Shame. Vulnerability. Lonely despair. These are the debilitating emotions victims of incest are forced to suffer; often in silence.
Well, no more. My name is Joy Terris, and I have launched this website with my niece Helena Walsh so that victims of sexual abuse, and incest in particular, have a place where they can go to feel a sense of comfort and understanding.
Helena, now 52, was abused for five years by her father – my sister’s husband – from the age of 10. To learn of this when Helena was 25; as a devoted mum-of-four, I was so horrified that I didn’t have the knowledge to have been able to help her.
As a result, I ended up walking around in a shadow of guilt, similar to that which Helena was in herself. It wasn’t our crime – we were simply victims of an awful situation – but by feeling obliged to keep quiet, we were being imprisoned by her dad’s offending.
Eventually I had the courage to tell Helena, who is now married with three children of her own, that she must speak up and expose her father, Kevin McAllister. With him locked away for three years and 10 months for three charges of rape and others of indecent assault, a part of her burden has been lifted, and she credits me for helping her to have the strength to achieve this.
This site should be your first stop if you need support or are seeking some legal advice on your own situation. It will also connect you with others who may have a similar story to you. You are not alone – and if we all have the bravado to speak about the injustices we have endured, we can take our lives back and potentially protect future generations against offenders.
The Aunty Joy Foundation website will link you to a collection of ‘Aunty’-type figures – who you can trust and confide in with no fear of judgement. Everybody needs an Aunty Joy to make them feel understood and safe, and that’s what this network can do for you.