Her rural childhood looked idyllic, but only Grace Sanders, 50, from Minehead, knew the horrifying truth about what really went on...
Whenever I tell people I grew up on a farm, I always get the same response… ‘What a lovely childhood you must have had,’ everyone says.
Inside, I want to scream. If only you knew!
See, all my memories of that time are tainted.
I lived on the farm with my parents, grandparents and mum’s brother Arthur.
Arthur, who was in his late 20s back then, always made a fuss of me.
‘You’ve got to learn the ropes, kid,’ he’d say, showing me how to milk a cow.
One day when I was five years old, I went upstairs into
Uncle Arthur’s room.
Just a kid, I wanted a cuddle, so I tried
climbing onto the bed, but it was too tall.
Arthur scooped me up and placed me on his lap.
Then he started rubbing my thighs and put his rough hands in my knickers. I was too young to know what was really going on. Arthur did it again and again whenever we were alone together. ‘Give your uncle a kiss,’ he’d say, pulling me in for a cuddle. Then he’d touch me when nobody was looking. He started getting braver. One day, Grandad and Arthur went into the
milking barn. It was divided into separate little milking cubicles. While Grandad worked in one, Arthur went into another. And he quickly pulled me in there with him. Out of sight, he touched and groped me and then made me touch him, too. ‘If you tell anyone, you’ll get into big trouble,’ he whispered after.
Grandad was just feet away, but he didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Too scared to say anything, I kept it bottled up.
Years passed, and Arthur used every opportunity he could to abuse me.
Whenever we were alone together in the farmhouse, the milking barn, farm sheds…
The sprawling farm became Arthur’s sick playground. And my torture chamber. Every corner of the farm was another place where Arthur could enact his twisted abuse on me. There truly was no escaping him. Then, when I was nine, me, Mum and Dad moved from the farm into our own place.
But we still visited often to pitch in and help out.
Arthur would use those visits to corner me in the milking barn.
Years passed – and, as I entered my teens, I began learning about sex education at school.
Suddenly I fully understood that
what Arthur was doing was wrong. Very wrong.
But I felt powerless to stop him abusing me.
Under his spell, I believed him when he said I’d get into trouble if I told anyone.
So I kept it to myself and tried to block it out. Painful years passed. One night, when I was 16, I was staying at the farm to help my grandparents out.
I had a sleeping bag on the sofa in the living room of the farmhouse.
I was terrified that Arthur would try to abuse me during the night.
So I positioned myself over the zip of the sleeping bag so that he couldn’t get to it.
But, later that night, Arthur tiptoed in and started feeling around for the zip. He was too strong and
Uncle Arthur ruined my childhood
I was trapped in a nightmare