Emily Cartwright, now 19, never dreamt about her wedding when she was growing up. Instead she was praying her dad’s intention of marrying her would not come true and that she would escape his evil clutches…
As I watched my mum put her purse and lipstick in her bag I sat on the sofa and the usual sick feeling started to pulse through me.
I knew that Mum had to start her night shift and wouldn’t be back until the morning.
I wanted to beg her to stay but all I could muster was the usual, chirpy goodbye.
How could I explain to her that I didn’t want to be left alone with him anymore?
As she put on her coat and shut the door behind her I knew that he would be home at any minute and my usual welcome home ritual would have to begin.
As I climbed the stairs to head towards the bathroom to run his bath I wanted to turn back around and run away.
As the water splashed into the basin and mixed with the musky bubble bath the scent took me straight back to the when I was seven.
It was the earliest memory I had of my dad coming home from a hard day at work and asking for a massage.
“Come and give my shoulders a rub Emily – Dad’s really achy after a hard day at work.”
But rubbing his shoulders just wasn’t enough for him.
He took my hand and pushed it on his penis, stimulating himself until he had got his pleasure. He then carried on like normal, as if it was the most natural way in the world to treat your daughter.
I sat there with the musky smell filling my nostrils and I just wished that it would wash away the horrible feeling I had been left with.
Even at seven-years-old I knew that this was not a normal thing for a Dad to make his daughter do.
At school I realised our household was different to other peoples’.
My friends would giggle over which boys they fancied and I would play along, but deep down I knew that I wasn’t allowed boyfriends.
I belonged to my dad and no one else was allowed to touch me.
I would pray that my mum would ask me what was wrong or she would come home early one day and catch him but she never did.
He had successfully ended my close relationship with my mum.
Every night when she was out at work he would make me get out of my bed and get into theirs.
I would lay there stiff and ridged, hoping that if I closed my eyes tight enough I wouldn’t be able to smell his sweaty scent anymore.
“You know that no-one will believe you if you tell them our secret and if you dare to try I will kill all of you,” he’d say.
I was petrified and believed that I had to keep my dad happy to keep my brothers and sisters safe.
That’s what stuck in my mind when he made me go to Spain.
A treat from my loving father and not a prison in the sun.
“I love you Emily and I want us to run away together and for you to be my wife,” he told me.
I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.
As we sat by the pool together he would take my hand like we were a loving, happy couple. He even booked us into the hotel as man and wife so no-one would question us.
That’s when he raped me six times over the space of two days.
I was empty.
I felt like used goods and completely ashamed.
Once we returned home I continued life like a robot- going through the motions.
I barely spoke to my mum any more and the only escape I had was school but even there I barely had any friends and got bullied.
The few friends I did have started to question why my controlling dad would hold my hand in the supermarket and why I was never allowed out.
But I couldn’t tell them why I was 16 and had no life outside of the house.
Then one day something clicked inside me. It was like a light and I suddenly had the power.
He couldn’t control me anymore.
It was a Wednesday night and I was sitting on my bed, cross legged, listening to music through my headphones when suddenly I knew I had to tell someone.
“I had a secret that I need to tell you,” I texted my best friend Sophie*.
I was petrified that she wouldn’t believe me but she did.
When dad came into my room that night I looked him straight in the eye and I firmly told him it was over.
“No one will believe you, you’re a whore and you deserve to die,” he shouted.
He wept for me to run away with him and have his children but I no longer felt sick and helpless – someone believed me and I was sure everyone else would.
I decided that I was taking my life back. My dad fled and I went out with a boy for the evening.
“I have something I have to tell you,” I whispered.
Within a few hours I had told him everything and I made him promise not to tell.
But he did.
As I sat in school two days later my mum texted me to tell me that I had to leave to go to the doctors.
The minute I saw her face, I knew that she knew.
“Emily I have to ask you something…has he touched you?”
Everyone was in a state of shock and mourning. Although the physical abuse had gone the mental abuse was still there.
I started to suffer with an eating disorder and felt like everything was spinning out of control again until he finally went to court in 2008.
My mum bravely sat and watched him get sentenced to four years minimum in prison and an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection.
He finally was out of my life and two years on I couldn’t be happier.
I have a wonderful boyfriend, our own home together and we are now expecting our first baby!
I am no longer ashamed of what my dad did to me and I will make sure that it doesn’t determine the rest of my life.