There seems little understanding about how child abuse smoothly transitions into adulthood abuse by the perpetrator’s continued control over the victim. This is particularly relevant when the abuser is a parent or close relative.
The police have defined the crimes committed against me as an adult under many headings including; harassment, theft, sexual abuse, physical abuse and coercive control on a form, and malicious communications. One police officer said what my father was doing was near stalking behaviour but I don’t think he officially recorded it as such.
Each crime is recorded in its own separate little distinct box of crimes. It seems crimes are lumped into two different areas; childhood sexual abuse and, as an adult, it transitions under the umbrella of domestic abuse.
Unfortunately most of the research, practice and procedures are aimed at partner on partner domestic abuse. Very little seems to be known about child abuse that transitions into adult abuse in the intra familial setting. It doesn’t just stop because a victim reaches the age of 18.
There is sometimes a buffer between the adult victim and the perpetrator in adulthood where the victim is not so easily accessible such as a move out of the family home, a partner or marriage, or the other parent, generally mother/step mother has most interactions with the victim but these are controlled by the perpetrator.
The control and the abuse does not stop because the victim is less accessible, it just changes for the child victim and, like a chameleon, the perpetrator adapts well to the new dynamics of control and silence.
Children don’t tend to report child abuse particularly in a familial setting. Not in the straightforward sense.
Adult victims have had a lot of control imposed over them and family dynamics become complicated. There certainly was in my case a very strong sense of loyalty towards my my mother.
I did not care about my father as an adult but my mother was someone whom I loved dearly and who would plead, beg and cry desperately to me if I ever, as she termed it, “kicked off” about my father. She had also controlled my silence. I could never be disloyal to my mother. She had to live with him. I loved my mother immeasurably. I recognise she failed me too, in a different way, but I still love my mother.
It was not until my mother had lost mental capacity and my father was still abusing her that I “kicked off” or, as I like to term, “disclose” to authorities and that, unfortunately was just a horrendous experience for me, where I was vilified by social services and the nurse caring for my mother because my father was a “kind, lovely man”.
To add insult to injury during my disclosures my police report was given to my father prior to a safeguarding meeting detailing, amongst other things, where I was receiving treatment and personal details. I had an apology from the police and others but after years of silence my experience of disclosing was and has been just horrendous.
Also, many of those adult children will have tried to disclose childhood abuse in less direct ways but have been ignored.
Clearly that was a major mistake on behalf of the services but beyond that the system needs a radical overhaul. There is such a lack of understanding from them about the family dynamics. Who is protecting whom and why and all the layers and levels of control and conflict within the family.
What is intra familial abuse?
The U.K. Crown Prosecution Service define an intra familial setting as one that, “reflect a modern family unit and take into account where someone is living within the same household as the child and assuming a position of trust and authority over that child.”
It’s extremely difficult to obtain statistics in respect of intra familial abuse. It’s rarely reported but current statistics show 4% of sexual assaults reported by under 16’s are committed by fathers, 5% step fathers and 1% mothers. Abuse in the family setting generally starts at a younger age, over a longer period of time, with the most serious forms of abuse being committed by family members. Therefore why is so little understood and why is it so under reported?
Dr Jessica Taylor from Victim Focus recently undertook a huge study of 22,419 women and the survey found that before the age of 18, 82% had been sexually touched, 30% of those had been forced into have sex under the age of 13, and a third had been coerced or forced into penetrative sex. These are huge statistics of a large sample of women. Clearly not all of these girls would have suffered intra familial abuse but I suspect that official figures released by the government do not go anywhere near reflecting the true scale of intra familial abuse. How can it when children remain silent?
Family ties don’t stop when a child reaches 18. The abuser in the family still has to maintain the victim’s silence and compliance. There is very little research or statistics about the continuation of intra familial abuse into adulthood.
Confusion and Secrecy
Child abuse surrounds so much secrecy and is extremely complex. I “loved” my father as a child. Now I believe it was because society teaches children to love parents regardless. This was also reinforced by him that I had to robot off, “I love you” without a thought to what those words meant.
