Finally, I can remove my ‘mask’

As a child, Lorraine Mulvey was raped repeatedly by her father.

After he was jailed yesterday for six years, she outlines in her victim impact statement her attempts to rebuild her life after years of abuse, guilt and self-loathing:

My name is Lorraine Mulvey. I am 41 years old.

I’ve tried to break it down as briefly as I could, into how the effects of the abuse have destroyed me and my life, emotionally and physically, in my relationships with my mother and siblings; sociably, with friends and boyfriends; how it destroyed my future prospects, my education, my self-esteem, and self-worth.

I hope, having heard it, you may get a glimpse of what my childhood was like, and what my life has been like.

For years I have worn a mask to escape from the reality of my life. I’ll never wear that mask again after today.

I lived in the Curragh Camp, Kildare, with my parents and my brother, who is only one year younger than me.

We had the “life of Reilly”, my brother and I — a wonderful, carefree life.

With such a small age gap between the two of us, we had a close babyhood, built many a camp, and had many an adventure together.

The sexual abuse began when I was six, around the time my sister was born. My father took me away in the car, where he made me touch him. I’ll always remember that first time.

My memories are as vivid as yesterday. Shortly after the touching stopped, my father began having full sexual intercourse with me. He continued raping me until I was 17.

I’ve been asked if I feared my father, but I didn’t. He was my Dad, and when the abuse first began I thought it was normal.

However, from the earliest beginning of the abuse I had it in my head that there was a black hole filled with fire, and I was afraid I would fall into it.

I do not know if my father said it, or if had just such a fear. As that small child, my grandmother would take me to Mass and I remember feeling that I shouldn’t be there, that I was not worthy of being there.

I began to realise I was carrying a secret. I told nobody but I knew there was something wrong.

The special relationship that began between my father and me, took an immediate negative effect, driving a wedge between me and my mother.

Each time after Dad had raped me, he would give me treats and sweets. If I asked him for sweets I always got them. If my mother said no to something, my Dad would say yes.

Through clever manipulative behaviour, my father coached me to detach from my mother, to grow apart from her, and to eventually hate her, resent her.

I will never heal from the loss of this relationship. I will never heal from the regret of not reaching out to my mother, of not telling, of not getting her to rescue me.

But he made sure this would never happen, that I would never tell her.

My “best friends” relationship with my brother also ended — we grew apart. Life had changed.

He didn’t know my secret. Like with my mum, I have a lifetime of regret for pushing my brother away.

Again, my father would treat me to many things after the abuse, and my poor brother was left out on the periphery of our special relationship.

As my little sister grew, and my father’s abuse and rape of me continued, I naturally resented her, and, although again she did not understand why, I often let her know just how much I resented her. I’ve carried this resentment and a jealously of my siblings.

They were normal, they had a normal life, and I was envious. I worry now that I have taken a father from my brother and sister.

I wish I could go into a time capsule, and that I could go back to a normal childhood, a normal family.

After all these years, we are now only trying to rebuild those lost relationships. They are giving me courage and support to go through this and stand in front of you today.

I never did well at school. I felt I was a failure. In school every day, I would look at other girls my age and wonder if they had a secret too.

Every single day I fantasised about telling somebody. I longed that somebody would notice me, and realise what was happening to me.

I hoped one of my teachers would pick up that something was wrong. I often pretended to be sick in the hope somebody might notice. In school, I could never forge solid friendships. I was damaged, I was not the real me.

My education suffered terribly. I could not concentrate, and dreamt for somebody to notice me, notice what was happening to me.

My education slipped away. To cover for this, my father would often do my homework for me. And through all this, I felt I was the biggest deceiver...

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