TWO sisters have recalled the shocking moment they both realised they had been sexually abused by the same man as they lay sleeping in the bed they shared as children in their home in Lisnaskea.
They have recollected how the family relative entrusted by their parents to occasionally look after them got into their beds at night and sexually molested them between the ages of seven and 10.
And they only realised they had both been cruelly abused when they attended a family funeral years later.
This particular man has now been named to The Impartial Reporter in recent months by five different people as having allegedly abused them as children. It is claimed he now is in regular contact with children having not been found guilty of any crime.
Like very many alleged abuse victims in recent months, Pauline and Anne (not their real names) have come forward to tell their stories in the hope of finally get tingjustice after more than three decades.
It was a fairly ordinary household back then in the south Fermanagh town with two busy parents and even busier siblings. It was a house full of noise and mischief. At the front was the bedroom where their mother and father slept while at the back was the room they shared until they were old enough to move out.
“There were two double beds in that backroom” said Pauline, now aged 44. “There was a bed, a locker and a chest of drawers. My sister and I used to share the bed,” she said.
When their parents were away, and sometimes even when they were not, their male relative who was in his early 20s at the time stayed over.
“He was allowed to sleep in the same bed as us, I suppose there was trust back then. When mummy and daddy were out he’d get in the bed beside us. That would never happen these days,” said Pauline.
They claim the man waited until everyone else was asleep before abusing the two of them as they lay in their night-dresses.
“I remember I was asleep, I woke up and he took my hand and placed it on his penis. I knew it was wrong, I was only about 10. I remember him putting that thing in my hand,” she said.
The room was in darkness and on that particular night her parents were fast asleep at the front of the house and did not know what was happening in the other room.
“I knew what he was doing was wrong, what the hell was he doing that for? He could have been at that every time he was in the bed beside me. He would lay there rubbing his penis, most of the time he would be beside us in just his boxers,” she said.
Anne’s memories of her relative are just as vivid; she can remember how he used to sit her on his knee in full view of her family members and “jig me up and down”. She was seven or eight years old when he repeatedly used this opportunity to sexually abuse her in their living room in broad daylight.
“I would feel his hand going in between my legs and touching me. He started to feel me. He would have been watching the telly when he was doing it and mummy or daddy would have been about. He did it anyway, I didn’t know what was going on,” she told this newspaper.
Now 42, Anne, says her childhood was destroyed by a man who allegedly abused her at any given opportunity in a place where she should have been safe – her own home.
She remembers when she was around eight being in bed dressed in her night-dress. The other bed in the room was pushed against the wall and he got in beside her.
“We used to fight to put the bed up against the wall, and fight over who had to sleep next to him. He would jump into the bed beside one of us. I remember that night he put his hand right in between my legs and he was hurting me,” said Anne, pausing to collect her thoughts.
“I wasn’t asleep, I couldn’t sleep. He was touching me there. I remember trying to get away from him, I remember putting my nose up as close to the wall as I possibly could to get away from him. I crawled into myself but I couldn’t get away and he didn’t stop.”
Neither sister realised what was happening to the other until they were at a family funeral and he turned up.
“I remember seeing him there and I said, ‘that bastard used to touch me up’,” said Anne.
“And then I said, ‘he did the same to me’,” added Pauline. “I hadn’t even my confirmation when he had abused me. I remember I saw him 15 years ago in a pub; in he walked and said hello. I said to him; ‘Don’t you say hello to me, I remember what you did’. He didn’t even finish his drink, he got up and left and I haven’t seen him since.”
Pauline never had the confidence to go to the PSNI in the past but she does now.
“When you have kids yourself, you know, it makes you think. He needs to be stopped, there needs to be justice for what he has done. I have been too afraid to go to police, worried about the whole process, and not being believed. But he needs to be stopped.”
Anne did go to the police over a year ago but did not have the strength to follow it through. She does now and like her sister intends to make a formal statement.
“I was too afraid of the shame of it all coming out but I will go to the police now because I do believe it has had an impact on me. After being abused I turned to alcohol, I had a lot of sex, I took every drug going, everything and anything. He has ruined my life and is still walking the streets. The police need to arrest him, he needs to be put before the courts and behind bars,” she told this newspaper.