Brave child sexual abuse survivor from Rugby area hopes her story will inspire more to come forward

Her abuser was jailed for six years

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 5:51 pm
This is a stock image. It is not a photograph of the abuse survivor.
This is a stock image. It is not a photograph of the abuse survivor.

A brave child sexual abuse survivor from the Rugby area has spoken of the mental health impact of the crimes she was subjected to – and the sense of a weight lifting from her shoulders when her abuser was jailed.

The woman had been subjected to child sexual abuse almost 20 years ago, but the trauma of the abuse, and the fear that she would not be believed, had stopped her from reporting it.

But carrying such trauma for years had a catastrophic effect on her mental health – and 16 years on, she decided she had to report her abuser to the police.

She told the Advertiser: “In 2018 I had quite a big mental health breakdown from keeping it a secret for 16 years.

“I woke up one morning and I just didn’t know who I was anymore.”

Her biggest fear, and something that had prevented her from coming forward for so many years, was the fear of not being believed or taken seriously.

She said: “John [the abuser] was very good at sowing seeds of doubt in people.

“He would tell people I was a liar and a drama queen and I started to think that about myself.

“But I knew I couldn’t risk this happening again.”

She then made the decision to report the abuse to the police.

She said: “I didn’t want to call 999 as I’m very cautious about only using it for ‘right now’ emergencies, so I called their office number and I think that same day they sent out two officers to take an initial statement.

“They were absolutely amazing. From the start the thing that was always in my head was the fear of not being believed, but the police made me feel secure and comfortable.”

The police immediately ensured she had support in place, something she said she is incredibly grateful for.

Just days later John Lawson of Thomas Way in Long Lawford was arrested – and in a police interview he confessed to most of the crimes.

And in March this year he appeared before magistrates, charged with four counts of indecent assault on a young girl and four counts of sexual activity with a young girl.

Lawson was subsequently convicted and sentenced to six years in prison as well as being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for the rest of his life.

“There was an overwhelming sense of a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders when he was sentenced,” the survivor of Lawson’s abuse explained.

“It’s been a really difficult process, but the hardest thing to do was to pick up the phone and make that first call to the police.

“I can now start to move on and I’m not afraid anymore.

“If anyone reading this has been abused but hasn’t reported it I would urge them to do it. You don’t have to do this alone, the police will take you seriously and they will make sure you’re supported.

“If just one person makes that phone call after reading this story it would make this worth it.”

Warwickshire Police has previously urged survivors of historic abuse to come forward, and those wishing to do so can report it online, over the phone or in person at a police station.

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

Learn more about how to report abuse by visiting www.warwickshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/how-to-report-rape-and-sexual-assault