When Emma Burt, 19, from Newtown, Powys, went to live with her dad, she hoped they'd forge a close father/daughter bond. Only, he had other ideas. Perverted, sick ones, and he'd sink to the cruellest means to get what he wanted.
‘Fine, I’ll move out!’ I shrieked.
It was December 2012, I was 15, and having yet another screaming row with my mum. If I’m honest, I was completely off the rails. Worried about how it was affecting my two younger sisters, Mum had given me an ultimatum.
‘Behave, or live somewhere else,’ she said.
It was only a threat in the heat of the moment, but in a fit of teenage rebellion, I packed my bags. Only, I had nowhere to go. My dad Christopher had nowhere to live, either. He and Mum had always had a rocky, on-off relationship, and he’d drifted in and out of my life. It’d recently ended for good. So, Social Services put me and Dad up in a B&B, before moving us into a flat.
It was strange – I still resented him for not being a good father.
Maybe he’ll change now, I thought.
After we’d lived together a month, he cosied up to me one evening.
‘I want us to be closer,’ he said. Weird, I thought. He’d never bothered before. He’d send me texts, too.
I care about you.
Creepy – but I was happy he finally cared. Then one day Dad offered me a cannabis joint.
Brilliant, I thought, taking a drag. Being a rebellions teenager, I’d tried it before and thought Dad was cool.
We’d get stoned together. Only Dad would become really touchy-feely, petting me over my clothes. I felt uncomfortable, but blamed the drugs, tried to ignore it. Only he started waking me up in the night, hands probing inside my knickers, touching me intimately.
What’s happening? I panicked, mind swirling from the cannabis. I desperately wanted to stop him, to speak out. But then everyone I knew thought I was trouble.
They won’t believe me, I worried.
By spring 2013, we were living in a council house, and one night, Dad offered me other drugs. Amphetamines.
‘You do it like this,’ Dad smiled, showing me. I’d never tried it and was nervous, but intrigued. So I took it.
I felt spaced out, numb. It was the escape I needed from Dad’s night time abuse. Before long, Dad was encouraging me to take cocaine, too. Vulnerable and naive, I followed his lead. In no time, Dad had me hooked on class A and B drugs. Then, one night, he crept into my bed and raped me.
I froze, terrified, agony ripping through me as he pinned me down. After, I cried silently. But I had nowhere to go, was scared, helpless. Dad had groomed me, pushed me into drug addiction. After, it was easy for him to keep me in such a state where I didn’t understand what was going on. The more drugs I did, the more he could abuse me. And the more he did, the more drugs I guzzled to numb the pain.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle. We’d go days without sleeping, lost in drug binges.
‘Let’s go out,’ Dad would say, driving us into the countryside, away from people. Anything to isolate me, keep me distracted. We’d spend hours, sometimes until 7am, taking drugs in the middle of nowhere. Dad would sexually assault me in the car. Take indecent photos of me on his phone.
I was so out of it, I didn’t know what he was doing as he posed me in degrading positions. Snapped pictures for his sick, twisted pleasure. Despicable.
Weeks, months passed in a haze. Sometimes Dad would tell me I was worthless, that no-one would want me. But then he’d buy me a bunch of flowers.
‘For you,’ he’d smile, calling me his ‘wife’. Sick. All ways to control me. I rarely saw Mum, but she suspected I was taking drugs.
‘You need help,’ she’d beg, horrified. But I hid the terrible truth, refused her help. Several times, the drug daze wore off long enough for me to confront Dad.
‘It’s not right,’ I’d sob. He’d just cry.
‘I don’t understand why I do it,’ he’d weep. I tried to leave, but all I wanted was drugs, and only one person could provide them…
Trapped by addiction
After 18 months, aged 17, I was so damaged by the drugs and degrading sexual abuse I had a psychotic breakdown. All I remember was standing on a 40ft bridge, hearing Dad’s voice in my head.
You’re worthless, it sneered. Next thing I knew I was in an ambulance. Paramedics told me I’d jumped, been fished out of the river…
Luckily, I escaped with just cuts and bruises. After, I moved in with Mum. But, within a week, I was so desperate for a hit, I jumped out of her living-room window to find Dad for some drugs. Police found me, and I was admitted to a mental- health hospital for several days.
Mum was torn, but couldn’t risk having an addict in her house. So I was found a bed in a hostel, and Mum asked an old family friend to watch out for me. I felt dirty, ashamed, but he’d talk to me, help me cope. And as the drugs fog lifted, I started thinking straight. Realised I wasn’t to blame – Dad was the monster.
‘My dad should rot…’
‘What happened at your Dad’s?’ our family friend asked in March last year. Everything spilled out.
‘He raped me,’ I wept. Everyone suspected Dad had given me the drugs, but they didn’t expect this. Shocked, our friend took me to Mum’s.
‘I knew something wasn’t right,’ she said, hugging me.
‘It’s not your fault,’ I sobbed. She called the police and I gave a statement. Mum kept it together in front of me, but I knew she’d broken down after.
‘They’ve arrested your dad,’ she told me the next day, her eyes red-raw. And police had found the indecent photos he’d taken of me. Horrific.
Dad was charged and released on bail, awaiting trial – and banned from contacting me. Meanwhile, I spent the following year fighting my addiction. It was tough. I suffered post traumatic stress disorder, which triggered several relapses. But, by January this year, I was clean.
Soon after, Dad – Christopher Wayne Edwards, 40 – pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a child family member, possessing an indecent photograph of a child, three counts of taking indecent photos of a child, supplying me with class A and B drugs, attempting to supply class B drugs and rape.
In April 2016, he was jailed for 12 years and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life at Mold Crown Court. Finally, I could move on. Now Mum and I are closer than ever, and I’m about to have a baby boy.
I’m not with my baby’s dad, so I’ll be a single mum, but that’s OK. It’s my new beginning. As for Dad, he abused me in the most disgusting, degrading way possible.
He deserves to rot.
Jailing Edwards, Judge Niclas Parry told him, ‘She became utterly reliant upon your drugs. You used drugs to facilitate the offences and took the most appalling images of her.’
If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse, contact Victim Support on 0808 168 9111, or go to www.victimsupport.org.uk
For help with drug abuse, find your local drug treatment services at www.talktofrank.com, or call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600.