Happily ever after

Dedication: Those in need of hope

Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it includes references to child abuse, sexual assault, and rape.

“One day you will be the end of me” he whispered as he glared at me. ” no Dad, I love you” I replied, yet secretly I was thinking of only how much I hated him.

Little did I know at the time that moment was the realisation of what had happened to me, as soon as I grew old enough and responsible enough to understand what it meant. He knew even then that what he was doing was wrong! That one sentence proved it and gave me the last piece of strength I needed to finally tell the truth about my childhood, to finally cut the albatross from upon my neck that had hung so heavy for so long. Some scars inside never heal but what I have lived through has helped me put my bad memories to bed and pull a positive from a negative. I never ever thought I would get away from what I lived in and still I have to pinch myself to make sure it is all real.

When I read the paper or books of others misfortune it puts so much into perspective for me. Abuse is abuse no matter the difference in seriousness. It ultimately can destroy a person forever or make a person forever, depending on the mind of the individual. I want to tell my story as I truly believe it may help people, or even just one person become a little stronger if they are on a journey I was thought was never ending.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was very happy.
Life was good and I was surrounded by all my family, which was good as my mom was not a motherly mother. She was often at the pub where she worked or out and about and I remember my aunts and uncles being the ones that showed me most love. My mother had me at a young age and never cuddled, kissed or showed me a quarter of the love she showed my younger sister. My sisters dad brought me up and to this day is the greatest man and I am so proud to have him as my dad. He lived with us until I was eight or nine and I am so grateful that he did as he gave me the memories I can talk about with other people, the fond ones about the parents. Not long after My mom had made him leave she brought home this man, we called him the milky bar kid. He was all smiley and he stunk of aftershave he was very young looking and was around eleven years older than me, I was nine. This man was called Davey Kevin James.

He started playing with me and my sister he was really nice, if I’m honest we quite like him. This lasted about six weeks, but Mom was smitten. They often went to the pub at weekends and it wasn’t long before fights happened amongst the family which he caused so he could distance Diane from the family she had always been so close too. One night I woke to loud voices, it was my mom, Diane crying and Davey was shouting at her. Diane was usually so vocal and extremely good at looking after herself but it sounded like she was scared. I got out of my bed and saw Davey standing over my mom hitting her. “Get off her” I screamed, that was the first and last time I ever got out of bed to get involved in an argument I could overhear from my room.
First of all let it be known that I am a survivor. No matter the journey there I will survive it, what ever it takes.

It wasn’t long before we moved from the house we had grown up in, away from the family that loved us and close to a family I am glad to never have to see again. Davey had assaulted my grandad which caused a big family feud, we were told that we were no longer allowed to talk to any of them. You may think well how is that possible?, but when you fear someone and their punishment you tend to do exactly what you are told! As soon as we moved our surnames were changed and even though we lived in a small town we were not allowed to talk to most members of my mothers family I loved so much and always knew that if they knew what he was doing to us they could help, but yet you are always to scared, embarrassed and groomed to ever tell a soul. I wish I could explain the fear but you only know it if your in it. It’s a mixture of extreme shame, overpowering sorrow and a fear that it will always go that bit further. Obeying the rules because the consequences of breaking them are your burden and trying to be in a mainstream school acting like a normal child when really your so messed up you just want to scream out loud but you can’t. Most importantly you are the eldest sibling and the thought of leaving the others behind is the main reason that You stay silent.

Many factors made up the reasons why I could not tell people what was going on. First of all this man was married to my mother and as the years had passed they had children together, which were always looked after by me. The control he had over her was unimaginable and this control he still holds even from his prison cell. I cannot go over the things I witnessed happen to my mother as she is still married to this man who raped and abused me for nine years. I felt that if I had told someone and they didn’t believe or they told my step father what I had said the punishment would be awful. For the first couple years my abuse was just physical and it would be a slap, a punch or a smack with the belt. It wasn’t until I got to about twelve when I started to realise the relationship started to change and he would touch me in inappropriate places. He would pinch my developing breasts or pull my trousers down thinking it was funny, then one day when he was play fighting with me I accidentally elbowed him between the legs to which he responded “that’s more like it”. I think it was from that moment I knew his intentions and felt utterly sick and nervous. This nervousness grew into a emotion that would grow immensely over the next few years and would stay with me for a very long time. The more he would pretend to play the further he would push the boundaries by placing my hands into the private regions of his body and the gestures he made showed enjoyment even when I cried or showed much displeasure of what was occurring he would turn it by making out it’s what I wanted and I was just too scared to disagree as even though this sexual abuse was not happening in front of anyone the punishment for not going along with him was dished out in front of other people. He would be horrible to me but extra nice to all the other kids in the house, I would not be aloud out, I would have to be the mother of the house, cook clean babysit, take the beating, having secret visits while I was in bed constant whispers of what was to come, and threats of what would happen if I did not obey.