I also absolutely hated him too but that hate was hidden because it was not acceptable in society. My feelings were confused and I could not understand them.
I had a financially stable family so I was given ponies or horses and most other things I needed. To me this was a display of “love”. I have realised it was not it was a way of maintaining silence. However, on the flip side, I knew these things could have just as easily have been taken away.
I did not connect the dots between the gifts being part of the grooming process, or what I like to call the silencing process, but also these gifts were used as leverage as threats which could be removed. Every little girl loves a pony and the threat of it being removed or worse is part of compliance. Violence is also part of the compliance yet my father could be kind and sometimes we would do normal things. I was desperate for a “normal family”.
There was also the shame of what was happening and self blame. This made disclosures in the normal sense impossible.
Also, what would happen if the family was split up and I was put into care. That would be my fault. There was all those worries I had to carry. I would lose my pets. I would lose my mother and sister. I would betray my whole family. What if I was not believed it would be worse for me.
That is not to say that I did not speak out in what I saw were childlike ways and ways I probably deemed as safe. It is saying this is happening without saying, this is happening. Those signs and red flags were completely ignored.
They are ignored now even though I directly say it as an adult. I can say my father is a danger to children and women until I am blue in the face and give reasons why but he still has access to children. It’s like a car crash happening in slow motion. I am warning the drivers of impending doom but they choose to look the other way and boom 💥
I’ve reported which children he has access to and he still has access to them but because he has not been convicted it doesn’t mean anything. So many sex offenders are not convicted and still have access to children and this government pander to this misnomer. This is because prosecution rates are low, victims do not come forward and when they do a lot of the times they are not treated too well. Police and court satisfaction are at an all time low for victims of sexual crimes and whilst they are all finger pointing at each other nobody is stopping to say what about the victims. Silenced again by the system. That benefits nobody.
There are all these buzzwords in safeguarding such as vulnerable adults/children but it is lip service. It’s a tick box. It means nothing. It’s wholly ineffective. My father, a child abuser, an abuser of women has free access to all and I am the one who has been vilified and failed since being a child by services. Not him, he has his freedom. I do not have my freedom as the abuse continues for me and also as flashbacks suffering from terrible PTSD. I am living in the psychological prison.
My father is a big risk to me personally and the abuse did not change the moment I turned 18. I have continued to get gifts. Money, jewellery etc. Is this because he loved me? No this is to continue to silence me. I did not realise the significance of this. Nobody told me. Why are children not taught this as a matter of course?
Even as an older teenager (16 ish) he would have what he called secret date nights with me where he would not tell my mother and buy me a takeaway. My mother found out by chance when she came home from work early. This had been going on for a long time. These “date nights” were not innocent and very much a secret. My mother did not intervene and it continued despite her knowledge. To me, getting a takeaway, which had to be Chinese ( his choice), was better than a punch, and if I was slow enough eating it I could delay the inevitable.
Stalking? Harassment? Control?Domestic Abuse?
More recently my mother’s solicitor said my father was obsessed with me. She was extremely concerned about his behaviour towards me. He displayed these behaviours publicly about me when he was in a stressful situation under scrutiny and was unable to control himself. My father can normally control himself quite well publicly except in those type of stressful situations where he is not in control. She is an intelligent woman. He could not manipulate her despite trying and I do not think he liked this one bit.
When I have read the legal definition of stalking he seems to fit this category extremely well of a stalker but the police record him as harassing me. I talked to a stalking charity who were concerned about his behaviour and gave me some good advice.
So is it stalking or harassment or control domestic abuse? It seems very unclear. The police recording of it is unclear. One policeman recorded it as a form of control. I believe this was the most accurate description. I had never heard of this crime before.
There seems to be no consistency in recording the crimes that have been committed against me. Also, very little understanding from the professionals about living in a family of control.
Any crimes that I do report are seen as separate incidents. This is a mistake. They are not separate and distinct crimes. They are part of a large picture of control and abuse that have happened to me over many years. The harassment is not “harassment” but control. The theft is not simply “theft” but control. The physical assaults and sexual assaults as an adult are not simply attempts at abusing me but all part of controlling me. This is a continuation from childhood.
