August 2017

Rape victim’s harrowing story of how she was groomed by mum’s partner at 13

She used to sit on his knee as he helped her with her homework before lavishing attention on her.

But things took a dark turn for Kim, after she was repeatedly raped at just 13-years-old by a man who used to shower her with gifts.

Bravely waiving her anonymity, Kim tells of the sickening abuse committed by paedophile Robert Stuart McClelland.

Kim was groomed by her mum’s partner before he sexually assaulted her – even scratching the date of his first attack onto a bottle as a sick memento.

Kim says no one helped her until she took matters into her own hands and escaped.

She has now fought back, becoming a human rights lawyer and setting up a group for survivors of sexual assault.

But as a warning to others, this is her harrowing story…

Now 29, Kim’s parents broke up when she was just 10 and she and her mum moved away from the old family home.

Then her mum met McClelland – who is now aged 57 – online, who showered Kim with gifts.

“He used to offer to help me with my homework, and I would sit on his lap and he’d explain the homework to me,”

It also became a struggle to see Kim’s father after moving away, and she said they did not have a close relationship.

“The attention I got [from McClelland], I thought was incredible. He would encourage me not to see or speak to my dad at all. That relationship fell away completely.

“One day, my mum said she couldn’t cope with me and told me to go and stay with him [McClelland] for a while.”

The then 13-year-old was plied with alcohol, with McClelland offering her more whenever she finished her drink. Having never had alcohol before, it quickly hit her, and she said she wanted to go to bed.

“I remember saying I wanted to go to bed, and I was quite frightened. He was trying to kiss and touch me, and I moved to sleep in a bedroom.”

The house was empty at that time, and when she tried to get away from him, he grabbed her and forced her into his bedroom and had sex with her for the first time.

He then scratched the date of the attack onto a bottle as a sick memento.

Kim, from Bristol, said: “Even though he was so cruel to me, I completely depended on him. He would buy me gifts. He bought me a CD – I remember they were quite expensive – and so it was a really huge present for me.

“It just carried on. Sometimes he would drive up to the school and take me out of lessons.

“No-one batted an eyelid. He told me he was completely in love with me – protecting me from bullies in school.”

The abuse continued, and McClelland carried on sleeping with Kim.

When she was about 14, Kim started getting pains in her stomach.

“I was very slim, stressed, and didn’t have my period. I went to the doctor’s one day because the pains were getting bad.”

It turned out Kim was three months pregnant. She told her mum – a children’s nurse – but Kim claims she could only express her disappointment.

Kim then had a surgical abortion, and a nurse at a private clinic told her she had sexually transmitted diseases. Still no-one asked any questions.

She soon got in touch with a family friend, and they started texting each other.

Kim snuck out of the house in the middle of the night, and she was whisked away by the friend. It would prove to be the start of her escape.

“The reason I decided to tell someone was because when I got pregnant, his attitude towards me completely changed,” Kim said. “He told me I had to get rid of the baby, and told me he didn’t love me.”

The family friend encouraged Kim to open up and they eventually went to the police.

She was only 15 years old.

McClelland was eventually arrested by police and brought before a jury for trial, after he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The prosecution said he had touched Kim on several occasions, including her breasts, and forced her to touch him.

They also said he had regular intercourse with the young girl, leading to her getting pregnant.

Kim gave her evidence via video link, and officers found the alcohol bottle McClelland had scratched the date into when he first attacked her.

They had also found the CDs and various text messages between the two of them.

A month before her 16th birthday he was finally sentenced.

McClelland, of Oswestry in Shropshire, was given a six-year prison sentence for indecent assault, sexual intercourse with a girl aged under 16.

He was also put on the sex offenders register.

For Kim, there was little closure at the end of the court case. Her STDs were treated, and she had scars to her private parts, but the mental wounds from the abuse and trial cut deep.

She went into foster care, and had her first suicide attempt when she was 17 years old.

As soon as she was old enough, she started travelling around the world, hoping to get away from the pain.

But it followed her and, when she was 24, she suffered her first breakdown. She started self-harming again and suffered from suicidal thoughts just as she started getting together with a boyfriend.

or Kim, recovery and fighting back is a daily occurrence.

“I think it’s common for many people who have gone through abuse to self-harm,” she said. “I felt like I was really bad and I wanted to cut that out of me. I had so many emotions, and I really hated myself. It was terrible, it was awful.”

When she was 18, she started studying law at Nottingham University.

“I wanted to be a criminal prosecutor, because of my experience,” said Kim. “But I realised that it was not for me, and I ended up becoming a human rights lawyer instead. I knew that I still wanted to work with people.”

Kim moved to Australia, working as a human rights lawyer and hoping to start a new life. But then she suffered a relapse and tried to take her own life. She decided to move back to Bristol to be close to friends.

But after meeting with doctors, counsellors and various charities in the area, the shortest waiting list for professional support was seven months.

And while Kim said all the counsellors she met were kind and wanted to help, they were limited by their availability. Seven months is a long time, and she couldn’t wait that long.

“There were no support groups that I could find in Bristol, and I would phone counsellors and providers I could think of, but no one knew of any groups,” Kim said.

“With waiting lists that long, I thought to myself ‘I can’t be the only person feeling like this’. I decided to set up my own group and to see if anyone else was in that position.”

She decided to set up a new group three weeks ago for survivors of sexual assault – and the requests to join started flooding in from around Bristol.

More than 60 women and men have come forward so far.

“Feeling you are the only one going through something like that is so isolating,” said Kim. “You feel very low, and when I met other people, I didn’t see them as damaged or broken, in the way I saw myself. They were incredibly brave and inspiring.

“For the first time, I didn’t feel alone and thought, for a moment, that maybe I am brave too.”

To get in touch with the support group Kim founded, visit the Survivors of Abuse and Sexual Violence Bristol page .

 

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