Northern Ireland

A survivor's story: sexual abuse

offenders series

A woman who was sexually abused from the age of five has described how it affected her life.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said the abuse only came to light several years later.

"I was sexually abused from the age of five but at the time I didn't understand what was happening."

"When I was nine years old one of my cousins told me how you make babies and that is when the penny dropped and I realised what he was doing," she said.

Her experience is one of a series compiled by BBC NI Home Affairs Correspondent Vincent Kearney in his investigation into how the controversial issue of sex offenders and how they are managed.

The woman said it was only when she was nine and understood what was being done to her that her abuser stopped.

"The next time he was abusing me I said to him 'I know this is how you make babies' and that is the only reason he stopped.

Impact

"Apparently I had also said to him I might tell my father and then he just began to avoid me.

"Even as a nine-year-old child I weighed the decision (of whether to tell my parents) in my mind.

"I tried to analyse the impact telling them would have on my wider family and in the end decided not to.

"It then affected me as I grew up, I remember as a teenager not wanting to develop or become feminine," she continued.

"Then when I went to university I was very closeted and I'm sad I didn't feel like I was able to enjoy going out and meeting people and being carefree, everything about me was about being in control.

"This will be with me for the rest of my life but it doesn't control me anymore, I don't fear it," she added.

"I'm happy to continue with my life but one of the biggest things is how I analyse things.

"I'm very controlled and processed and that how I have to be. I weigh up the outcomes.

"Sometimes I have to check myself as I don't want it to impact on my children too much."

BBC NI Home Affairs Correspondent Vincent Kearney is examining the controversial issue of sex offenders and how they are managed. The week-long series will be running from Monday June 13 on BBC Newsline and BBC Radio Ulster.