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As a mere infant, the chances of a safe and happy family life for Lynette Gould were torn to shreds when she was sexually violated beyond her comprehension. The once carefree and happy girl found herself suffering repeatedly at the hands of her own wicked father. Years of sexual degradation turned a beautiful girl's world into a cauldron of hate and self-loathing, leading to self-harm and ultimately numerous suicide attempts.After her father was imprisoned for his monstrous acts, Lynette's mother fell into a relationship with what seemed friendly and caring man - just what the family so desperately needed. But, disastrously for Lynette, he had a mind as evil as his predecessor. Taking up where Lynette's natural father left off, he subjected her to even more sexual abuse which lasted for years. Eventually he too was arrested, but committed suicide before he could be convicted - robbing Lynette of a vital sense of closure.The nightmare world of systematic abuse that tore Lynette's world apart never seemed to end; just as it seemed it could get no worse, she was lured into the hideous and shameful lives of a group of people involved in a child se ring, where cold-blooded adults callously took advantage of her crushed body and spirit. She was lost, dignity shredded, her innocence brutalised and her mental wellbeing damaged seemingly beyond rescue.What followed was a chain of care homes and attempted suicides that drove the deeply troubled adolescent to the very edge of madness. Bouts of self-harm left her body with scars which continue to bear silent witness to her incredible torment.But Lynette's life was pulled back from the brink of oblivion by the patient dedication and enduring friendship of a child counsellor, out of which salvation tentatively sprang.Though the almost unimaginable hell endures in her inescapable memories, Lynette is a survivor. Through her great courage she is now able to tell her own shocking story of multiple incest, multiple rapes and of being lured in to a child sex ring. Her story is horrifying and desperately sad and, in her own moving words, she speaks of her battle with the past and of those responsible for the evil which ruined it. But it is also a story with a message of hope.
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About the Author
Lynette Gould was born in 1979 and grew up in Preston. Despite years of awful potentially life-ruining abuse she now has a successful career and lives with her husband and daughter. Stephen Richards has written and co-written a wide range of bestselling books on the subjects of abuse and lost childhoods.
Read an Excerpt
Heart of Darkness
By Lynette Gould, Stephen Richards
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2007 Lynette Gould and Stephen Richards
All rights reserved.
Delivered Unto Evil
Sometimes I wish I had never been born. That's on a bad day. On a good day, I think back to my birth, at home on 14 June 1979. I believe, from what Mum said, I was the only one of her children to be born at home. It wasn't planned; it just happened that way. I was the second child of five children – Brian, Damian, Stephen and Thomas were my brothers.
I was born breach. It seems that I didn't want to enter this crazy, mixed up world. I had stopped breathing and if it hadn't been for my grandma grabbing me, holding me upside down by my feet and smacking me repeatedly, then I would probably have died.
Perhaps this was some sort of omen as to what lay ahead. Should death have won on that occasion then I would never have endured the wickedness of my father and others. I was delivered unto evil.
That near-death experience lies deep within my subconscious. It was traumatic for me and my mother, and both of us could easily have died. Mum and I were taken to the hospital to be checked over, but we were both OK. As I was her second child, our stay in hospital wasn't too long.
The woman who saved my life, Nana Alker, was my dad's mother, my paternal grandmother. She was a very strong-willed woman. You would think a normal grandmother would be proud as punch, having delivered and saved her granddaughter, but I never heard her go on about it, although by the time I was old enough to hear it the story had probably worn a bit thin. She never even told me about it herself; it was Mum who told me what had happened.
I was never breastfed. I think this was because Dad was jealous of the fact that I absorbed all Mum's attention. Dad was very obsessive and I feel that he never wanted Mum to breastfeed me, and she never felt strong enough to defy him. Already, his thoughts were poisoned by my presence. It was as though he saw me as a malevolent being sent to take Mum away from him.
