My very first memory is my dad strangling my mother; I stood there watching the color drain from her face. At only maybe 4 or 5 years old, I was helpless. The abuse progressed the older I grew. The words I love you were accompanied with a punch to the face and tearful apologies. My mother plucked up the courage to leave him when I was 7 years old. Her best friend helped her change the locks, and I remember him screaming down the phone to her with threats of violence. We lost the house, not much after they divorced, as he had never allowed my mother to work. We ended up living in a homeless hostel for months, before relocating to my Nans; there were 7 of us living in a 2 bedroom bungalow, until I was 10. He was a serial cheater and a manipulative liar. Each time he was found out as a cheat, he would get himself some illegal drugs and overdose. He craved the attention from as many people as possible. I carried on seeing my father for years. I was a Daddy’s girls, and in my twisted eyes I believed he could do no wrong. Every punch, slap and kick he apologized for, empty promises of it never happening again soothed my broken heart, but it was inevitable it would. At 13 years of age, after watching him beat multiple partners, my brother and myself, I finally stopped contact with the man that is my sperm donor. Not long after, my mum received a phone call from the police. He had been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a minor under 12 years of age. The investigations and trial took place over 3 years. On the 23rd December 2015, I sat in the court room and looked into the vile eyes of a monster as every member of the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced in February 2016. He was found guilty of two charges of indecent assault on a child, two charges of assaulting a child by touching, one charge of rape on a woman in her 20s, three charges of sexual assault on a woman in her 20s and one on a woman in her 50s. The sexual abuse of the women, 2 of which I was extremely close with, spanned years. One was when I was born and I’m now 18 years old. The monster received 13.5 years, which is nothing compared to how many lives he has ruined. His parents, and his girlfriend are still declaring his innocence which is laughable really, as the police had DNA evidence; I’m his daughter and when I first found out about the allegations, I knew it was true. I had to deal with everyone in my school knowing and asking me questions about my pedophile dad, as it was front page news across all of the local papers. Forward fast a few years and I’m now 18 years old. Having been on anti-depressants, and struggled with it quite severely, I am proud to say I no longer take them. I am by no means “cured”, but I am no longer dependent on tablets to make me feel numb from the pain. I was lucky my way of coping with it all was by throwing myself into my school work and books, although unfortunately alcohol was another method I used to cope. I no longer rely on alcohol to make me forget and I have turned all of my energy into my passion for cars. At 18 years old, I have a successful job with an impressive title for my age, 2 cars, and food in my mouth and a roof over my head. I am a survivor. I am doing better than I ever dreamed I could. I am lucky I have such an amazing woman that is my mother to look up to in my life. From being homeless and jobless with 2 young children, she worked her socks off, and now she is a registered manager of her own children’s home, is engaged to a wonderful man who is more of a father than my birth one could ever be, and we live in a gorgeous house. She completely turned her life around, and used the hatred and weakness he gave her and turned it into strength. We are not just victims of abuse. We are survivors of abuse. We are strong. We are powerful. We have voices that deserve to be heard. We have stories that need telling. We need the justice system to stop failing us. Most of all, we are people. Our abuse does not define us as individuals, we are human beings. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, teachers, police officers, ambulance drivers, Doctors, taxi drivers, decorators, mechanics, the list is endless. We have ambitions, aspirations and dreams. In 2018, we need to stop letting our abuse be used to define us as a person. We are more than just another statistic, and we’ll prove it to anyone that disagrees.

D. Carver