The mother of a young rape victim has spoken out about the impact her daughter’s abuse has had on the family.
She said, “I found a note when my daughter was tidying her bedroom. I think she forgot it was there. I asked her about it and she disclosed the information. I felt numb, dead. You don’t really feel anything.
“We went to the police, who took her to give video evidence. It was all a bit of a blur. She had to do two video evidence tapes and we had to deal with crime scene investigators.”
Claire spoke about the deviant and manipulative behaviour the abuser used.
“I didn’t know it was happening. There were no signs. You literally do not know, there were no signs whatsoever.
“He told my daughter they would go to prison if she said anything. He acted like this normal person.
“My daughter was scared she would not be believed. To have that relief at the end of the trial that she was telling the truth was so important for us.
“She is not the same child that’s for sure – it’s completely changed her. As well as destroying her life, it has affected a lot of people.
“She has now got to live a normal life. We have to create a new normal.
“Justice has been served in the criminal system but it has not been served for my daughter, she has got this for life. I am not going to let this affect her. This will make her not break her.
“People should not be scared of speaking out, it is the best evidence to give. My daughter won her case from just her words, her side of the story.”
Claire is now trying to move on from the ordeal but warned other parents who maybe worried.
“I’m going to watch the evidence she gave so I can move forward. I need to know everything now so we can move on for a new future.
“Because of the note we painted her bedroom walls white so she can write anything on them now.
“I think it’s important to give your child a window and say to them ‘if there is anything anyone told you that you can’t say to me, you can always tell me’.
“Ask your children, talk to your children, make them aware it is okay to talk.
“It is not just up to mums to check. It is up to both parents to check their children are ok.
“If you are worried about it, speak out, talk to your children, reassure them they are not going to be in trouble.”
Claire praised the police and support networks which helped her through the trauma. And they are still working with the family after the trial.
“The support of the police service has been brilliant, they have been there phoning to check we are okay and also the support of the Survivors’ Network has really helped.
“Her school knows as well and they have been excellent, the Survivors’ Network go in to give counselling from there too.
“We’ve also used counselling through the Life Centre and at the moment I’m just getting on with it. We have still got the support of the services which is important.”
Victims of sexual abuse charities in Sussex receive ‘vital’ funding
Victims of sexual abuse charities in Sussex have received funding as part of the half-a-million-pound investment made this year by police boss Katy Bourne.
Ambassadors of four charities attended an event for victims of sexual abuse at Sackville House in Lewes this week and received a £135,000 donation between them, with the aim to invest predominantly in more outreach workers and additional counselling support.
The charities include Survivors’ Network, which provides support for victims across Sussex of all ages and specialises in under 18s and 13s; Life Centre, which provides support for all ages in West Sussex; Rape Crisis, which provides support to women and girls in parts of the south east; and Mankind, which provides support to male victims in East Sussex.
Police and crime commissioner for Sussex Katy Bourne said, “We have seen a huge increase in the reporting of sexual offences. There is a real need for specialised help not just for victims of these crimes, but for their families as well.
“This will help fund extra support. We have got child victims on waiting lists, it is a sorry state of affairs.”
According to Sussex Police, since 2015 to 2016 the number of recorded sexual offences has risen from 3136 to 4597 – a 47 per cent increase.
Charity representatives at the meeting said the figures were encouraging but funding is vital to meet the needs of the extra work.
Michele Hyman-Wilson, 50, from the Survivor’s Network, said, “We are so reliant on funding.
“What has been so overwhelming is the generosity of the funders. Without them I just do not know where we would be. It is so important.”
The Survivors’ Network currently has two people providing support in the county, Michele and Louise Petridis.
Michele said, “The more people who know about us will know where to get the help they need. It is so critical to maintain and build on what we are doing.”
Michele and Louise spoke about the accumulating small costs that involve supporting the children and the importance of continuity of care.
They said, “Children need something in their hands as it helps anxiety and helps them talk. We have worry monsters where children write their worries down and put them in the monsters mouth for the parents to read afterwards, it really helps.
“To be able to provide this care and plan for the long term is important. We need to deliver a consistent and stable level of support.”
Kathryn Slatter, 45, boss of Life Centre, also highlighted the importance of funding and the need for more volunteers.
She said, “The quality of care we deliver is really important. We invest £850 into training our volunteers.”
The Life Centre’s philosophy is ‘unlocking the past, surviving the present, reclaiming the future’.
Kathryn said, “We have 27 volunteers at the moment and are training 14 more. People who ring our helplines like to talk to the same voice. It is reassuring for them and being on the end of the phone people tend to be able to open up more.”
Yvonne Traynor, from Rape Crisis, said, “It’s really important we get out into the community and the areas we are covering. We need to get out there and talk to women.
“We have a hub down in Worthing and we hope to open more in East Sussex to make it easier for people to get here. The money will be going on outreach for communities and groups.”