Brushing my teeth in the bathroom mirror, I swirled around hearing the door close suddenly. My foster dad Anthony George, 74, was standing in front of me, and I wondered
if I was in trouble. ‘You alright dad,’ I said, through a mouthful of toothpaste.
‘Hello sweetheart,’ he leered, moving towards me. My body froze as he grabbed hold of me. His hands began to wonder over and under my clothes. ‘Wh-what are you doing,’ I trembled.
I was eleven years old and had no idea what was happening. ‘Shhh,’ dad said, before letting out a moan. I squeezed my eyes shut, and prayed it would stop soon. Whatever he was doing, I didn’t like it.
After what felt like a lifetime, his fingers finally stopped fumbling. ‘If you ever tell anyone about this, I will kill you,’ dad said, pushing me to one side. I watched on, shaking and confused, as dad turned and walked out the door.
I’d been in the George’s care from the age of two, but up until the age of nine I thought they were my real parents. When my real mum tried to get in touch with me, all was revealed. I still wasn’t interested in any contact with her.
Although I never felt particularly loved by Anthony and his wife, I was grateful they’d given me a home. If only I knew what was looming ahead.
After the incident in bathroom, dad made regular trips into my bedroom at night. He even took off the door and replaced it with a curtain, so I couldn’t block myself in.
As well as threatening to kill me, he’d give me money to keep my mouth shut. Sitting on the end of my bed, he grabbed my wrist. ‘I’ll give you a fiver for some sweeties, if you touch me here,’ he said, thrusting my hand onto his crotch.
Beside him lay his paper list of sexual acts and a price next each of them. ‘Be a good girl, and you’ll get your pocket money,’ he cooed. ‘Okay,’ I sniffled.
When I was 14, dad took me to his mum’s house. She was away on holiday and he said we were going over to water the plants. Inside, dad guided me down the corridor to a closed door. ‘Get in,’ he said, throwing the door open.
As I stepped inside, I realised we were in a bedroom. I turned to flee, but dad overpowered me. Pushing me onto the bed, he fumbled with his belt, before yanking off my pants and trousers.
I shrieked in agony, as he climbed on top of me and forced his way inside me. ‘Please, no, you’re hurting me,’ I sobbed, trying to push him off. It was no use though, he was too strong. I had no choice but to lie whimpering until he was finished with me.
My behaviour at school became difficult after that. I’d shout and scream in the classroom, and refuse to do what the teachers said. I was crying out for attention. Everytime the headteacher pulled me into his room, I was dying to tell him.
‘You’ve been acting out of character, Karen,’ he said. ‘Is there something going on?’ The words were at the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t say them. ‘No sir,’ I said, my eyes to the floor.
By the time I’d reached 15, I’d had enough of dad’s bedroom visits. With a friend from school, we ran away to one of her relatives. They let us stay the night, before calling the police in the morning. ‘Don’t take me back,’ I pleaded to the police.
When I got back home, Anthony acted like a doting parent in front of the police. ‘Thank god,’ he said, grabbing me into a hug. ‘We were so worried about you.’ His doting father act made me feel sick. He left me alone for a couple of days, but he was soon creeping into my room again.
When I turned 18, I finally allowed to leave care. I went out on my birthday to celebrate my nar freedom from hell. But while I was putting my makeup on in the mirror, Anthony came in to rape me one more time.
‘Go away,’ I said, as he entered the room, but it was no use. He continued to walk towards me, undoing his zip. There was no point in fighting, as I knew he’d overpower me. I just closed my eyes and reminded myself it would all be over soon.
After he’d finished, he gave me the same threat he always did. ‘If you ever tell anyone, I’ll hunt you down and kill you,’ he hissed.
For the next couple of years, I tried to move on with my life, but the nightmares wouldn’t leave. I woke up most nights in cold sweats, screaming.
Then, when I was 21, I heard the George’s were fostering again. One of the children was an eight-year-old girl, and I couldn’t bare the thought of her going through what I had.
Walking into the station I was absolutely terrified, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Initial investigations were started, but there wasn’t enough evidence to take the case to court. I couldn’t believe I’d put myself through the trauma of speaking out for nothing.
For the next twenty years I moved from city to city, so Anthony could never find me. I turned to drink and drugs to block out the pain, and fell into a black hole of depression.I was in constant fear for my life, and even contemplated taking my own. Life just didn’t seem worth living anymore.
When I met my partner Colin nine years ago, he brought me back to life again. He was my rock, and made me feel like I was worth something. When I told him what had happened with Anthony, he was incredibly supportive. ‘I’d like to see him try to get near you,’ he growled.
We were in bed one day in January (this year), when there was a knock at the door. When I went downstairs to answer it, I was shocked to see the police standing there.’We’re here about Anthony George,’ one of the officers said.
My heart jumped out of my chest at his name. ‘Well, it took you long enough,’ I scoffed. ‘What do you need to know?’ He told me two more victims had come forward. Finally there was enough evidence to bring him to justice.
In March this year, at Bradford Crown Court, Anthony George pleaded guilty to 17 offences, including two rapes, buggery and indecency with a child. Nine of the charges were related to me – two for rape and seven for sexual abuse.
The court heard that 74-year-old Anthony George had helped more than 20 children as a foster carer, and also had links to a local scout group.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said any previous good character or contribution to the community had been marred by the extent of his offending. He said George, who has problems with diabetes and arthritis, would have to serve at least half of the 22-year sentence he was imposing on him, adding: “If you survive that long.”
I hope he rots in prison. Weirdly, part of me wants to go and visit him.I was relieved I didn’t have to go through a trial, but it meant I didn’t get any answers. I want to face him and ask him why?
Maybe one day I will, but for now, I just want to put it all behind me. I want to start enjoying my life. I know the emotional scars will always be there, but finally I feel safe to walk out the door.
It’s a relief knowing I no longer have to look over my shoulder, or rely on Colin to protect me. Finally, I feel in control of my own destiny, and it feels amazing.
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