Clearly I am not here to rewrite the law or how the police record crimes. They are directed by process and procedures. Maybe they need to be changed.
However when I have reported on occasions what has happened to me it’s small holes that make up a large picture. The police see it as small holes. This is because we are reporting “small holes”. An email is just an email, a theft is just a theft, an assault is just an assault…
All those things are a big message from my father which is basically, “don’t break the silence. I am in charge. I am the one in control. Remember what I can do to you.” These are sinister undertones. Most victims of intra-familial abuse will be fully aware of the sinister undertones. I suspect it is very similar to those of partner abuse too.
My father will use whatever method he can or whatever tools he can to maintain that control which he is doing quite successfully. Due to my experiences with the authorities, who are meant to be the experts in this area, I have been let down as have so many other victims. Why? I believe there are so many paper processes that are badly thought through. Lack of understanding, training and of course victim blaming. Rather than finding the truth the system is adversarial. Victims do not get their own legal representation unlike perpetrators. Nobody protects the victim. Nobody has ever protected the victim. Nobody is that interested in the truth. The CPS is interested in taking cases which is likely to get them a successful conviction and the defendants are interested in maintaining freedom.
The victims are helpless. They are stuck in the middle and in a minefield with nowhere to turn and actually nobody is on their side. Finding out the truth does not have to be adversarial. This has to stop. The victim needs their own legal representative, as does the crown and the defendant. They need to seek out the truth. The victim is not fighting from a place of strength but fear, being controlled and normally, years of being told nobody will believe them. There is often no scientific evidence to support their cases.
Also the system fails to recognise a huge important factor. Most long term abuse victims suffer with mental health problems. This in itself is so stigmatising. It might come as no surprise I have been diagnosed with PTSD. Somehow, that would seem more acceptable if I had got it as a result of fighting for my country rather than from being abused. Automatically I am just thrown into the stigma box by services of “vulnerabilities” of mental health. You are scrutinised more about your ability to cope. The abuser is not but you certainly are. I know people who are now criminalised for calling for help from emergency services in times of crisis and that horrifies me. These are abuse victims and trauma victims.
This is not a good stigma to have with the services because automatically you are seen as a “problem”. PTSD is just a trauma response and this needs to be made clear to services. I was extremely surprised by the response of the police to mental health because I suspect a lot of officers would suffer from PTSD. I thought they would have had a much better understanding. Some do. Some really do not. Just because I suffer from PTSD does not mean my brain fell out, it does not mean I am stupid. I am a normal person but need some adjustments when talking about my father.
One police officer who visit me was just impressed my house was so tidy. I am traumatised reporting serious crimes and he’s talking about my tidy house. It was not small talk. It’s part of their assessment of my ability to cope. Ability to cope? I had been a “wife” role to my father from the age of about 7. I’ve coped! It’s insulting.
Would this comment ever be made to someone who was a victim of a car theft or a distraction robbery? I wholly doubt that. It’s so insulting. I felt like shoving my feather duster up his nose to shake his brains.
Timeline from childhood to adulthood – failing to connect the dots
All of the incidents that have happened to me are a timeline of my father’s control over my life from birth to now. From the first incident of sexual abuse, the first punch as a small girl, the first smashing of my favourite toy or the beating of my favourite pet is all about maintaining control and silence. Why are the authorities inadvertently allowing the silence to continue? It’s a continuation.
The crimes might be recorded under neatly individual parcelled headings chosen by individual officers but I recently recognised that in them doing so they wholly fail to take into account that it’s a massive picture of abuse and control. The reports are taken by individual officers (never the same one) and for me over three different counties depending where the crime was committed. There is no consistency just confusion. They are making a very large mistake. Things are being missed. Half the jigsaw puzzle is missing.
Police and the courts need to recognise these failures. I don’t blame them for not connecting the dots but they need to begin to do so in order to save lives and protect other victims. In brutal terms this is cost saving. It seems governments and departments only speak the language of money rather than one of actual human suffering.
Saving a potential future victim is massive in terms of police cost, court cost, NHS cost and social funding.
