A woman whose father sexually abused her for 15 years has revealed how police officers said he had likely ‘targeted’ her mother in order to have children with her to abuse.
Emily Victoria, 31, from Dorset, was the subject of A Paedophile In My Family: Surviving Dad, where she spoke about how her father abused her from the age of two until she was 17.
During the film, the businesswoman and mother-of-one described a period when she felt like ‘a zombie’ and said when she was 11-years-old’, she felt as though ‘she was dead.’
She explained how she came to report him to the police after she began suspecting he was hurting other children, saying: ‘I saw one of the foster children comforting him in the way that I felt I had to…That’s how I feel I have to behave. Something snapped in me and changed.’
Appearing on Woman’s Hour days after the documentary aired, she described how a police officer told her mother: ‘[Paedophiles] target people with an open heart, who are lovely and honest and trusting. They do that so they can have children with them so they can abuse them.’
Emily Victoria , 31, from Dorset, was the subject of A Paedophile In My Family: Surviving Dad, where she spoke about how her father abused her from the age of two until she was 17
During the film, the businesswoman and mother-of-one described a period when she felt like ‘a zombie’ and said when she was 11-years-old’, she felt as though ‘she was dead’
Elsewhere she recalled how her mother was ‘in tears on the floor’ after learning what her father had done.
She said: ‘I remember a policemen had come over to my house to go over everything with a fine tooth comb for evidence.
‘My mum [was] in tears on the floor saying: ‘I can’t…how do I carry on? How do I not see this?’
Calling her father ‘manipulative’, she continued: ‘He had an amazing mask, he was employed to be a foster carer so that was just the level of power that he had.’
She compared him to a ‘child being naughty at school’ who had ‘tried to dress up’ what he had done.
She said he had ‘tried to blame it on her’ when caught, telling officers she was a ‘sexual child.’
She said: ‘When I heard that, it knocked me for six. I thought I was going to fall off the chair or run to the loo and be sick.
‘The officers say, “Are you sure you want to hear this?”
‘It was extremely harrowing but the reason is…if I’m asking people to face the truth, I want to be leading that.
‘I want to show, I’m going to do it and if I can do it, you can do it.’
Elsewhere she recalled how her mother was ‘in tears on the floor’ after learning what her father had done
Many viewers were stunned by Emily’s bravery in the programme, with one writing: ‘My gosh, I am in total awe of Emily’s bravery. This is such a harrowing and heartbreaking watch.’
Another said: ‘Watching and listening was utterly heartbreaking. Devastating, in fact.
‘But it was incredibly brave, Emily. Sharing your story was and will be immensely powerful.’
A third added: ‘The kind of bravery shown by Emily in this process is mind-blowing to me.
‘I can only hope to be as strong a person as she is.’
A fourth wrote: ‘Emily, you’re so brave to go back to the dark places that only survivors know.
‘How anyone would want to go through that again for a documentary is selfless and inpsiring. You had me in tears.
‘It was so emotional thanks to you wonderful lady and your poor mum. You’re a hero.’
Another commented: ‘What a brave, amazing woman Emily is.’
Many viewers were stunned by Emily’s bravery in the programme, calling the programme ‘harrowing and heartbreaking’
In the documentary, Emily explains how her father’s abuse began when she was just a toddler, but was invisible to everyone around her – including her mother.
She explains how, on the outside, she, her two brothers, her father and mother, looked like a normal family, with her dad being ‘popular’ with others.
However she says: ‘What people didn’t see, not even my family, was that I was being sexually abused by my dad for the first 18 years of my life.’
She sat down with Tony O’Connell and Helen Deakin as Tony reads out a transcript of her father’s explanation during his police interview in 2009, after Emily reported him to the police.
As the statement labels Emily a ‘sexual kid’ and shirks all blame, the 31-year-old speaks of seeing her father, who has been released from jail after serving 14 years, in a different light.
Meanwhile Tony explains Emily’s father, who had quit his job to become a foster carer when his daughter was eight, had been ‘trying to groom police’ and ‘convince them of his own warped world view.’
As Tony reads out Emily’s father’s statement, he says: ‘”[I was] happily married at the start, never watched kiddie porn, don’t know why it happened.
‘”Emily was a very sexual kid, some kids are. Don’t know if that’s what switched me on. Can’t remember exactly how it started.
