A woman has won a six-figure sum at the High Court over the physical and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather as a child.
The victim, now in her 40s, was awarded damages and interest totalling £470,000 for abuse perpetrated by her stepfather (the defendant) in the 1970s when she was aged between seven and 12.
Finding the stepfather liable, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said: ‘I am satisfied that the claimant has made out her case as to the physical and sexual abuse which she suffered over a period of five years for which the defendant alone was responsible.’
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was awarded damages of £359,640, together with interest, making a total award of £470,034.90.
Included in the award was £70,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, sums for past and future loss of earnings, and £26,742 for future treatment.
After the ruling, the woman’s lawyers said that the abuse has had a ‘devastating’ effect on her life, leading to her being suicidal, severely depressed, a regular self-harmer and unable to hold down a job or commit to a long-term relationship.
Referred to as ‘Claire’ in the statement - which is not her real name – the claimant said her stepfather ‘ruined’ her life, adding: ‘What he did has haunted me for the last 30 years and it has never become any easier to accept.
‘I seem to have spent most of my life waiting for a final conclusion so I can finally start to rebuild my life. It started with physical abuse soon after he and my mum married. He beat me and smothered my food in black pepper.
‘Then it turned sexual. My mum worked shifts so my stepfather was regularly left to care for me. I knew what he was doing was wrong but I was too scared to tell anyone. He told me I would end up in a children's home if I did.
‘I left school with barely any qualifications because I couldn't concentrate and I've struggled to keep jobs because of my psychiatric illness. I have regularly tried to end my life because I just couldn't see the point anymore.’
She said the damages meant she can now ‘get help from the best support and psychiatric services and I hope I can finally start to move on with my life’.