Woman tells High Court her abusive father allowed neighbours to also abuse her

A woman told the High Court her father sexually abused her between the ages of four and six and also facilitated similar abuse by neighbours and others.

The woman, now in her 30s, claimed the abuse happened in the 1980s until her mother took her and her sister to a woman’s refuge.

The children were later put into foster care after the woman told social workers her mother also abused her. Her mother was admitted to a psychiatric institution three years later.

The woman is suing her father for damages for sexual abuse and assault. He denies her claims.

The court heard that two years after they left the family home – when she was eight – she gave a statement to gardaí outlining the alleged abuse. A file was sent to the DPP who decided not to prosecute.

The woman told the jury of two women and 10 men that using male and female dolls, she showed a garda and social worker what had happened to her.

She did not remember at this stage much of the abuse she had outlined in her statement but remembered some of the surrounding environment including the places where it occurred.

It happened in a particular room of their home which her father brought her to at night; in their sitting room where she was forced to watch pornographic videos; in his car and in nearby houses. She said she was abused by others including the next door neighbour and his wife.

She said she was threatened and beaten with a bamboo stick and her father also threatened he would hurt her sister and mother “if you don’t be good”.

She remembered him holding her by the hand as “he brought me to other men’s houses” where he introduced them to her as “uncle” and to women as “aunt”. She remembered photographs and videos being taken while the abuse occurred.

Her father used to call her “the Smurf” and to this day she cannot watch the Smurfs cartoon.

She remembered being in pain as a result of the abuse and being unable to go to the toilet because of it for days afterwards.

She remembered lying naked on a sheepskin rug in the sitting room where a pornographic video was being played. She said she was forced to watch it and every time she turned her faced away, the neighbour slapped her face to make her watch.

She remembered being driven by the neighbour’s wife in a van when she was abused and then brought back to the neighbour’s house where she continued to abuse her.

She remembered telling the garda and social worker that her mother had also abused her in the room where her father took her. Her mother also hit her, she said.

Earlier, Sasha Gayer SC, for the woman, said this was a case with “horrendous detail of horrific sexual abuse”.

As well as denying all the claims, the father argues the action is statute-barred because she did not take it until many years after she became an adult.

Counsel said she was so traumatised by her experience, she was unable to cope with looking after a son she had when she was 18. The care of that child was taken over by her foster parents and she and her son drifted apart.

She suffered further tragedy when a young man she had been in love with died suddenly from sudden adult death syndrome, counsel said.

After seeing her father by chance in 2009, she decided to go to the gardaí and make a complaint. But again the DPP decided there would be no prosecution, counsel said.

At that stage, she decided the only way to make her father responsible was to bring the High Court civil proceedings.

The case continues.