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A Violent Upbringing

 

This is my statement on the sexual abuse I experienced within my family of origin.

In 2005 I began a year-long process of making police statements to the PSNI about the sexual abuse and torture I experienced within my family during the 1980s and 90s. The investigation went on for four years and did not lead to a conviction. I gave over 8 hours of video testimony.

I have made my peace with justice not being served and have a very beautiful, full life now, but it has been a long, long struggle to stay alive. Only one member of my family, which included a vast extended family on both sides, has been helpful in this struggle. Initially an aunt and uncle on my mothers side were supportive, but they soon suggested I forget about it all and 'get on with my life', i.e. shut up and stop making a fuss.

The first rape by my father was in my first year of primary school, and the last on my final year at secondary school. I had a further 8 years of threats and goading from him during my 20s.

The first 6 years the rapes and torture were the worst and most frequent, and then in my early teens, for a period of months, he sold me to other men to be raped; what some people refer to as 'child prostitution'. For much of this time I was in regular contact with social workers and a ward of court, i.e. the state of Northern Ireland was my official guardian.

In 2008 I was told that a conviction was unlikely, so eventually moved to the UK to start a new life. Three months in to my stay I was told that the DPP wanted to meet me. Back in NI he reiterated that a conviction was unlikely because of missing medical records and other vicitms refusing to come forward, but he asked would a trial be helpful to me.

I had to be honest and say that I was divided: one part of me wanted to protect other children from him; the other part wanted nothing more to do with his insanity. Ultimately I knew that I did not have the emotional resources to proceed because the support was just not present.

The DPP did not go ahead with a trial and it has taken me years to digest this reality, all with zero support from a family that presents itself as upstanding. In all this time I have not received one card, one email, or one call to see how I am doing. I know that most of them wish I had committed suicide a long time ago rather than expose the depths of the family sickness of which they are a part; a harsh truth only people who have been part of such a family dynamic will know.

The reality is that child sexual abuse can only go on within an incredibly unhealthy system. It took the psychosis of my father, the neglect of my mother, the disregard of their brothers and sisters and the lack of awareness of social services for an innocent child to be raped and tortured for such a long, long time.

And, when there was a chance to stand up and be counted, to break that cycle of abuse and begin healing, not one person stepped forward, so I stood alone.

I practice loving-kindness for these people every day. I do not blame them for the actions of the past and I wish all of them well - especially my father and mother. At the same time I do not want to have anything to do with them because they continue to uphold that sick system and live far from the humility that truth-telling and apology would necessitate.

I have a family now, and more love around me than I could ever imagine. I feel very blessed to have lived such contrast in this lifetime and be out the other end - to have healed such deep, deep wounds and found my post-traumatic wisdom. Every day this healing process enriches my life and informs my work in making the world a safer place for humans and the wider ecosystem.

Aoife Valley, June 2019

 

 

All content © Aoife Valley 2010 - 2019
aoife@aoifevalley.com
Co. Donegal, Ireland
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