She was supposed to love and protect me, above all others. So why was Mum putting me through this?
By Allyse Heath, 36.
I squinted as I looked out into the audience, scanning the rows of parents lined up in the school hall, and smiled when I spotted Dad.
He’d come to watch me in my school play and I wanted to make him proud. Afterwards, we walked home together.
He rested his hand on my shoulder and said: ‘Well done, love. You were really good.’
When he let me have a cigarette as a treat, I thought he was being really cool. ‘Thanks Dad,’ I grinned as he lit it for me.
But then he plied me with alcohol until I was drunk. So drunk, I could barely stand. Then he raped me for the first time on the living room floor. I was just 13 years old.
From the outside looking in, ours was a happy home. Mum and Dad appeared to be doting parents and Dad always turned up for school sports days, nativity plays and parents’ evenings.
But behind closed doors it was a different story. I was barely out of nappies when Dad started touching me and my first memory is not of playing with dollies or a happy family holiday - it’s of their abuse.
I was just three or four years old and I was in my parents’ bed when Dad told Mum to kiss me, down there.
My Mum then performed oral sex on me. Of course, I didn’t know what was happening then because I was just a toddler… her toddler.
After that, their abuse became a way of life.
‘Wakey, wakey,’ I heard my dad’s voice in the darkness as he pushed open my bedroom door in the middle of the night.
I froze as I felt him climb into the bed beside me, flinching as his rough hands snaked all over my body, pushing and probing beneath my pyjama bottoms.
I peered out from under the covers and in the chink of light by my open bedroom door I saw a silhouette. It was Mum, and she was watching, silently.
The abuse made me so tired but I assumed that it was what all little girls did with their parents. But when Dad raped me for the first time that night after the school play, I was old enough to know it was wrong.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t turn to Mum - because she was in on it too.
I grew scared of sleep, living in constant terror of my bedroom door creaking open and Dad coming in.
But one night, my blood ran cold. I was in bed when I heard Mum and Dad arguing.
‘No,’ she shouted at him. ‘I’m not interested, not tonight. Go and have sex with Allyse instead.’
I heard their door shut loudly and Dad’s footsteps pad across the landing, before he came into my bedroom.
That night, as Dad got into my bed and raped me, I’d never felt more terrified or more alone. Mum had sent Dad to have sex with me.
They were supposed to love and protect me, above all others. Instead, the perverted pair were abusing me in the worst way imaginable.
As I got older and Dad’s abuse continued, I tried to fight back. ‘Just relax,’ he said, as he forced himself on me.
‘No Dad, please.’ I pleaded. ‘I don’t want to do this. Please stop.’
He replied: ‘I tell you what, we’ll make a pact. When you turn 16, then I’ll stop,’
After that, I lived for my 16th birthday. I couldn’t wait for the day that I would finally be free. My birthday came and went and I put a lock on my bedroom door.
But it didn’t stop Dad. ‘Allyse, let me in!’ he yelled, banging on the door in the night. I pretended to be asleep but the next day, Dad made me pay.
He belted me and demanded: ‘Take that lock off - now!’ He could have done it himself but it was more humiliating watching me remove the lock I’d put on to protect myself from him.
When his abuse continued, I knew I needed a way out. So, I stashed a knife under my bed and promised myself that I’d either kill myself, or my dad.
Luckily, before I could do anything stupid, something incredible happened - Dad had to go away for a while.
Mum was cold and heartless and as soon as I turned 18 I moved into my own place.
I forced myself to move on with my life and two years later I even went to visit Dad.
I’d just gone through a bad break-up and I needed to get away.
Dad said: ‘You can stay here if you want a change of scene.’
I was with Dad for four or five days as we tentatively tried to rebuild our relationship.
‘I’m sorry Allyse,’ he told me. ‘I went through counselling, and it changed me.’
But when I found indecent photos of children in his bedside table I knew he hadn’t changed.
‘Dad, how could you?’ I stormed.
He insisted that looking at the pictures meant he would never actually harm another child again. But I couldn’t go back and after that, I cut both him and Mum out my life.
I tried to put the past behind me and in 1998 I got together with a lovely man, Simon*. He’d lived round our way when we were kids and the following year, in 1999, we got married.
We went on to have three sons together and in 2004, we had a little girl, Emily*.
Simon cooed: ‘Isn’t she gorgeous?’ as the midwife placed her on my chest. I examined her perfect little features, her tiny button nose, her little fingers and toes.
She was beautiful. So delicate, so vulnerable. And that’s when it hit me. I thought I’d put my horrific childhood behind me but as I cradled my baby daughter in my arms, all those sick memories came flooding back.
I had been an innocent child once too - their child. How could they?
It was only when I became a mother to a daughter myself, that I could truly comprehend the depraved reality of what they’d done - especially Mum.
I could never imagine allowing my little girl to endure the horror she put me through.
‘Simon, I’ve got something to tell you,’ I whispered. ‘It’s Mum, she… she hurt me too,’
Simon already knew what Dad had done to me but I’ll never forget the look on his face when I told him Mum had abused me too.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ he asked, rocking me in his arms.
We talked and talked and I tried to explain how Mum and Dad’s abuse became a way of my life for me.
But I didn’t truly open up - not until, when Emily was around seven months old, I went to police.
Simon put his arm around me as we made our way into the station. He said: ‘You’re doing the right thing, love. I’m right here for you.’
That day, I told the CID officer everything and when police arrested Dad, he admitted it all. I breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t have to attend one session of court and Dad was jailed for eight years.
‘I’m afraid your mother is denying all the charges though,’ an officer explained. I felt sick. I’d have to go to court and face the woman who had tormented me all my life.
She was denying abusing me or even knowing about Dad’s abuse.
I said: ‘I can’t look at her, I don’t want to see her face.’ I had no idea how I’d react in court. I might freeze and become that frightened little girl all over again - or I might fling myself at her and batter her.
‘It’s ok,’ the officer reassured. ‘We can put a curtain up. You’ll only see the judge, jury and lawyers. You don’t have to see her again.’
Somehow I managed to keep it together as I relived my nightmare in court. I thought my heart would break as Mum’s barrister branded me a liar but thankfully, the jury saw through her cruel lies.
In 2007 she was found guilty of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault and jailed for eight years.
‘It’s over,’ I whispered into Simon’s shoulder as he wrapped me up in a huge hug. ‘It’s finally over.’
I didn’t feel a shred of guilt about putting both my parents behind bars.
They’re dead to me, especially Mum. As a mummy to a little girl myself, I can’t even begin to understand what she did. That woman’s no mother, she’s a monster.
*Simon and Emily’s names have been changed to protect their identities
As told to Helen O'Brien Google