Over time I have developed a great blocking mechanism so when I look back I cannot put days, times or exact precision on any thing, I just have this massive recollection of memories that tell my story. I felt for so long I could not explain it to any one else but when I did talk to the police they helped me piece together all these different recollections and finally find the courage to stand tall and tell people what I had been through. If I told my story, just the truth and no lies people could form their own opinion and decide if they thought it was right or wrong. I never pretend to be a saint many wrongs has it took to make me right but now I’m there I want to share it, and even if one person only was able to be inspired or helped then it has played its purpose.

Unconditional love is the most powerful emotion one can feel for another and it is something I have given out but never felt myself until now. As a mother at the instant I knew there was life inside me an unconditional love formed finally I knew what it was and knew what a real mother was. Blessed I felt, so mesmerised by the beauty I created I knew it no longer mattered that I had never received it because I could give it. The strength it gave me was sensational. I knew while it is in my power no harm will ever come to my children and no one who would bring harm to a child should be heard about. My journey began on February 8th 2008 when I finally went forward to the police and explained to them why I felt I had been violated. Their reaction helped my thought process begin to manifest into reality and realisation of what had happened. You always think differently when you holding in, the thought of others reactions are unreal and drive you quietly insane but only when you open up do you realise.

First you realise that talking helps, well it did for me but that may not be the way for everyone. When you say it out loud you begin to realise the abuse for what it really is instead of feeling it is a dirty secret you have to carry until you die. The reactions of others is also something that made me become capable of opening up more and more. My support network, which was small but extremely effective listened to me so many times and picked me up every time I fell. I will never be able to show them the appreciation I have for what they put up with when being my friend throughout is whole time. When I first decided to go forward about my childhood it was February 2008. I had no idea at that time that this would lead to a three year ordeal that became the hardest battle of my life, yet he most worth while. I gave a brief description at the first interview and was sent away to collect my memories ( as they were and still are very scattered) and was asked to attend a formal interview at a place where I would be comfortable and video interviewed. In between this time is was so hard to remember dates and years exactly and even some of what had happened to me was so hidden away that I didn’t remember it until I started talking at the interview. Floods of memories came back to me, i had hidden them deep but not deep enough thankfully. After my first interview the police officers there reassured me and made me fully aware of the extent of abuse that I had suffered and I knew then that now it was time to let the authority’s deal with the information I had gave them.
It took a while but eventually he was charged and bailed for my allegations and those of another who had also reported him for her own childhood demons. As soon as he was charged his counter action was to make out I was a liar and only looking to gain cash from all of this. Random people received anonymous letters apparently from me, threatening them. He tried to make out I was harassing him. I won’t lie I was petrified every time I left my house and every time I went to bed, “what if he got me ” went over and over in my head every minute of everyday as where we live is very small. I started to have other allegations thrown back at me and was taken into the police station many times for questioning. I was accused of calling Davey on the phone and trying to blackmail him for twenty five thousand pounds which of course I did not do. Also allegations of me sending threatening letters to him and slandering his name, it was a long period but finally he was charged and a court date was set. I would have to face him!

