This is Katie's story...

Katie grew up with violence and although the man responsible is now behind bars, she knows the effects will never leave her.

Tuesday, 9th October 2007, 4:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th October 2007, 9:09 am

Katie’s step-father used tyranny to dominate the family. No-one was allowed to speak when he was watching his favourite TV programme and Katie and her siblings often saw him beat their mum.

“One night I remember neighbours calling the police because of the noise,” recalled Katie, now 21, and building a new life for herself.

“He had mum pinned to the wall. We were all frightened as we watched thinking she might get seriously hurt.

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“We tried to stop him and my brother even attacked him with a screwdriver but was pushed down the stairs.

“My brother got all of us in his bedroom and rammed the bed against the door to protect us but we could hear mum being hurt downstairs.”

As the children got older they would scream and shout for him to stop. Sometimes Katie would be woken by shouts and would put an ear to the ground to make sure her mum was still okay.

Between the ages of six and 16 she was also sexually abused.

She was ‘brainwashed’ to believe what was happening was acceptable and her step-father made her feel sorry for him because he was abused as a child.

She didn’t tell anyone fearing they wouldn’t believe her or her step-dad would hurt her mum.

Katie’s story is typical of the thousands of children suffering abuse either directly or indirectly at the hands of their parents or step-parents.

Katie had trouble focusing on school work and rarely went to school.

Although she was frightened she learnt to be robust and had to grow up quickly.

Eventually the abuse ended when her step-dad moved out. A year later she confided in a teacher and the

NSPCC provided counselling and support.

Her step-father was convicted of sexually abusing Katie and her sister and jailed for 10 years.

Katie gave evidence against him and urges other children to find the strength and speak out.

“Children are known as innocents, but when a child goes through abuse, it has a really big impact on them that stays with them for the rest of their life,” says Katie, who has enrolled on a college course and wants to be a social worker.

“It will never go away completely. Children need to know that speaking out is the right thing to do no matter what anyone tells you.

“Children are the future and if they don't realise that things like this are wrong, the future isn’t going to be a nice place to live.”Factfile

In Sheffield half of the children on the Child Protection Register are from households where there is known to be domestic abuse.

In 90 per cent of cases where there was violence towards mums, children were in the same or next room.

At least two women are killed every week on average in England and Wales by their male partner or ex partner.

Around 2,500 women received direct or telephone support from Sheffield's eight domestic abuse projects last year.

Last year 173 women aged over 18 and 242 children were accommodated by the four Sheffield refuges.