“Emily would do stuff to herself, I caught her one day.”‘
He paused, interjecting: ‘So that’s the start of his narrative, he’s not a sex offender or into kiddie porn, it’s about you and what you did to him.’
The abuse began when Emily was just two-years-old and continued until she was a teenager (pictured)
Emily said: ‘It’s so interesting because the earliest memories I have, as a toddler, of him like poking me and everything, why did he think a child behaves a certain way?
‘It’s because you’re teaching them.’
Tony continued reading through the notes, explaining how Emily’s father had recalled the abuse: ‘”[She was] sat on bed, straddled me, started moving on me.
‘”Didn’t stop her immediately. Could feel she was quite turned on I guess.”‘
Tony explained Emily’s father had been ‘trying to groom police’ and ‘convince them of his own warped world view.’
The notes continued: ‘”[I] felt guilty, usual stuff. Feelings came up again, sexually aroused, guilty. It just progressed.
‘He said, “[We had a] brilliant father daughter relationship and [that I] didn’t do anything she didn’t want.”‘
‘”[It was a] very gentle, wrong but a very loving relationship. [I] didn’t have to force her or tell her not to tell.”‘
A clearly stunned Emily asked the officers if they felt her father ‘felt bad’ for what he had done, with Tony responding: ‘There was no part of him that felt bad over what had happened.’
Emily explained: ‘I just feel a bit sick. His narrative that he put there was what he was trying to put on me the whole time. Everything was my fault, even outside of that nonsense.
‘He would say, “No one likes you at school and these are the reasons why.” He was always trying to shift the blame onto me.
‘I’m not shocked that he has done that…it brings up all those feelings when I was a child and blame myself for everything, which I don’t do anymore.
‘I’m trying to make sure that that doesn’t make me go backwards. I’m having an inner battle with myself.’
Tony assured her that they ‘never believed’ what her father told them, saying: ‘When you were talking, it was like, I want to cry and can’t believe this has happened to you.
‘When he’s sitting there talking, it’s…outwardly, “Thank you for talking to us”. But inwardly, you’re going…you cowardly f*****, how could you do this?’
Emily said hearing the notes from the police interview gave her a new perspective on the abuse, adding: ‘I feel sick to my stomach in a way I haven’t felt before.
‘I look at him in a different way, like he’s something disgusting.
‘I always felt like he pled guilty not just because of the evidence but because he felt bad for what he had done.
‘But my dad’s words made it very clear that he didn’t care about me at all. I actually want to know and look him in the eye to see if he has changed at all.’
He was sentenced to 14 years in prison but was recently released. During the programme Emily spoke with a restorative justice specialist, and attempted to meet with her father.
During the film, Emily also grappled with the challenges of her relationship with her mother (pictured)
When Emily was eight, her father quit his job as an estate agent to become a foster parent, while her mother worked long hours – and the abuse remained a secret
At the time, he was a unemployed and living in council accommodation.
However, he turned down her offer to meet and discuss what had happened, leaving Emily devastated.
As she recalls the abuse she suffered, Emily notes how it impacted her life, particularly as she approached adolescence.
Emily told how she felt like ‘a zombie’ at school and recalled how her father would keep her at home in order to abuse her.
Looking through a report from Year 7, she said: ‘This is the year when I felt like I died.’
While he would initially use condoms, Emily was placed on the pill when she was 15-years-old.
She said the abuse continued throughout her teenage years, saying: ‘It was prominent, and I had to replace my thoughts with his thoughts as a way to survive.
‘I had to be happy and smiley to him in those horrible moments to make him OK.
‘That happiness, smiliness was always on my face, everywhere I went, completely masking it.
‘The only thing I could do with myself was excel at school and with swimming. I was always the best and I was always winning everything.’
As the abuse continued into Emily’s teenage years, she said her father began to control more and more of her life
During the film, Emily hears from police reports about how her father said the abuse began when she was a child
She explained that the masking and smiling was what she needed to survive the abuse, but it was also the element that prevented other people from seeing the truth.
A she grew older, her father began to take control over more and more areas of her life, and she wasn’t allowed to see her friends or spend time with children her age.
He would make her feel guilty for leaving him, and she said she would only see her schoolfriends when he was also busy.