3. On a personal level my life started to suffer slightly as I was scared and immature, I wanted to get drunk when my children were with their dad as I hated being alone, I started to be too scared to sleep. You fall into a hole and start to sink, and I sunk and made many mistakes, always justifying them with the fact my head was a mess. At this time my thoughts were so contrasted to how they are now, I chased the party, I dabbled in drugs, I did so many things just to take my mind away from what was really happening to me, none of which I can change but only make better by learning from them. Which has definitely occurred, I have learned so much from my actions and their consequences and finally at thirty three feel content, and free from the albatross that was around my neck.
The first court case at Worcester crown court was in January 2010 and The thought of being face to face with him was petrifying and the reality of seeing my mother and siblings at the courts was the most horrible experience of all. They all stood with him looking down on me with pure hatred and anger, calling me a liar, which I understood from his children as they were to young to remember but one sibling and my mother knew it was happening at the time yet they still stood at his side. I justified this by telling myself that they were still under his control and they would have to tell the truth in the courtroom
This was not the way at all even when certain people swore on the bible they still lied through their teeth but that is their burden to carry now! On the day I had to give me evidence I was advised to do a video link but I refused thinking that I needed to do it to his face to feel better, how wrong I was. It was the most tense, vulgar feeling that it’s quite hard to explain. Surreal! I stood in the stand while my barrister asked me questions and then it was the turn of the defendant s barrister to cross examine me. For the whole time I stood on the stand I was accused of blackmail and hardly questened about abuse just the reason s as to why I was trying to ruin an innocent man. One reply that sticks in my mind was

“I don’t want to destroy him, I just want to stand here today and tell my story, I don’t care if you believe me I just care that I get to stand here today and look him in the face and tell him he was wrong and I am not scared anymore”

While making this statement I maintained eye contact with him until I finished my sentence, oh gosh the rush, no longer was I a little child, I had know grown stronger and become a survivor. He looked straight down at his feet when I finished. Then through the rest of my time being cross examined he was just stood in the dock shaking his head pretending to look like the victim. He brought a massive support network to court with him, friends and family of his who constantly threw looks and comments my way it was horrendous I just wanted to run away but my support network kept me going.
After my evidence was given and my witnesses had given theirs it was time for him to bring his witnesses in. So many lies were told it was unreal he even came to court and claimed long and short term memory loss. He claimed he had suffered a head injury that had caused him to forget the last twenty years or something similar to that, so he did not remember who I was and answered every question he was asked with “I can’t remember”. I sat in the public gallery thinking well I do,I remember everything!

It was the longest two weeks of my life at that time. The jury went out and took four days to come up with a verdict which was nine votes of guilty and three vote of not guilty. This caused the judge to insist upon a re trial as with this sort of case the jury must reach a majority vote which was ten votes of guilty or over. The judge also ordered Davey to be assessed by court doctors for this apparent memory loss. It was an overwhelming feeling as I had to do it again but nine strangers had believed in my truth and that gave me hope, but the thought of waiting in the world that he was free to roam in was terrifying as already I had been falsely accused of so many things. I walked away from the courts in pieces as the journey I thought was about to end was just beginning. I wish I had never gone forward at first but this emotion passed quickly, nine jurors believed me out of twelve, I could do this I had to be strong.

My head fell apart over the next couple of weeks, replaying over in my mind the ordeal I would have to go through again by repeating what I had already said, and suffering the pain of the people I loved hating on me and thinking I was a liar when all I was doing was telling of my childhood memories. That is the thing though, when you are telling the truth you never ever forget so every time you talk about it, the same words come out, repetitive as they are they never change but when you have lied you forget it or a detail about it and therefore it is proven and that is a brilliant reason to always tell the truth. The next date was set and it was several months later, I just went wild and didn’t know if I was coming or going. I between this time again I had been taken into the police station for ridiculous accusations such as vandalising vehicles, threatening letters, physically assaulting Davey and many other things. I never once got charged for any of this as I had never done any of it. My belief was that telling the truth was enough if people didn’t believe me there was no more I could do. Every time I was accused of something I got that little bit weaker and then when the court date finally came around there was a death within my close network of witnesses and two days before it was due in court it was cancelled until another date could be made. That was it for me I fell to the floor I had nothing left inside me, life had become so hard living amongst the many people he had made believe that I was victimising him. How could I last any longer. I had put myself into college to study a degree for the September of 2010 and really wanted this behind me before it started, but now I would have to take this with me, dazed by all this I nearly gave up but thankfully a great person picked me up as well as the most amazing police officer I’m privileged to know. With out them and the others that stood strong with me I started college, maintained my motherly roles and still took all the harassment of his supporters during this. I even got told I had to stay away from my local shopping centre due to falsely being accused by one of his friends of threatening behaviour. It was a complete joke but I had to tip toe around for so long.

