hunted like prey by vi­o­lent rapist

Just 10 when her beloved dad died, carla Pol­lock, 51, didn’t re­alise how much worse things could get

Pick Me Up! - - FRONT PAGE -

Mum’s hands were trem­bling. ‘ Where’s Daddy?’ i whis­pered

Kick­ing my legs as fast as I could, my body felt heavy in the water, a sense of panic grow­ing.

Then I looked up, saw a big fa­mil­iar smile.

‘You can do it!’ my dad Wil­liam called.

And, just like that, I had all the con­fi­dence in the world and was swim­ming into his open arms.

By the time I climbed out of the pool that day, I wasn’t scared of swim­ming any more. Dad was my hero. Made every­thing seem pos­si­ble.

From dif­fi­cult Maths home­work to rid­ing a bike with­out sta­bilis­ers, he helped me with every­thing grow­ing up.

He adored our mum Mar­garet, you could tell that by the way he looked at her. Like she was a Hol­ly­wood star­let.

He grafted long hours as a builder to treat us to sunny hol­i­days in Benidorm or camp­ing trips to Torquay.

‘I love you, Daddy,’ I’d tell him all the time.

‘And I love you,’ he’d re­ply. It was what I said one morn­ing in Jan­uary 1978, as I kissed Dad good­bye be­fore run­ning off to school. I was 10, and that af­ter­noon Dad was hav­ing an op­er­a­tion – just a sim­ple surgery to fix a hia­tus her­nia. ‘I’ll be back by din­ner time,’ he told me.

Only, later that day,

I was called into the head­teacher’s of­fice.

‘Have I done some­thing wrong?’ I whim­pered.

See­ing Mum’s friend in the of­fice, I felt so con­fused.

She drove me home in si­lence as my mind whirred. When we ar­rived home, I no­ticed Mum’s blood­shot eyes.

She sat me down, her hands trem­bling as she stroked my hair.

‘Where’s Daddy?’ I whis­pered.

‘He’s gone,’ Mum replied, voice crack­ing.

He’d passed away af­ter surgery. He was only 30.

In that mo­ment, I felt I’d fallen into a deep, dark crater.

I prayed Mum had got it wrong, that Dad would walk through the door any minute, ask­ing what was for din­ner.

But Dad’s place stayed empty at the ta­ble, a void we could only stare at.

He’d had an un­di­ag­nosed blood dis­or­der – and, af­ter the sup­pos­edly straight­for­ward op­er­a­tion, had bled to death.

I couldn’t stand to think about him in pain.

When­ever I’d had a graze on my knee from fall­ing off my bike, Dad had been there with plas­ters and cud­dles. Now, he’d never be there for us again.

A week later, I walked be­side Dad’s cof­fin as it was car­ried into the church, sur­rounded by hun­dreds of mourn­ers. A month later, it was my 11th birth­day, but a cloud of grief hang­ing over us meant there was no real cel­e­bra­tion. At night, I’d dream he was still with us and wake up to a night­mare. Mum was lost, too. We all were.

Then, a cou­ple of months later, I ar­rived home to see a man sit­ting on the sofa. I recog­nised him from the pub Mum and Dad would some­times take us to. ‘Carla, this is Gra­ham,’ my mum

said. Ex­plained he was a friend.

I felt sick. It hadn’t been long since Dad had died. But I tried to think like a grown-up and un­der­stand her needs.

See­ing Mum with an­other man was tough on me.

Es­pe­cially when, just weeks later, I spot­ted his bags in the hall­way.

‘Gra­ham is mov­ing in with us,’ Mum beamed.

Plas­ter­ing a fake smile on my face, I des­per­ately wanted Mum to be happy ...but not with Gra­ham.

I didn’t like him.

The way he looked at me when Mum’s back was turned made me feel un­easy.

Now he was liv­ing with us, tak­ing up the empty spot where Dad used to sit. He soon marked his ter­ri­tory, al­ways watch­ing what he wanted on TV and or­der­ing us around.

Months later, I woke to hear Gra­ham scream­ing at Mum. ‘You stupid b*tch!’ he yelled. Tip­toe­ing out of my room, I watched through the gaps in the ban­is­ter as he slapped Mum hard across the face.

I winced, see­ing her hold her face in pain and cower. Who is this mon­ster?

Dad would never hurt Mum like this.

We walked on eggshells around Gra­ham, pet­ri­fied of be­ing yelled at – or worse.

Mum tried to cover her black eyes, but she couldn’t con­ceal the hor­ror be­hind them.

‘You need to leave him, Mum, he’s hor­ri­ble to you,’ I’d beg her when Gra­ham was out.

‘Not now, love,’ she said, clearly ter­ri­fied.

Then, within a year of them be­ing to­gether, Gra­ham turned his at­ten­tions to me.

At first, it was just a swift stroke of my bot­tom or a lin­ger­ing kiss on the cheek.

But then I woke up in the early hours to find Gra­ham stand­ing be­side my bed. ‘What do you want?’ I asked. Think­ing he was go­ing to shout at me for not tidy­ing my room, I waited in ter­ror.

Sud­denly, he reached out his arms in si­lence, pushed my face to­wards his crotch. Forc­ing him­self on me.

I felt phys­i­cally sick from sheer dis­gust and fear.

‘Say any­thing to your mum and I’ll kill you,’ he growled.

I lay awake that night, try­ing to piece to­gether the last hour. What did it mean?

I knew what Gra­ham had done was deeply wrong.

Not telling a soul, I kept that night’s hor­ror as my dark­est se­cret, and hoped it was the first and last time.

But I was wrong again. Around once a week, Gra­ham would sneak into my room and climb into my bed.

Then threaten me with con­se­quences if I spoke a word of our sor­did se­cret.

I felt trapped in my home, too pet­ri­fied to breathe a word to any­one.

At school, I re­belled, re­fus­ing to work and be­ing nasty to my peers.

My class­mates seemed happy, with car­ing fa­thers, and it made me miss Dad so much.

School be­came a brief es­cape from the hor­ror. But I knew that, once I was home, Gra­ham would hu­mil­i­ate me again.

‘Take off your school uni­form,’ he’d bark at me.

Piece by piece, he’d un­dress me, licking his lips as he stared at my naked body.

Then he’d sex­u­ally as­sault me yet again.

Shiv­er­ing in fear, my ha­tred and fear of Gra­ham in­ten­si­fied. And still he beat my mum. ‘Tell any­one and I’ll kill you,’ he threat­ened.

I truly be­lieved he would.

I wished Dad was still around, so we would be safe.

Shortly af­ter my 12th birth­day, I hid in the spare room, hop­ing to es­cape Gra­ham.

But when I heard the door open and saw his shadow edg­ing to­wards me, my stom­ach lurched.

I thought it would be the same rou­tine as be­fore. But this time, it was worse. Gra­ham raped me....

i knew what gra­ham had done was deeply wrong

Gra­ham’s bags were in the hall­way…

I was such a happy lit­tle girl. Then every­thing changed...

Aged 10, I lost my pre­cious daddy

gra­ham the Abuser

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