The event that brought to mind the memory of my coming into this world was the birth of my own baby girl, Annastasia Rose, an event that brought light to my deep, dark life of despair. I was 22 and I wanted children of my own. I wanted to be able to change the events that had occurred in my life, to give a child the sort of life and upbringing that I never had. Although ecstatic at the birth of my baby, the memory of my own painfully broken childhood can never be washed away.
The birth of my child was something that came about despite my years of serial abuse and multiple suicide attempts. I know that our bond, the bond between mother and daughter, is truly unbreakable. It will never be washed away, like the link between my mother and me. My dad hurt me, systematically and heartlessly, but I know that I could never hurt my own flesh and blood.
As I go through life, I need to search for some measure of peace, and my little bundle of joy is proof to me that life is worth living. Looking down at my baby, I think: 'How could any adult hurt a child and brutally take advantage of it?' You would have to be a deranged, depraved brute ... surely.
Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing. For a start, my baby was delivered early and by Caesarian section. This means, among other things, that I wasn't able to breastfeed her. The mothering instinct is supposed to kick in when you look down at your new baby, but my love couldn't get past the screaming baby. She was crying all the time. Of course, she was telling me that she was hungry, but I had nothing to give. I was dry; I wasn't lactating.
Because I couldn't feed her, I was very anxious that she wasn't getting any nutrients. I told the midwife: 'Please, she needs something, she really needs something. Can you give me a bottle or anything just to give her, because she is starving?' Hopefully, this was just a new mother's natural anxiety. Apart from that, my baby was quite healthy.
Thinking back to my own childhood, one of my earliest recollections is of how one of my brothers was given a bike with stabilisers fitted to it, and how I fell off it.
Later, we all wanted bikes and, one Christmas, to our surprise, we got them. I can't recall what makes they were or even the colours, but I do recall the thrill of zooming around on my bike faster than I could run. The only problem was, I wanted to ride my bike without the stabilisers on it. I wanted to feel in charge of the bike, to feel released. I didn't want to fall off, like I had before. I asked for the stabilisers to be taken off. It was like throwing away a set of crutches and skipping off.
Or it should have been. My first tentative push on the pedals saw me careering out of control. I zigzagged from side to side like a bee in the wind. Finally, I managed to stay on a straight course and I was free. I remember thinking: 'I've done it.'
I was beginning to grow up. I was enjoying a safe and happy childhood and I had started school just around the corner from home. The place where we lived was in a sort of cul-de-sac. We lived towards the top of the 'arch' and we would walk around it and out of the close to get to school. The funny thing is, although I can recall the shape of the road and what I did there, I can't recall the name of the street. The area I was brought up in is called Haydock, in St Helens, midway between Liverpool and Manchester. We stayed there for a few years, but later on we moved to Preston.CHAPTER 2
My earliest recollections of my Nana, Nana Alker, are of a very authoritative woman. I was still young, but my Nana was strong and would say: 'You will do what I say, now.' She was a great believer in authority and she instilled a sense of fear in me. She was a proud woman, too.
Of course, at that age I wasn't able to grasp the real meaning of fear. All I knew was the feeling of numbness that ran through my body when I was told off in such a stern manner. I can't particularly recall the first instances that led to my Nana chastising me. It just happened. My fear of her was always just there.
This was all a lifetime ago and my Nana was from another era, an era where women had to be strong if they were on their own. Weakness, in Nana's case, was not tolerated. For her, it was all about the stiff upper lip. You never let your guard down. There were no displays of emotion or passionate outbursts from Nana Alker to influence me in my life.
I don't remember many of the normal things that pass between a grandmother and her grandchild. I can't recall her sitting me on her knee and feeding me sweets. I don't think she was into sweets. I do remember her sunflowers though. Nana lived in a house with three bedrooms, alone, I think – I don't remember having a granddad. It was a sprawling house and it had the same proud feeling that Nana had. I don't think it had a garden gate, but there was a large drive. At least, it seemed big at the time, the way things do when you are little. So when I came across an army of giant sunflowers blazing in the sunlight, I let out a sigh of delight at the wondrous sight before me. They looked impressive, gazing down at me with their smiling, dancing faces. I was enthralled that a flower could be so large and yet so welcoming.
