Natasha Fennemore, 24, from Mickleover, Derbyshire, was singled out and sexually abused for 11 years – by her own father. Finally, aged 18, she confided in her mum. But it was only once her dad had been arrested for Natasha's rape that she made a shocking discovery...
Singled out, confused, afraid.
That’s how I felt every night when Daddy crept into my room, covered my face with a pillow. Then put his hands inside my knickers. He’d spoil me with extra pocket money and junk food to keep me quiet.
‘You’re special,’ he’d whisper. But I wasn’t sure. If he loves me, why does he hurt me? I’d puzzle.
It started when I was 7. Dad’s chubby hands roved over my tiny body. Soon his fingers probed, prodding painfully beneath my underwear. He’d make me masturbate him, too. He’d tell me if I was doing something wrong, or going too slow.
‘Remember for next time,’ he’d leer. By the time I was 10, sexual abuse was as normal as waking up. I didn’t know anything about sex, so I never told a soul. Besides, when he wasn’t abusing me, Dad acted like my best mate. I thought he loved me more than my siblings. Once, he let me skive school, snuck me into a theme park.
‘Why do you treat me differently?’ I asked.
‘Because you’re the oldest,’ he smiled.
My world was so confusing. To cope, I separated the monster that did unspeakable things from my dad, the hero. But I started to feel ashamed, self-conscious. I stopped wearing girly dresses, covering up in big, baggy, masculine clothes.
By 14, I’d begun to suspect what Dad was doing wasn’t right. So, one day, I shut myself in my bedroom, went on my laptop.
Dad makes me touch him, I nervously typed into a search engine. A word popped up I’d never seen before. Paedophile.
Horror, revulsion built up inside me as I learned about sexual abuse. I read other victims’ stories, too. How they were groomed, then abused in secret.
That’s what Dad does, I realised. My dad was a paedophile.
Sick to my stomach, I sat, sobbing – then, plucking up all my courage, confronted Dad.
‘I’ll tell everyone what you are,’ I said, trembling. Dad’s face contorted with rage.
‘No-one will believe you,’ he snarled. ‘Your mum will hate you.’
It was the first time he’d used threats. My heart plummeted. What if he’s right? He’d scared me into silence. The abuse got worse after that – Dad knew he could get away with it, didn’t bother pretending to be nice.
All too much
He’d rape me by forcing me to give him oral sex. I started self-harming, learned to go numb. But when I was 18, it all got too much, so I confided in a tutor, who contacted Mum and the police.
When I saw Mum, a light in her eyes had gone out. In shock, she confronted Dad.
‘She’s lying,’ he said.
‘Get out my house,’ Mum roared back. Thankfully, he did. But I was broken. I decided I couldn’t cope with a court case or causing my family more pain, so Dad wasn’t charged.
Only, three years on, we heard he’d got a new partner…Who had a 3-year-old daughter.
I was scared. There was absolutely no suggestion he’d touched the little girl, but I couldn’t live with myself if Dad hurt anyone else. So I went to the police. They investigated and, to my horror, two more victims came forward – not related to my family. Dad was arrested, quizzed. That’s when Mum admitted Dad wasn’t my real father.
‘I’m sorry we lied,’ she wept. My biological father hadn’t stuck around, so when Mum met Steve, he’d taken me, then 4, on as his own – and they’d vowed I’d never find out. Everything made sense. Why he’d targeted me and not my sisters, treated me differently.
I didn’t blame Mum – she’d thought she was doing the right thing, giving me a loving dad.
This February, Steven Green, 45, appeared at Derby Crown Court charged with 23 sex offences, including three rapes. And the majority of the charges, spanning 11 years, were against me.
I gave evidence, faced him in court. Then the jury heard how Dad had also taken advantage of a vulnerable girl aged 15 and abused another at 13 and 14. I wept with relief as he was convicted of all charges and jailed for 23 years.
Being abused changes you, scars you forever mentally. But I never stopped fighting, and my family has been unwavering in their support. Now I’m married, with the most wonderful, understanding wife. And, while Green rots, I’m picking up the pieces. But I want other victims to speak out, get help. You’re not alone.
Let’s make these monsters pay for their crimes.
Following the sentencing, investigating officer Detective Constable Dan Burns said, ‘The victims have shown great resolve. It has resulted in a substantial sentence for a man who the judge described as dangerous, and we hope this will give some comfort and closure to the victims, who were very young girls when the offences were committed.’