Clearly I look at it wholly from human suffering point of view because I am a victim. He has also left a trail of victims who can’t or won’t speak out because of family complexities, secrets and betrayals.
I have always spoken out in my own way with an indefatigable spirit but it’s always been squashed and trodden on by the system. The system fails. Why does the system fail?
I don’t have all the answers. For a start I have moved over three different counties and depending upon the county the crime has been committed in I am required to deal with that force area. Not only that I have to deal with different officers every time in different areas. I do not want to have to open up every single time. I am traumatised. I also have a form of trauma amnesia so I can’t remember.
Some officers are better than others. Some officers are brilliant. They really are so why are these not assigned to abuse victims. I recently met one female officer who fully understand the system failures. She said she had been a victim of rape and the system failed her. Years later the man who has raped her had gone on to rape other women. She was absolutely an amazing courageous officer. She was thorough and understood trauma. She is a credit to my local force area. Any victim who has her is lucky. But it should not be about luck.
Some do not have the awareness. Also you are required to try to explain the situation. Intra-familial abuse is complex. It’s not a case of reporting a single crime (which you end up doing and some seem insignificant-hence not the whole picture) and clearly you do not get the same officer each time who just sees it as insignificant. In itself it is and I wouldn’t report it but it is a piece by piece picture.
Many victims have previously tried to disclose before, have been dismissed or humiliated, the there is further failures in the system and trust has gone. It’s a them (the police and courts) v us (victims). Most of the victims I have spoken to there is a strong perception of victim v perpetrator, police, courts and their trauma.
Victims don’t just splurge on the first meeting or second meeting with police. It takes multiple meetings. The police are hoping to gain information that victims have kept silent for years. Why would they open up to someone who they have never met before let alone if they are unlucky enough to meet an officer who has no understanding of trauma or abuse?
I have met both. I have met some excellent officers and some who are poorly trained in this area. The difference is stark and it makes a massive difference.
Recent police contact of escalating crime- nothing can be done
More recently I contacted the police with grave concern that matters are escalating with my father. I have a real fear that my father will kill me. In the box when you write on 101 it asks for incidents leading up the the event.
This is extremely difficult for me to complete. From the outset I suffer from a form of trauma amnesia. Some incidents of sexual assaults have only come to light by pure accident. How many do I list? What do I list? This is stressful for me. There should be a box for abuse victims simply to tick “domestic abuse” and additional details if possible.
My father is suing me in civil proceedings and I had requested my friend submit a statement in support to describe how my father controlled my life.
I didn’t give him specific instructions. When I received his statement I was extremely shocked with the content. I could not recall the events he could. A part of my life I had no recollection of whatsoever.
I was not traumatised by what he recalled but the fact I could not remember the incidents. It made me wonder what had happened to me that I could not recall.
My counsellor assured me this was completely normal for someone who had been abused so badly over such a long time.
I tried to briefly explain this and only some of the other events as best as I could in the events leading up to the main incident. I had to consider what actually was the main incident I was reporting. I did not know there are so many.
I decided that the main incident was that matters were escalating and I wanted to let the police know. As incidents had been reported over three force areas I didn’t know who had what as some crimes happen across different counties. I also do not report everything due to lack of trust and could not recall what crimes had been reported previously.
Despite the police in Wales being part of my data breach I was becoming scared for my future and had to suck up my fears of another data breach, but let them know I was frightened with ongoing events. Ongoing events are extremely complicated and I didn’t really want to disclose them. I don’t know how to. In intra familial abuse it’s not straightforward. It’s family ties, family secrets, family betrayals. It’s intertwined. It’s complex.
Sometimes you don’t or can’t give the full picture in one or a few meetings with authorities. Sometimes recent events are disclosed. Sometimes historical events are disclosed . It’s jumbled.
My Gp had suggested that I need to report that matters were escalating given he takes comprehensive accounts from me about what had happened.
How do I explain to the police years of abuse. How do I articulate all the incidents when they see them as separate and distinct and it’s all intertwined with other family members being victims and/or perpetrators? Do they have two days to spare? Do they truly understand. I do not think they do understand familial abuse transitioning into adulthood. It doesn’t just stop at 18. The abuser still abuses and has control but changes like a chameleon to suit the new environment.
