A MOTHER living in the Redruth area who endured years of childhood sexual abuse has spoken out for the first time about her "disturbing and sickening" secret.
Justice caught up with two pensioners last month as they were jailed for a string of historical offences against a schoolgirl in Helston in the 1970s.
John Rosewarne, 63, from Redruth and Robert Simpson, 80, from Helston, were sentenced to ten years and 45 months respectively at Truro Crown Court for the crimes they started when their victim was just nine years of age.
Now, 37 years later, the mother of two, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has talked about the effects her tormented childhood had on her. She said it was important that other victims who had experienced similar trauma could find strength and support to get justice. "As a young woman I slowly realised that what happened to me was wrong and I spent a lot of time working stuff out and thinking that was not OK.
"I tried to bury the secret and initially only told one friend about it."
The 47-year-old said she somehow managed to function, work and establish relationships.
But she said the abuse always remained at the back of her mind.
"I spent a lot of time looking at photographs from my childhood and part of the reason for that was that in those early years as a young adult I questioned myself a lot.
"I wondered if it was my fault, if I was overdeveloped and tried to deal with the shame.
"I suffered from depression, for which I sought professional help, and struggled with trust issues. It had a major impact on my family life and it eventually broke my marriage.
"But it was my children that gave me a purpose and a reason to get up. I cannot stress enough how important a part they played in keeping me functioning."
In the early 1990s she started telling a small circle of friends and family about some of the abuse. But she said her need to protect certain people prevented her from reporting the men to the police.
"More people started knowing about it but it still remained a secret. I think you have got to be ready to talk about it, and I wasn't. I was protecting people, my children were young, I did not know if people would believe me and I feared the truth would blow everything apart. I knew it could change everything forever and I could lose family and friendships.
"It was not until there was a change in the family dynamics in 2008 that I felt I could take control of my life and do something about it.
"Around that time I also faced my abusers and that triggered something. I realised the men were living their lives without any consequences. It was evident that they did not understand how much damage something like this does to people.
"Also, one of the abusers was getting older and I thought to myself, 'would I be happy if he died without facing any consequences,' and the answer was 'no'. I had worked so hard to forget, fought and fought, and thought I must see this to the end and get some justice."
She reported the men in 2011 and 18 months later Rosewarne was found guilty of the offences following a jury trial while Simpson had admitted some of the charges. The judge said their victim would never be truly free from the abuse which he described as "disturbing, sickening and painful".
Following the court case, the mum said: "This was my one and only chance and I decided I would walk in there (court) and tell the truth, and that's what I did.
"I got justice and there's nothing else I can do. I want my children to know that sometimes pretty awful things can happen but it does not mean that's the way it has got to be. There's a right and a wrong and this verdict and being believed, has made a huge difference to my life.
"The abuse will never go away and it's always there, part of me, and who I am but I am not ashamed about it any more. Weight has lifted off my shoulders and all the shame and bad feelings are gone."
The woman said she received tremendous support from her best friends and family for which she is grateful.
She was also supported by the Willow Centre in Truro, which offers confidential help and advice for sexual abuse victims in Cornwall. The centre can be contacted by calling 01872 272059.