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
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