Chelsea's story

The abuse started when I was three-years-old. I remember the first time my uncle did it.

We were sitting in the living room and I was playing with my Teletubbies. There was a Spice Girls song on the telly. He moved towards me and did stuff. To this day I hate that song. I can’t listen to it.

My uncle sexually abused me for five years. He was abusing my big sister Iona too but I didn’t know this at the time.

Chelsea croppedI had tried to tell my mum about the abuse but was always told to stop lying and go away. After that my uncle started to leave me notes saying if I told anyone he’d kill me. If I looked like I was going to say anything he’d just nod towards the kitchen table where the note was or say there was a message for me. It would be on a scrap of paper, his scrawled writing saying I’d be dead if I said anything. I was too scared to tell anyone else.

As well as Iona I had two younger brothers. My dad worked abroad and had split up from my mum. He wanted to see us, and when he came back he’d try and find us but mum moved us around all the time. We lived all over the country, in seaside towns, in cities, wherever. Nowhere was ‘home’.

We didn’t go to school. We were hit, left to find and cook our own food, we lived in a dirty home and weren’t taught how to clean ourselves. We moved around that much that no one every really noticed. I do remember one day someone came from the school to see why we hadn’t turned up. They could see us through the glass front door and I could see the woman’s curly blonde hair and the outline of her shape. But mum told us to hide and not answer.


One night when I was eight my uncle was supposed to be babysitting us but left us alone in his house to go out with his friends. We were terrified, sitting there in the dark. The next day, when I was at a friend’s house, we were sitting eating lunch at their kitchen table. Her mum asked what had happened and I told her about being left alone. She asked more questions and eventually I told them what else he’d been doing. Iona said he’d been doing the same to her. It was the first time I knew that he’d been abusing us both.

My friend’s mum called the police and they came and took statements. We sat at the same table we’d had lunch hours earlier and me and Iona had to write down what we’d said about our uncle. The case went to court. My uncle was convicted and sentenced to two years and put on the sex offender’s list.

A new home

Social work got involved with us and around the same time my dad eventually, after five years, managed to get custody of us. That same year we moved to live with our dad and his fiancée Lucy, who I now regard as my mum.

We were referred to Children 1st as a family, then I started to attend by myself once a week. I had my own worker. I was given the chance to talk to her about how I felt and about what had happened. There were fun activities provided to make talking about it easier. We painted pictures – I remember doing one of myself in school uniform. Half of it was all cloudy and dark with lightning in the background and the other was much happier and sunnier. Life before and after I suppose.

We used word cards to talk about my emotions. By the time I was 11 Children 1st had boosted my confidence and helped me understand and cope with what my real mum and uncle had done to me.

"I'm so much happier now"

I’m now 18 and in full time education. I’ve no contact with my real mum and see Lucy as my role model. I am really close to my dad and I am so much happier now I’m away from the abuse and neglect I used to face. I hope to become a counsellor one day, that’s what I’m studying. I’d love to help someone the way Children 1st has helped me. It helped me get over the trauma of what’s happened and move on from it.

I hope that people read my story and get a better idea of how important Children 1st was for me. They are still doing that work with so many other children today. I hope people donate, or volunteer or just even understand a bit better how sexual abuse affects people, and how everyone can do something to help.

Your donation can help us work with more vulnerable children and young people like Chelsea.

  • £10 could pay for art materials used in one-to-one abuse and trauma recovery sessions.
  • £15 could pay for half an hour of call taking from ParentLine Scotland.
  • £25 could pay for a therapeutic support session for a child who has experienced abuse and trauma to help them recover and move on.


*names and identifying details have been changed to protect identity.

**Image posed by models**