Helen Holland says she was first abused by a nun and then raped by the priest to whom she turned for help
A former resident at a Catholic-run orphanage has told an inquiry she was raped by a priest after confiding in him about being abused by a nun.
Helen Holland, 59, has waived her right to anonymity to describe years of ‘sadistic’ treatment at the Nazareth House home in Kilmarnock during the 1960s and 1970s.
She said the abuse began when she was just eight years old as she addressed the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry today.
Ms Holland claimed the nun had told her the ‘the devil was inside’ her and assaulted her with a hand brush.
‘She took me into her cell and told me to take my clothes off,’ she said. ‘She took the hand brush … and asked if I could feel the devil. That was the start.’
Ms Holland said she told a priest in confession what had happened and that she ‘had to get the devil out’.
The inquiry heard he then ‘marched’ her back to the orphanage, describing her as the ‘most wicked child he had ever met’. Ms Holland said the nun joined them and they went into a room.
‘He told her what I’d said,’ she said. ‘They looked at each other, the way people do when they have got an understanding but without language.
Helen Holland is pictured, right, during her time at the orphanage, where she claims she was raped by several men and abused by a nun
‘I ended up over what looks like a boardroom table with (the priest) raping me.
‘She was holding my hands across the table. I was told I was a brazen hussy and I must learn to keep my mouth shut.’
The witness was sexually abused over a four-year period and that she was raped by several men, the inquiry heard.
The 59-year-old says she was abused while resident at Nazareth House in the 1960s and 1970s, when the orphanage was in this building
She said she knew at least one of them was a priest. The nun was accused of viciously attacking children – punching, kicking and using a bamboo cane known as a ‘switch’ because of the noise it made.
The inquiry heard she reported the hand brush attack to social services when she was a child, but nothing was done.
As an adult, she said she went to the procurator fiscal but was told the case would not be pursued because the nun was ‘too old and too infirm’, which the witness said she had challenged.
Ms Holland – pictured with her therapy dogs Pippa and Willow outside the inquiry – has claimed she was abused and raped at Nazareth House
Ms Holland is now chairwoman of In-Care Abuse Survivors group, which campaigns for justice for those affected by such issues.
The witness, who took her therapy dogs Pippa and Willow with her to the inquiry, called for the care system to be ‘stripped back’ and for the Scottish Government to take note of the inquiry’s advice.
The inquiry before Lady Smith in Edinburgh continues tomorrow.