end my life because I just couldn’t see the point anymore.

“The ruling means I can now get help from the best support and psychiatric services and I hope I can finally start to move on with my life.”

Natasha Lewis, a child abuse and serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing Claire, said: “Claire has suffered hugely throughout her life as a result of the actions of a man who was entrusted with her care. She has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, most likely caused by post traumatic stress, which affects her on an almost daily basis.

“We deal with many victims whose lives have been destroyed at the hands of their abusers and, though their needs are varied, in the vast majority of cases they suffer long-term effects and need professional support to help them rebuild their lives.

“Claire remains on anti-depressants and it is only in the last four years that she has stopped making regular suicide attempts. The psychological and physical scars will last forever but Claire is determined to rebuild her life and try to recover from her abusive experiences.

“She wants to get the help she needs to get back to work and the damages approved today will give her this much-needed support. We hope it brings closure to her so she can try and move on from this ordeal.”

*Claire is not her real name. She cannot be identified for legal reasons.