College started to become my get out, I threw myself into my studies especially through my second year. More and more people started to believe his lies as he was showing text messages with threats that were apparently from me, and strength was hard to keep. Then finally a new court date was set for May 2011.

This time I had to do it different, I didn’t need to go to court every day I had heard it all before. I only went to give my evidence which I did by video link this time round. The night before I was due to give my evidence my kitchen windows were smashed and even though I know it was to scare me off it made me more determined to go to give my evidence. It was so much easier to be natural via video interrogation. This time no mention of memory loss came about I got asked questions about abuse that I could respond to naturally by just telling the truth. I held my head high and I told everything even how he had got me pregnant, which he never knew until court. After this I walked away and waited for the verdict. It was again the longest two weeks of my life, but the wait was worth it. The fact he came back to court with no mention of the memory loss or the money I was blackmailing him for must have made the judge see how manipulating he was. He didn’t even attend the assessment they ordered. The day the jury went out I sat with my sister all morning anticipating what could have happened then I got the call.
Guilty. All twelve jurors found him guilty, when I got the call I was mesmerised by pure happiness. Karma really does exist, all the people that disbelieved when I said I just want to tell the truth. The justice system to me is excellent. The help they have given me is wholly justified and they prove to me why the system is in place.

I went to court on verdict day, but when we got there we were told that he had gone in an ambulance to hospital with chest pains. So we were sent away it was a Friday and I remember thinking were gonna have to wait ages. Within an hour of getting home I got a phone call telling me it was Monday. Happy doesn’t come close. On the Monday at the court his network was massive so I was sat in the court next to him. He looked like I used to look waiting for him to punish me. Karma! When the judge spoke every word was so powerful. He summed up the whole three years of my life in a three minute speech. He was excellent every word was so impactive.

Eighteen years! I never expected that, but now it look back I think this,
He lied so much that he sent himself to where he is. People out there helped him with his lies and abuse by backing him up , especially those who lied for him because if we look at it realistically it’s like this, a man on chargers of child abuse asks you to lie for him! Is that in itself not admission of there crime, I will never understand how or why they did. But again those are others wrongs to deal with. Still today as I write this those people still portray this as a miss justice and claim his innocence. If only there was a machine that could show your memories then everyone would be able to see. I thought at this time that it was the end but it wasn’t as he was not the only demon I had to overcome.

In my head I truly believed that when he went to Prison Diane would be free so she could be honest. She was not and still is not, and this troubled me so very much. Too much time did this consume that it has got to the stage that I realise it will always hurt but I can never answer why. Why she allowed it, or why she hates me so much, I cannot change this so I live with it. I only make it better by making sure it does not happen with my children. The way I changed the day he got found guilty is unexplainable and amazing. All of a sudden I started to like myself and as time goes by I grow and what I have learnt inspires me. I’m so happy at this precise time that everything seems so worthwhile. I believe in destiny and you keep on searching for what you believe is your happy place until you find it. If you don’t life is fake and you are never truly happy. The saying that the truth can set you free is so correct. I know that sometimes this is not the way for others and cannot begin to say I know how they feel as if I would have lost I think I would have been destroyed.
When I speak about abuse quiet normally but yet I know there are different levels it can reach. Mine were to me, extreme but I give room for argument. All I know is that what was, no longer exists. When I was getting accused of all these false allegations it used to tear me apart it now it holds me together it’s so crazy. Everything conflicts ands contrasts with how life used to be its mad!

You could snot speak without getting a beating so it would be best to be quiet, oh how quiet I was. Everything was fake, no friends no close circle, it was easier that way. No one could understand me, well no one could get close enough to. But that is the problem, as you just go wild. Crazy in fact as I just went mad. I can actually say i have only just found myself.