I was amazed. I remember looking up and thinking: 'Wow, these are huge.' They were my magic plants. One look at them and they whisked away any feelings of loneliness I had. For as long as I watched these magic plants, I never once saw any of them cry. They enchanted me with their little outstretched arms waving about and their ever-watchful faces. From what I gather, schools now use sunflowers as an aid to stimulate children's imaginations. I can see why. By getting children to write about the plant, it helps them to express themselves. I had my first lesson in self-expression from sunflowers.
As if the sunflowers weren't surprising enough, the squawking and bock-bocking of the chickens were even funnier. I don't know if they were Nana's chickens or not, but I do recall seeing chickens there, freely roaming around. I would spend many a pleasant day watching them, laughing as they got into all sorts of spats with one another, or watching them fight over the grit on the ground which they ate to help digest the food in their stomachs.
Apart from the sunflowers and the chickens, I felt I was somehow on my own. I wasn't in a world of isolation, but I don't remember things like my first day at school. There was nothing memorable about it or many other things for me back then. Just about the only thing I can remember from that time – I was about seven years old – was one day at school when I had a piece of paper with about ten lines on it. We had to do our times tables on it. That is the only landmark I have from those days: my times tables.
Sometimes, the foggy memories clear slightly and I have small recollections: I'll remember walking to school or hearing a teacher reading stories. I can remember listening to a story, and what really comes flooding back to me is my desperately needing the loo; I was too frightened to say anything and I ended up wetting my knickers. That I remember, and the sympathetic teacher telling me: 'It's all right, accidents happen.' I was so frightened. I thought: 'When my dad finds out, I am going to get battered.' The warm trickle of urine running down my leg was quite comforting, especially compared to the thoughts of what could be happening to me at home that ran through my head.
I knew what to expect from Dad. I learned that when my brother put a pair of toy handcuffs on me and said: 'Get out of that.'
I just ripped my arms apart. 'There you go,' I said.
I broke the chain in the middle holding each manacle. Each cuff was still on each wrist, but I had snapped the chain between them. Dad went mental. He took me upstairs and gave me a bollocking. His face was red with anger and he yelled at me: 'How dare you spoil your brother's birthday.' I didn't say anything. It was just normal.
I also received a wallop on the backside from Dad, the first one I can remember. I was just one smack, but I can still remember it. Maybe it set off some sort of power mechanism within him, but these thrashings became more regular. I didn't understand the enormity of it at the time, how evil it was. As it became more regular, the violence became part of the natural order of things.
After smacking me, Dad made me go downstairs and apologise to my brother, who cried and said, 'Just shut up.' I also had to write him a letter of apology for breaking his handcuffs.
This explains the connection I made at school between wetting my knickers and my dad finding out. I was about six years old when this happened.
Mum and Dad had a very volatile marriage. My Dad, Brian, was very bad tempered and took it out on Mum and his children. I don't have a single good memory of Dad. He was rotten. He was very aggressive, but it was something that I had to learn to live with. I came to believe that it was normal. He was so full of hate. He was hate. He hated and detested anybody and everybody. His hatred was constant and relentless; he never let us out of the house or have friends over for tea. We were very much under his control.
When we came home from school he let us sit on the floor with our legs crossed and watch the telly, but we weren't allowed to move or speak. In fact, we weren't allowed to do anything without first seeking permission from Dad. If we wanted to go to the toilet, we had to put our hands up. Once, I forgot to put my hand up and I got the belt. Dad took off his belt and physically swiped me with it on my bare behind. I was held down on the sofa, my skirt pulled up, my knickers pulled down and then the whipping on my bare flesh began. This was well after the handcuff incident; things were becoming worse. The whippings with the belt became more and more common, and the amount of times I was hit increased.