I had asked for email contact by the police. I don’t have an individual officer it’s someone different every time. They also ask very personal questions. I don’t like answering those questions to people I don’t know.
I am traumatised when speaking about matters and need time to manage my Ptsd. I understand the police are not there to manage that, I do so myself relatively successfully, but I have to take steps in order to do so and sometimes that includes managing my interactions with them especially when my father is being abusive simultaneously.
Some police bombard you with questions. I understand and that is their job. It is not a criticism of the police but it doesn’t work well with trauma victims. I get upset but I rarely show it. I have been taught not to show my emotions.
There are also other reasons I prefer email rather than the telephone. I can use the telephone but need advance notice.
The police rocked up to my door in a police car. I was absolutely mortified and not expecting them to call. I was bombarded with a lot of questions and asked about dates. I could not give them dates. I honestly think they thought I was a bit thick. When did this sexual assault happen, what about this one? “I don’t know. I don’t know. I can remember. I need to think about it…I don’t know.”
“Well what year was it? “
“I don’t know. I can’t recall. I need to think about it.”
I needed to ask my friend or GP. I had no idea.
It ended up the basic timeline being, “did this happen before or after lockdown?”
This is not a criticism of the police but I have had so much happen to me by my father I cannot recall events or dates and because things are ongoing and on a regular basis my brain does not have the same recall as someone who say has suffered two car thefts and might be able to recall one happened in 2011 and another in 2019.
My brain is traumatised discussing my father and my past history. I was feeling distressed and after they left I felt extremely unwell. I am sure this was not their intention at all. Simply I was left with a trauma response.
The police do not understand the effects discussing this has on me particularly raising historical abuse.
I really need it to be carefully managed hence I need to know in advance when the police intend to contact me.
What was more upsetting was my concern was the escalation of matters. My father is pursuing me in a civil case. This has escalated matters exponentially. I believe that after this is resolved he will kill me or cause me serious harm. This is a real fear of mine.
I tried to explain this to the PC who said that it was a civil matter not a criminal matter and nothing to do with the police. I did not discuss my background but explained to him whilst I understand my father can sue me as often as he chooses to do so and has every right (despite it being frivolous) he is using this case and his behaviour is escalating. I believe this is part of his control.
Just because it is a civil case, and it’s the second one, does not mean that his behaviour is not crossing over into criminality. It has. He was also talking about a third case against me but his solicitor could not tell me what that one would be.
I did explain he had stolen my money and my mother’s money when she was alive but decided not to explain about the other big theft. I just felt it was too complex.
What he had done is all part of his coercive control in addition to other things but I just could not explain it to him. I did not feel there was any point. My mind was stuck in trauma. I did not feel be would understand, maybe he would, but the link between this and all the other individual crimes reported but it was a series of crimes by one perpetrator who is not only a sexual abuser but extremely violent. My brain could not articulate matters. It stuck. I just felt I was wasting police time.
Past blending to present
When the police don’t see the full picture it’s not accurate of the whole incidents.
I know that my father used to drown kittens as a child. My father needs to be asked about how he trained his spaniels but not as if he Is under scrutiny. My father needs to be asked about the state my poor Betty was in when I got her back. My father is violent and cruel to animals, children and women. I did not explain this to him.
I wanted to notify the police that I am scared matters were escalating. I was told the police cannot do anything with my father. Just to log things. I explained I had a letter from him apologising for a sexual assault. They did not request the statement from my friend.
I do believe the PC just did not have the answers. Maybe he is right and that the police cannot do anything about my father. Maybe the sexual assaults, the harassment, property damage and thefts are just more acceptable to the courts because it’s my father. I don’t know. Maybe there is nothing that can be done.
Maybe just because my complaint is fear by escalation is not a crime. Maybe there is nothing the police can do so it does make me wonder the whole point of the buzzword of safeguarding. It is lip service and box ticking.
I am not blaming the PC. He’s doing exactly what he has to do but it’s utter madness.