To do this I have had to give up hope of one day having a loving mother, it’s never going to happen. I would even settle for just a mother that could tell the truth but that is not going to happen either. So instead I tell myself that some questions will never get the answers I seek and I just have to get over that.

I make life better now by never allowing anyone to disrespect me and most of all by not disrespecting myself, I try to make sure I’m open, honest and most of all happy.
Sometimes I feel sad about the family I have lost but then I look at the family I have created and a warm glow fills my body.

After the court case I automatically assumed life would be good straight away but it still took a while to adjust. College was going really well and I had made some really good friends a couple will be lifelong friends. Even my tutors were so very supportive. My grades improved dramatically and I ended up applying to four universities. I took a place at Newman s university and have been there since.

It has been nearly three years now and life just gets better by the day. Obviously there are factors out there still that try to bring me down like the women who gave birth to me still carries on her married life to Davey while he is in prison, and she still continues to tell others it’s all a lie but she says that it is to protect her other children. We live in a small town and when our paths cross I’m none existent to her but in reality I bet she is shaking inside when she sees me as her conscience must tell her how disgusting she has been, or am I looking at it wrong? As she was and is also a victim so perhaps she has a story of her own.

I know that although I have many unanswered questions, the answers I seek may never be found and although this hurts if I was to continue to seek these answers my life will remain on hold, to move on I have had to drop this quest and tell my self even if I had the answers they probably would not help.

Instead I have filled myself with knowledge, gained a diploma and wrote down my feelings in poetry. Slowly but surely the badness has been removed from my life and I sit here writing this feeling very proud of myself, something I never thought I would feel.
I have mentioned that I have made mistakes because of what was happening to me I never want it to be misunderstood as an excuse. When you become a mother you should not do drugs or have people around your house drinking and I will always feel shame for that but now I’m not carrying the demons as I was back then, now there is no excuse, now is time to shine and help my children shine. I feel like I never had a childhood and I became free at the age of twenty six so I tried to live out a life that was not suitable but now I am strong all I want is to create memory’s that my children will always treasure. I have found the man I have always been searching for, the love I always knew was out there for me. I kissed many frogs to find my prince and now I have I feel like I can conquer anything, I can be who I really am and he loves me for everything I am. He helps me shine and for the first time I feel that someone loves me unconditionally, at last. I’m not being a loved up women when I’m saying this I’m saying it as it is the greatest lesson I’ve learned. I always believed I was worth more, that’s what has always kept me going, when I have fell down I have got back up because I knew one day I would find what i pictured as true perfection. Every relation ship has always had something missing, I have always had love for people but only for one thing or another, not enough to carry an eternal bond ( except for my children of course) not until now. So now is my time to put my past to bed and that is why I’m writing this to share with others and finally get it out of my head once and for all. I don’t want to talk about it, and I don’t want it to hold me back anymore.

On my journeys I have met many different people and had many different friends, all were there for a reason and all taught me many lessons good and bad. Now I have only the people around me that I love and love me back. I have a loving, happy home with no negative vibes and the greatest friends a girl can ask for. This privilege I have earned through living bad learning from all that has happened. I still have a great journey ahead of me but now it’s exciting and everyday I wake with a smile. Opportunities are all around if you are willing to work to get them.

I have got lost throughout my life so far and times when I self medicated with drugs and alcohol and during this time I thought I was helping myself but really I was delaying the break down. I suppressed all my real thoughts and anxieties and delayed the getting over it period. Now I have grown up somewhat, I have managed to deal with my demons by getting over them. For this I thank my children, my partner and my family. All of who have witnessed me change and grow.

Now I educate myself by having an eclectic range of individuals in my life, all of whom teach me different things. I never knew I could feel this strong, this happy, but I do. Best of all I am no longer scared, I do not fear what others think or let it dictate my life, I move forward proud and strong and am so excited at what my future holds. The truth has set me free now it is the traits I picked up I concentrate on losing. For example being so jumpy and scared, thinking everyone is talking about me and hoping everybody likes me. I am what I am if I’m unlinked so be it I am also loved. Thirty three years young and the future is so bright.

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Jenny Brannan

I’m a survivor and I live to make everyone happy I’ve turned my life around and want to help people find hope