A woman in her 50s has bravely told how she was sexually abused by her father and his friends from when she was a toddler until she left home at 16.
She was speaking at the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASASC) for North Wales which has helped her deal with the devastating trauma that’s affected her whole life.
According to the woman, now 52, her mother was present and aided and abetted the abusers.
She was among the guests at new offices of the organisation at Parc Menai in Bangor which were officially opened by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
The centre provides a service across all of the six counties of North Wales and last year 600 people were referred to them for support.
The woman, whose identity we are protecting, revealed that before receiving counselling she was so depressed she used to sit in a cupboard because it was the only place she felt safe.
Tackling sexual abuse is one of the five key priorities in the commissioner’s North Wales Police and Crime Plan.
Mr Jones hit out at the UK Government for failing to provide centres like RASASC North Wales.
He said: “Whilst I very much welcome the fact that there is an ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I feel that the Westminster Government was incredibly short-sighted in refusing to fund support centres such as this one in order to support the brave people who gave evidence to the inquiry. The need for such support is greater than ever.”
Demand for the centre’s services have rocketed in recent years, particularly after the revelations about Jimmy Savile and, more recently the ones from football academies, which helped encourage more and more survivors to come forward to seek help.
Statistics show North Wales has one of the UK’s highest number of recorded rapes over the past two years – with a major increase in historic allegations and a 38 per cent overall rise.
Among the people helped by RASASC North Wales is the woman who revealed the shocking abuse she suffered until she left home at the age of 16.
Until then she was subjected to a horrific abuse by the very people who should have been protecting her.
She recalled: “My father was abusing me and my mother was part of what was happening. I can’t remember a time that it wasn’t happening.
“There were other people involved. It was absolutely terrifying and painful for a child, but I think the emotional hurt and betrayal of trust is what does more damage.
“I needed professional help, and I came to the wonderful Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre in North Wales.
“I had counselling that meant for the first time I was able to tell someone exactly what had happened. It was like this big secret that was on my shoulders the whole time.
“It meant so much to actually have someone say to me that they believed me and that it wasn’t my fault. It had a big emotional impact on me, I cried a lot at that time.
It took a lot of hard work and commitment, but I started to rebuild my life.
“I’ve gone from someone who was on benefits and so depressed I wasn’t really doing anything to someone who is working.
“I’ve got a really good wide circle of friends. I’ve got a lovely life. I go on holiday. All of the things that I felt had been written off for me because of what other people had done to me.
“There are long term effects from what I experienced, I don’t have any children of my own. I never got married, but I try to focus on what I have got rather than what I’ve lost.”
“It’s a consequence of what has happened to me but compared to sitting in a cupboard feeling miserable about it, I do have a life and I didn’t before I came to RASASC North Wales.”
According to director Jane Ruthe, it is never too late to come forward to seek help.
She said: “The numbers of people coming forward have increased and the very fact that we have a waiting list of people waiting for counselling shows that there is a need for even more of this service.
“We help men, women, anyone of any gender. We work with people who have experienced recent rape. We work with people who have experienced childhood abuse, and perhaps not told anyone for many years.
“We work with people whenever they experienced sexual violence, whether it happened recently or a long time ago, whether they have ever told anyone before , whether they are going through a court case. We do also have a children’s service.
“I remember speaking to a lady in her 80s who said that she’d actually been raped when she was in her late teens.
“She had never told anyone, not even her husband. She’d gone on to get married and had a family and she said that it had affected her whole life and she’d never been able to tell anyone why.
“She’d never been able to hug her children. She never phoned again and she never came in. but she said she didn’t want to die without having told anyone.”
During his speech, Mr Jones thanked RASASC North Wales for all their hard work.
He said: “The priorities in my Police and Crime Plant have been developed in response to the areas of greatest threat, risk and harm facing the communities of North Wales.
“The number of rapes and other serious sexual assaults , often committed by partners or people known to their victims, reported to the police are high.
“However, they remain under-reported and more needs to be done to encourage victims to come forward, regardless of when the crime was committed.”