All I can do is make a video statement of events and send it to my friend in case anything happens to me as an after event because I am damned if he gets away with it. Is that is all that is left for victims? I cannot think of anything else. There is just no point in reporting things now knowing nothing can be done. All I know is my father can continue with his harassment freely and that is very hard to live with because I think the police do not see the full picture. I wonder if I was in a relationship and it wasn’t intra familial if it would be viewed differently. I believe so.
I was told I have to make a diary. Again, I don’t think I have been told this before but I do have a diary of my ramblings but didn’t hand it over.
I need someone to look at my father and think you know he is a risk to women and girls. She’s right to raise the issues and he needs to be stopped.
One man has caused at least three generations of suffering. This was unnecessary had services not just seen all the small holes but put the bigger picture together we would not be here – yet here we are. Where is the scrutiny? Clearly with me and my tidy house and not with the perpetrator where nothing can be done to him.
Multiple times I have complained about email contact from my father. Some of those emails have been quite disturbing.
It seems quite innocuous to receive email communication. If I had reported every email I had received from my father the police would have been invited to my Christmas party.
Clearly I do not report most of the crimes that have been committed against me since the police and other services breached my data. However when I have I’ve been given conflicting advice over what to do; change your email address (I’ve moved several times, changed my phone number it’s the only thing left of me why should I? Although I never say that and nod my head in compliance ), I’ve been told to just delete all of them and forget about it (funny my father told me to forget about the sexual abuse) or make sure you keep them all as evidence. So which one is it? If they can’t do anything anyway what is the point of anything but the second one? Delete them and forget about it all. Except trauma doesn’t work like that. I have deleted many of them under advice thinking it will also delete my trauma. It doesn’t.
The advice given is so conflicting. As a traumatised victim we are looking for consistent guidance on how to manage the situation, when that advice is conflicting and confusing, how can this be beneficial?
Worryingly, I have just discovered that it is not advisable to block stalkers but just to mute them as they are more likely to seek you out in person. Why isn’t this basic advice given by police consistent? Even when that is the polices own advice to the police?
Due to having multiple moves over several counties the crimes have been recorded as harassment or malicious communication offences. Even the recording of this crime does not seem consistent. I can recall one particular email contained disturbing detail about killing. Is this harassment or a malicious communication?
He sent me a picture of my mother and it looked like she had been slapped across the face, it was a horrible picture, was this harassment or malicious communications? I don’t know. Is it domestic abuse?
This was in response to me telling him to never contact me again because he had abused me. He told me that I had made him very upset calling him an abuser. Yet, he sent me a note apologising for a serious sexual assault and told me to forget about it and the “past was in the past”.
The police quite rightly record child abuse as “child abuse” but when the same perpetrator continues the abuse into adulthood it’s classed as domestic abuse. It seems so much is geared towards partner on partner abuse it fails to encapsulate the full effects of familial abuse. Professionals seem to fail to grasp the full understanding of children abused by parents or close care givers when they become adults. It is important that they recognise and make provisions for adults who continue to suffer intra-familial abuse.
My mother never managed to fully leave my father and somehow acted as the “buffer” to that control he had over me. When she lost capacity and subsequently died that “buffer” was lost and I am getting the brunt of the harassment.
I have tried to explain this to the police but despite it escalating I have been told there is nothing they can do. I fear my father will kill me because ultimately he will lose control. So, my view is they can only do something after he kills me. This is not comforting. I hope he won’t do anything more to hurt me but he uses family members as well. This is the intertwining of family secrets and betrayals.
This is normal behaviour in my family. I am used to this behaviour. As a child I had got used to it and thought that was how families behaved, sacrificing themselves at all costs to protect the alpha male.
My mother would defend my father’s behaviour and would tell me not to “rock the boat” or fight with him, even though I had a lot of anger and had got past the point of caring with him because then we all suffered the brunt.
Everyone had to capitulate to my father. I am not. It’s unknown territory for both of us. Except my father is acting in ways he knows to maintain his control at whatever cost. I am paying the price and still there is little support or understanding. This was the same as when I was a child. But, at least my house will be tidy for when crime scene officers attend 🙄