“YOU all took my childhood away and ruined my life.”
That was the stark message of heartbroken Teresa O’Neill to her four older brothers as she tearfully read her victim impact statement from the witness box to Kilkenny Circuit Court.
Her brothers - Sean, Thomas, Pat and Denis Nolan - pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually and indecently assaulting her on dates between 1977 and 1982 at their family home in Maddoxtown.
And after spending a night in custody at Cloverhill Prison, Judge Alice Doyle imposed five year suspended prison sentences on the quartet on the second day of the trial.
It was revealed that Teresa and her brother Thomas were sexually assaulted at the home – described as a ‘house of horrors’ - of their now deceased grand-uncle.
On sex offenders register
Judge Doyle observed that the men were disgusted with themselves for the terror they inflicted on their sister. “The fact they feel so badly is punishment in itself and they’ll be placed on the sex offenders register.”
An emotional Mrs O’Neill bravely read from her statement, “I was your little sister. You should have looked after me and I thought you loved me. Every time I see you my stomach turns. You abused my trust and you have lost the right to be my brothers.”
She continued, “The crimes you committed against me hurt in so many ways that I lived in constant fear, not knowing when I was going to be preyed upon.”
She felt she was ‘a loser’. “I thought I was a loser. There were constant voices in my head. I got bullied in school by a teacher and I live in fear of authority. I always felt different and had a black sack packed with my clothes and I was going to leave home and go live beside the railway track.
“It has been horrendous all my life. I took to smoking and drinking. The more I drank the worse it got. I attempted to take my own life and couldn’t even get that right.
“The abuse became so normal. I ended up pregnant at 16 by a neighbour and was left to the boat for an abortion. I was terrified. I hated myself for letting my parents down. There was no escape. I’m constantly in and out of jobs. I’m anxious and it feels I have spent all my life on the run.
“I have low self-esteem and no confidence and I am not able to stand up to anyone. I feel I’m a loner. It is hard and painful and this is wearing me down. I cry all the time and feel I’ve no identity because I never got the chance.
‘Filled with shame and guilt’
“I’m filled with shame and guilt and I’m so angry that my brothers got to live their lives the way they wanted to because I didn’t. I suffered depression and paranoia and there have been regular visits to GP’s and I’ve been attending counselling for a number of years. I suffer flash backs. I find it hard to trust people and I just want to run and never stop. It is as if all I existed for was to be used and abused.
“I feel guilty that I am letting my husband down and that he’ll leave me for another woman. The only reason for my existence is my husband and two girls. They’ve supported me and deserve so much more than me. They are the only thing keeping me alive.
“All I wanted was to be loved and when I went and told my parents what had happened all they could say is that it went on in all families. And the last straw was when they told me it was my own fault. I’ve lost everything.
“I was gutted the day my mum asked me to drop the charges against my brothers. She said they didn’t mean it. They were only young and didn’t know better.
“I suffered systematic abuse and not one of them came and apologised. My life is so meaningless and how did you think so little of me and how did you abuse me and carry on as normal?
“I stand alone and with no support from any of my family. You all took my childhood away and ruined my life.”
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