A sex abuse victim has waived her anonymity to describe the attacks by her evil step dad who has now been jailed – and how her own mother still doesn’t believe her.
Traumatised Jemma Sanders, 28, was sexually abused by sick Christopher Gibson from the age of nine until she was almost 16.
Gibson was convicted of ten charges of indecent assault earlier this month and jailed for eight years but Jemma’s estranged mum Debbie refuses to accept his guilt.
She is still standing by her husband while Jemma has waived her anonymity to tell her harrowing story in the hope it may encourage other victims to speak out.
Jemma said: “I know now that he touched me inappropriately but at the time I didn’t know it was wrong. He was my dad and I just felt loved.
“I remember thinking, ‘my daddy thinks that I’m my mummy’. Every time it happened from then on I thought it was normal.
“As I was getting older the abuse was changing and the touching was getting more serious.
“We had sex education in school and that was when I began to realise it was wrong.
“He’d always told me it was ‘our little secret’ and he wasn’t violent so when I was young I’d never known it was wrong.”
Gibson, 49, came into Jemma’s life when she was just a year old and her mother and real father split up.
The whole family moved to Withywood, Bristol where Jemma remembers an uneventful early childhood.
She always thought of Gibson as her dad and enjoyed the love and attention he showed her and her brothers.
But he started abusing her from the age of nine and it continued for six harrowing years.
Jemma admits she went off the rails in her teens and became a “wild child”, staying out until all hours, drinking and stealing cigarettes.
At one party she got drunk and told a friend what her stepdad had been doing.
In 2003, aged 17, Jemma finally made the decision to tell her mum what had happened to her – but she has always refused to believe her.
Jemma recalled: “I felt it was time I told my mum what had happened.
“I said ‘mum, I’ve got something to tell you,’ she said ‘are you pregnant?’ but I remember saying ‘no, it’s worse than that, you’d better sit down’.
“I told her what had happened and straight away she went off on one, calling me all the names under the sun, she didn’t believe me at all.
“I went to my nan’s house and, although she believed me, she persuaded me not to press charges – she said it would destroy the family and be the worse thing I ever did.”
It wasn’t until November 2012 that Jemma was approached by a police after Gibson’s name was mentioned during another court case.
A detective pursuaded her to speak out and Gibson was arrested and charged with 11 counts of indecent assault and two charges of indecency with a child.
Gibson denied the charges but was found guilty on ten counts at Bristol Crown Court earlier this month.
Jemma added: “When he was found guilty I was in complete shock. After ten years of people not believing me I was shocked that someone finally had.
“My mum refused to hear my victim impact statement when he was sentenced and has never given me a proper chance to tell my side.
“It was the abuse that has destroyed our family, not me, and I want my mum to know that.
“I still suffer with depression and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. I’m upset at what this has done to my family but I know now that it’s not my fault. I was a child and he was supposed to be my dad.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.”
Detective Constable Kerina Balchin said: “The victim in this case has been extremely brave to waive her legal right to anonymity in order for her voice to be heard.
“I hope this conviction will encourage victims of abuse to come forward in the knowledge that they will be heard and supported by the criminal justice system and that every effort will be made to secure justice for them.”