Her father subjected her to horrific levels of abuse as a child (she chooses to only be identified as Helen). Helen told ITV that the abuse came to a head when she became pregnant with her father’s child at age 14.
Helen and her siblings were left in their father’s custody as toddlers after their mom ran off. From that time on, they endured a brutal and abusive childhood. Physical, sexual, and verbal abuse were the norm. Hunger was a constant. The main skill Helen and her siblings perfected throughout childhood was how to conceal bruises and scars.
“There was a lot of physical abuse, he would hit us with poker, a belt, or with a branch on the back of our legs,” she told ITV. “My sister and I dressed like old women in long skirts to hide the bruises. Sometimes he would force our brother to beat us.”
Helen and her siblings threatened to leave, but their father scared them out of it.
“He warned me ‘if you lose me, you’ll be locked up in an institution and the key will be thrown away,’” she recalls.
At age 14, Helen began feeling chronically ill. What she first thought was some type of ailment stemming from her poor health turned out to be morning sickness. She was pregnant with her father’s child.
Her father initially blasted her for claiming she was pregnant and said it was impossible for a girl to become pregnant by her father. She took a test and confirmed the pregnancy. Her father tried repeatedly to get her to abort the child, but Helen declined to. A few months later, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Helen wanted more than anything to move away from her father, but as a 14-year-old with a baby she had few options. The straw that led her to leave broke when she walked in on her father acting suspiciously with her child.
“I went out and came back to see him with the baby, her [diaper] was open, he was rubbing his hands together and he looked guilty, ‘what are you doing?’ I shouted at him,” she said. “I knew then I had to get out of there, I thought ‘could this really happen to a little baby?’”
Her daughter, Sarah, is an adult now. Helen says she is still her pride and joy. She never wanted Sarah to learn who her father was, but that hope was ruined one day when Sarah found her birth papers.
“For a period, she hated me,” Helen said. “She shut down and stopped dealing with her emotions.”
Her relationship with Sarah has gradually improved in recent years. When Helen looks back on her life, she wishes she would have left years earlier than she did.
“Tell someone, get it out there,” she said. “Don’t live with abuse and remember it’s not your fault.”