Sarah, 40, was just five when her mum’s boyfriend raped her. Even then, the little girl knew that one day, she’d get justice…
By Helen O’Brien Google
Being raped when I was a child is the most terrifying and distressing thing that has ever happened to me. I wasn’t viciously attacked at the hands of some stranger, an evil faceless man.
I was sexually abused and raped by a man my mother once loved. A man she invited into our home – Thomas Parker.
I was just five when Mum introduced me to her new boyfriend. Thomas was sitting on his own in our local working men’s club, nursing a pint, when I was taken to meet him.
I smiled at the stranger with dark eyes and close-cropped hair, but he just stared back at me. His eyes bore through me and I decided instantly that I didn’t like him one bit.
That night Thomas came home with us and soon he was staying at our house more and more. He abused me for the first time almost immediately.
When he laid me down on the floor one day when Mum was at work, I assumed it must be some sort of game.
But then he undid his trousers and climbed on top of me. The pain was unbearable. Afterwards, he got off and said: “I’ll kill you and your mum if you tell anyone.”
He drew a finger slowly across his throat and when I found a huge knife peeping out of Thomas’s tool bag soon afterwards, I knew he meant it.
The fear of it was enough to stop me from telling Mum about what Thomas had done – which I only understood later was rape.
Thomas’s sick abuse continued after that. I tried to stay out of his way but he’d pounce when Mum was out of the house.
He even forced me to crawl under the dinner table and perform a sex act on him when Mum was in the garden. I’ll never forget the stench of diesel on his trousers as he warned me not to breathe a word.
I was lying on my bed a few days later when Thomas barged in and violently raped me a second time. I felt utterly powerless as I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed on the floor afterwards.
I was just a child but even then, a steely determination was born in me. I felt sure that one day, I would get my revenge on Thomas Parker.
In time, Mum broke up with Thomas and slowly, I tried to put everything that had happened behind me. But I couldn’t just forget. Thomas had terrorised me, robbed me of my childhood – I couldn’t simply forget what he’d done to me.
I was 21 when I saw him in the pub with his twin brother, Kenneth. He was sipping on a pint, like he didn’t have a care in the world.
All the hurt and rage I’d kept inside for so long came bubbling to the surface and in that moment I realised I wasn’t that frightened little girl any more, cowering on the bathroom floor.
Thomas Parker didn’t scare me.
So I marched up to him and said: “You know who I am and I know who you are. I’m Sarah Brown, remember my name because you’re going to hear it again one day. I’m coming for you.”
As he stared back at me, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I knew then he remembered me – and what he’d done.
The creepy pair left after that but for the next 20 years I couldn’t find the words to go to the police. I just didn’t think anyone would believe me.
It wasn’t until March 2011, when I was on holiday in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, celebrating my son’s first birthday when I got the jolt I needed.
My partner, Bud, flicked on the TV and suddenly Thomas’s face flashed up on the screen. I stood frozen to the spot as I listened to the breaking news report.
Thomas Parker and his brother Kenneth were the first set of twins to be on the UK’s most wanted list. Both were convicted paedophiles who had gone on the run after breaching reporting conditions of the sex offenders register.
A manhunt had begun – and that’s when I knew I had to act. I had to get justice for what he’d done.
So when we got home to Nuneaton, Warwickshire, I went to the police station. It was hard to explain the true horror of what Thomas Parker had done to me, but with Bud’s support I relived my ordeal and told the officers everything.
Meanwhile, the twins were eventually tracked down to France, arrested and sent to prison. In November last year, Thomas Parker, 59, appeared at Warwick Crown Court where I gave evidence from behind a screen, just a few feet from where he stood.
On the final day of the trial, the jury found him guilty of two counts of rape and one of indecent assault. I wept with relief as the monster was sentenced to 28 years in jail.
I always vowed I’d get justice one day and now, 34 years on, that day had finally come.
Now, I’m supporting C.A.S.S.A, (Child Abuse Survivors Support and Awareness) a Facebook support group for fellow survivors of child abuse. I want to tell victims that they’re not alone and it’s never too late to speak out.
It took me over three decades to get the justice I deserved – but I won’t let that man take one more moment of my life.
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