A 46-year-old woman who was abused 30 years ago has said she listened to her favourite singer Dionne Warwick to drowned out the pain of being abused in the hours before.
Stephanie Hickey has along with her sister, Deirdre Fahy (52), waived her right to anonymity so their abuser Bartholomew “Batty” Prendergast can be named.
Speaking to Eamon Keane on Deise Today on WLRFM, she described the 65-year-old as a “monster.”
“I lost everything, I lost those beautiful memories young girls have when they hit 12 or 13 becoming a teenager and your first crush which I know all young girls love.”
Ms Hickey was first sexual abused by “Batty” her sister’s husband at the age of 12 and continued up to her teenage years until she was 16 years of age.
“When I was around 12, I used to visit them [her sister and “Batty”] for the weekends or throughout the summer and he would collect me or arrange to pick me up at my parents and transport me to Tallow.
She said as the 65-year old would be working in Dungarvan County Council it would have been easier for him to pick her up and take her to her sister’s house to help with housework or work in her sister hairdressing shop in Tallow.
“He started being really nice, but I suppose as a child I didn’t see the danger because he was my brother-in-law and he was an adult and I felt this was ok, this was normal.”
As a result of the abuse also taken place on journeys and other locations around Co Waterford she never wanted to be left alone in the van, car or lorry with him.
Describing what she felt when being abused for the first time she said:
“I can’t actually describe the feeling… frightening, just in disbelief but he always led me to believe this was ok and it was normal and that no one would believe me, he was the adult and I was the child and it was our secret.”
She explained that as more accounts of sexual abuse went on, it got more frightening:
“The fear, the shame, the hurt, the anger but I was frozen I couldn’t and I knew I couldn’t control this. I didn’t have the courage to speak out because again he was the adult, people looked up to him including my family, who would have seen him as this pillar of society, if you would like to call it.”
She said her sister Deirdre who was also abused by “Batty” is carrying a lot of guilt that if she had spoken up maybe she could have protected her.
“That is a hard thing for my sister Deirdre to carry, I love her and I don’t blame her one bit for what has happened to me.
“She didn’t have anyone to protect her but she got out because she was older and she met Kieran who is now her husband and he saved her because she was able to leave that situation and I was the next sibling, so it moved on to me.”
“I always dreamed that if the day did come and I did get to speak up and my voice be heard that I could go forward in helping other woman, men, young girls and young boys going through or had being going through similar situations.”
She believes that sexual abuse awareness should be made aware more from national school right to secondary school.
“I still think the stigma that attached to this has to change and I want the law to change on the anonymity.”
Listen to her interview with Eamon below.