She also began to fear her father was abusing other children.
Emily said: ‘I didn’t consider telling anyone anything until I was about 17. I started to suspect he was hurting other children.’
She explained: ‘I saw one of the foster children comforting him in the way that I felt I had to.
‘And in that moment I was like, “Oh my god I think he’s abusing her.” Because that’s how I feel I have to behave. Something snapped in me and changed.’
She explained: ‘[I thought] “Why the hell have I been doing this? I’ve been trying to protect everyone else and putting myself in the line of fire”. Then it was a few weeks later I spoke out.’
Elsewhere in the documentary, Emily confronts her complicated relationship with her mother, who had no idea about the abuse, and tackles feelings of guilt she felt while it was going on.
She says: ‘Imagine if your dad wanted to be with you instead of your mum. Can you imagine what that feels like? And then how horrible it makes you feel?
‘And I just felt sorry for her all the time. I might have resented her as well, so thought, like, “Why weren’t you able to see or whatever?”‘
She explained: ‘I have an inner battle, and I’m having to have an inner battle to be strong.
‘Part of me wants to give into the anger and the darkness. Part of me wants to be like, “F*** everyone, screw my mother and father. I don’t care.”‘
In shocking scenes in the documentary, the officers who first interviewed Emily and her father about the abuse went through the initial reports and her father’s sickening defence of his behaviour
Emily said hearing the notes from the police interview gave her a new perspective on the abuse (pictured, one of the officers)
Emily and her mother sat down to discuss the abuse during the documentary, and how he had been able to hide it from everyone
Meanwhile her mother said it had been ‘really difficult’, explaining: ‘The conversations we have, we probably both manage them a little bit.
‘And because there is so much emotion on both sides, heartbreak screaming emotion, sometimes it’s hard to vocalise or know how to or when to talk through things.’
Meanwhile Emily told the camera: ‘There’s so many layers to my relationship with my mum and it really, really hurts in some ways.
‘I don’t know, I think I feel really guilty as well. It makes me emotional. Because I know that I couldn’t have done anything to stop it – but there’s an element where I feel like I ruined her life.’
She said the abuse continues to have an impact on her life, explaining: ‘Most of the time I still feel anger towards him, but of course there is some level of him that loved me and cared for me.
‘It’s confusing, because he was still my dad 50 per cent of the time. Then 50 per cent of the time, he was a monster.’
Emily’s mother said: ‘There were points where I felt like I had lost her. It’s a constant fear.
‘I’ve said to myself, “If she never wanted to see me again ever then I would honour that because I just want her to be happy and to thrive”.’
They recalled how her father’s manipulation had tried to ‘sever’ the connection between Emily and her mother.
Emily said: ‘I wanted to involve my mother in the documentary but it was a lot more difficult than that.
‘I was scared if I looked at my feelings properly, I might have had to walk away from her.
‘But I don’t want to waste another second carrying guilt or shame or blame. I’ve avoided having this conversation with my mum for my whole life because it’s so painful. The hardest part is just knowing how to start.’
Despite the challenges, the two women sat down to discuss the abuse on camera, with Emily saying: ‘Think back, did you see any changes in him those first few years?’
Emily’s mother explained her father was a ‘dichotomy’, and had ‘two sides’ which were ‘tricky to navigate.’
She said she was often upset throughout Emily’s childhood, because she ‘didn’t have any money to feed’ the family.
She explained: ‘I could remember having to put my hands down the back of the sofa to find money, then he stopped working and stayed at home.
‘I used to have quite a lot of arguments about money. I was still going out working, so that created a gap between you and me. I suddenly felt like I was a little bit of a spare part.’
Emily told her she felt ‘distant’ from her, and that there were ‘walls’ which ‘isolated them from each other.’
Her mother explained: ‘I didn’t ever think that it was anything more than a really strong bond [between you and your father]. I just felt a little bit more and more pushed out.
‘I tried really hard to have a relationship with you.’
By the end of the documentary, Emily said she felt ‘reborn’, adding: ‘It’s released me from any shame I’ve had with it.
‘I always knew my worth but I feel I’ve stepped into my power and I feel I’m never going to take any shit off anyone again.
‘I really hope if anyone can take anything from my experience, they can have the confidence to have these conversations.’