It’s taken me a long time to be able to talk about this, but I want to tell my story so other people know how this can happen and that you can survive the effects of sexual abuse. My dad left when I was little so it was just me and Mum. My mum worked a lot and when I was about thirteen, this guy started coming around to our house. He seemed really nice and was always helping Mum when the car broke down or something needed fixing. Looking back now it was weird that he spent so much time ‘just popping in’. He wasn’t Mum’s boyfriend or anything, but he acted like he belonged in our house. He started driving me to school if Mum had to go to work early. The first few times he just dropped me off. Then one time, he gave me a hug goodbye. I didn’t think anything of it. The next time he dropped me off, he put his hand on my leg. I was so shocked I just froze. I was too scared to say anything. When I tried to pull the skirt of my uniform down he told me I looked pretty and that I should show him. Then my mum got a different job and she told me that he was going to drive me to school every day. He started turning up early and taking different routes to school. He parked in secluded places and would say, ‘Let’s have fun. It’ll be our little secret.’ I didn’t know what to do. I was really mixed up. I felt sick. I couldn’t concentrate at school and I started getting bad marks. Mum was angry with me. I felt like she wouldn’t believe me if I told her about what he was doing. One morning I felt so bad that I stayed home from school. I didn’t want to see him. There was a knock on the door. He’d come over to ‘look after me’. That’s when he raped me. Two days later I cut my wrist, not badly but Mum had to take me to hospital. The doctors asked me about what was going on at home but I didn’t want to talk about it. They released me and when I got home I went into my bedroom and put furniture against the door and barricaded myself in. Mum was outside the door screaming at me to let her in. She thought I was going to kill myself so she called the police. The policewoman who came asked Mum to leave us alone so that she could talk to me. She was really calm and I felt like I could trust her, so I told her what had been happening. She brought Mum in and told her. Mum got really angry and said I was lying, but the policewoman made her listen. Mum broke down and the policewoman had to get a paramedic to sedate her. The police arrested him and then my auntie came and took me away for a while. I needed space. When I came back, Mum and I saw different counsellors for about a year. It was hard at first, but we get on a lot better now than we did before. It wasn’t my fault it happened. And if it happens to you, it isn’t your fault either. You have to tell someone though. It’s the hardest thing you’ll do but after that you’ll feel like you are free again.