My way of handling this was to shut down and shut off. I would think about somewhere else. I wasn't there, I was somewhere else, so I would detach myself from the whole thing. It wasn't happening to me. Looking back on it, I can see that Dad wasn't just disciplining me; he was getting off on the violence and the power. These punishment beatings flattened my self-esteem because I didn't know what I was doing wrong. How could any of this be child discipline?CHAPTER 3
Memories and Recollections
My mum Sandra's heart is in the right place but she is gullible. She has been dominated all her life, first by her mum and then by her husbands. She's the type of person who needs a man in her life, but someone who will look after her rather than the other way around. The problem is that Mum was attracted to horrible, scruffy buggers – men who looked like they haven't had a bath for weeks. I don't think she would be attracted to a man who was smartly dressed and had a job. She would think that he wouldn't be interested in her. She was drawn to men who wanted low-maintenance women, someone they could just hang around the house with.
If Mum knew me now I like to think that she would be proud of my achievements, of the life I have built for myself. I haven't gone off the rails like my brother Brian. He's turned out just like Mum: he's got nothing – no home of his own, no qualifications, no job. I've managed to rebuild my life and I have ambitions and dreams.
I would love to have some contact with my mum now, but she's so stubborn and won't let bygones be bygones. I'd like her to know about my GCSEs and NVQs, to be proud of these and my other achievements. I've got ambitions that I can't share with her. It's so sad, but I don't think Mum will change now.
Although what I do remember of my early childhood is mostly sad and bad memories, I do recall some good instances. Aunty Dawn – Dad's sister – was quite young and used to be around a lot. She would brush my hair, and played with me and looked after me. I also remember an old man who lived across the road from us. He would sometimes offer us food, like sausages, holding them up in the window to see if we wanted any. He gave us lollypops, too. I think Mum knew he was all right. Nice memories like these are the ones that stand out among the many bad memories that I have.
When I was about four years old I contracted chickenpox. Mum and Dad looked after me. I remember I was downstairs on the settee. I was lying on the settee watching television. Mum and Dad laughed at me and called me 'spotty' and 'snowman' when they put the calamine lotion on me. The boys got chickenpox after me and it was my turn to laugh.
I had red Wellingtons that I liked and I wore them to school when it was raining or snowing, carrying my shoes to change into. I was happy going to school. I remember us all falling over on the slippery pavements. It was like a comedy sketch and we all laughed because it was funny.
I remember singing to Cliff Richard's song 'Living Doll'. I don't remember hearing Mum sing, but she liked Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and country and western music. Once, when I was practising singing for the school choir at home, Mum gave me a compliment. I was singing a song from Oliver! and she said it sounded very good.
Another time, when I was singing a song from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, she stuck up for me when my stepdad made a comment. Mum said I had sung it really well. It was the best compliment she ever gave me. It felt good.
Some not-so-good memories are of when we had a vicious Alsatian. I can't remember its name, but it went for my brother Brian so we had to get rid of it. Before we moved to Preston, we had a lovely timid black dog. She was really lovable and I remember she had pups. I don't know what happened to the pups – I think Dad sold them or drowned them. The dog stayed in Haydock when we moved to Preston. Dad said, 'She's not having the dog as well.' 'She' being my mum.
Excerpted from Heart of Darkness by Lynette Gould, Stephen Richards. Copyright © 2007 Lynette Gould and Stephen Richards. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Delivered Unto Evil,
Chapter 2 Childhood Discipline,
Chapter 3 Memories and Recollections,
Chapter 4 Homely Violence,
Chapter 5 When a Child's Trust is Broken,
Chapter 6 Stolen Innocence,
Chapter 7 A Fate Worse Than Sexual Assault,
Chapter 8 Lightning Can Strike Twice,
Chapter 9 The Poetic Justice of Suicide,
Chapter 10 Lured Into a Child Sex Ring,
Chapter 11 UK Child Sex Rings,
Chapter 12 International Child Sex Rings,
Chapter 13 Self-Harm Never Hurt Anyone,
Chapter 14 Exploring My Sexuality,
Chapter 15 A Last Farewell,
Chapter 16 Suicide is Painless,
Chapter 17 From the West Indies to the Isle of Wight,
Chapter 18 Wedded Bliss – On a Shoestring,