My mother and father came to England from the Caribbean during the
late 1950s. Following a turbulent relationship they separated and
my father returned to the Caribbean where he remained until his
My mother became a single parent of three children. Within a couple
of years she began a relationship with a white English man. As
their relationship developed, he frequently visited our home. Soon
afterwards, when I was about five years old, he began to sexually
abuse me. I also developed epilepsy in the same year.
The memory of the initial incident still evokes my deepest feelings
of helplessness. When I think about the incidents that followed,
each was as manipulative as the last.
My stepfather asked me if I’d told my mum about “our meetings” and
assured me I need not because he had already told her. He said she
said it was OK. At 11 I started my periods. I became aware the
abuse was wrong. I told my stepfather I didn’t want the sex to
continue and if he made any more attempts I would tell my mum. Not
only did he continue but he told my mother I was challenging his
While at secondary school we moved house from a friendly city
housing estate to a remote village where I became withdrawn and
depressed. When I was 13 I had a miscarriage, which was induced
following a suicide attempt because I couldn’t stand the person I
had become. My stepfather flushed the foetus away and I was
forbidden to tell my mother about my “illness.” When I was 15 I
gave birth to another child by my stepfather and I terminated a
third pregnancy by him when I was 16 years old.
In 1980, when I was 17, I managed to tell my mum about the abuse
but she rebuffed me. One evening I went out with friends and when I
came home a suitcase greeted me at the door and my key wouldn’t
turn in the lock. I’d had enough of the controlling ways of my
parents and disclosed the whole episode of events to a local
From then on my life changed dramatically. The doctor called social
services and I was taken into foster care but my daughter remained
with my parents. I felt as though I was being punished all over
again so I returned home until I was 18.
At 18 I was allocated a council house and moved in with no
experience of budgeting. Social services intervention continued
with the focus of child protection for my daughter. She was placed
on the child protection register and made a ward of court. During a
meeting with my social worker I voiced my opinions regarding the
safety of my daughter. I said I was more than capable of
maintaining my daughter’s well-being. Shortly afterwards my
daughter was deregistered and the supervision order revoked.
My daughter and I finally began to function as a normal family
unit. I began volunteering for local agencies and worked in a
factory. When the factory went into liquidation I decided to embark
on a Diploma in Social Work at university. When I qualify I hope to
work in mental health. CC
Trinity St Clements (not her real name) is a part-time
Diploma in Social Work student.