Grandad's little helpers

I just wanted to be special. Instead, I was betrayed...

Published by: Amy Thompson, Jai Breitnaur and Kerry Harvey
Published on: 5th March 2010

Skipping along Blackpool seafront, I couldn’t have been happier. I loved these days out with my gran and her boyfriend Ronald Adamson – Granddad Jimmy we called him.
‘Can I have some candy floss?’ I grinned.
‘Of course, pet,’ Granddad Jimmy smiled. My cousin Hazel, a year older than me, lagged behind.
‘Want to share?’ I asked her. She shook her head and looked away.
Funny devil!
Me, Mum, Dad and my little sister Leanne lived with Gran and Granddad Jimmy, yet Hazel was Granddad’s favourite. Whenever she and Auntie Diane were over, Granddad spent all his time with Hazel – it wasn’t fair.
‘Hazel, help me run an errand’, or ‘Hazel, come and keep me company in the garage,’ he’d say.
I was so jealous!
‘I’ll come,’ I’d smile, desperate to be picked, but Granddad always shook his head. ‘Another time,’ he’d say with a wink.
Funny though, after that trip to Blackpool, I didn’t see Hazel again. Now I could be Granddad’s favourite. He spent more and more time with me and, on my 12th birthday, he was there with a Kodak fun camera as I blew out my candles. Then, weeks later…
‘I’ve got to run an errand,’ he smiled. ‘Want to come?’
Did I?!
I jumped in his car, pulling the seatbelt across me, and off we went.
‘Just stopping here a minute, doll,’ he smiled, driving down a secluded lane. Pulling over, he stopped the car.
‘Pop your seatbelt,’ he smiled.
‘Are we getting out?’ I asked. He shook his head.
Leaning over, he laid his right hand on my thigh. Silently, but breathing heavily in my ear, he slid it up to my waist. Then he slipped it inside my trousers.
‘Wh-what are you doing?’ I squeaked.
‘Shush, pet,’ he groaned.
This was wrong, but it was my Granddad, I loved him. Confusion froze me to the spot.
After what seemed hours, he finally sighed and sat back. ‘Put your seatbelt on,’ he smiled. Then, leaning over, his tobacco breath choking me: ‘And remember, this is our secret.’
After that, Granddad always needed my help. Organising things in the garage, tidying the shed, putting up a picture… it always ended the same way. I hated it, surely he realised that? One day, I plucked up courage.
‘I don’t like it when you do that,’ I whispered.
‘Well, you have to do what I say,’ he smiled, menacingly. ‘Everyone does.’
Then he leaned in closer, his nicotine-stained fingers cupping my face firmly. ‘Tell anyone and I’ll get a chainsaw and kill your family,’ he sneered.
Terrified, I nodded, sure that he meant every word.
Maybe, if I avoided him, I wouldn’t have to tell anyone, and Granddad wouldn’t have the chance to bother me, either.
Getting in from school, I’d go straight upstairs and do my homework, eat dinner quickly, then head to bed. It worked, after a fashion. Granddad never came into my room, but he’d make up chores to get me alone.
Just before my 13th birthday, I grew boobs. Instinctively, I knew this was bad news. Throwing out my tight T-shirts, I wore jumpers two sizes too big, hoping not to encourage him.
Not that he needed any. If he couldn’t get me alone, he’d squeeze past me in the kitchen, rubbing his crotch against me.
Then, when I was 15, Dad came home from work with a smile.
‘Fancy a job?’ he grinned. ‘Granddad’s put in a word for you at the recycling plant, got you a gig cleaning the offices.’
They worked together there – if I stuck by Dad, maybe I’d be okay.
I felt bile rise in my throat, but how could I say no? I’d been bugging my parents for extra pocket money for ages.
The first few times I stayed close to Dad, or made sure I was paired with someone. Then, one night, Dad came to see me. ‘I’m not feeling well, I’m heading home.’
My heart sank. ‘I… I’m nearly finished,’ I croaked. ‘I’ll come, too.’
‘No, pet,’ Granddad’s voice said behind me. The hairs stood up on my neck.
‘One of the offices needs cleaning first. I’ll run you home.’
There was nothing I could do.
Alone together in the office, a smirk spread across Granddad’s face. Before I realised what was happening, he grabbed me around the waist, bent me over a desk, and yanked my trousers down.
‘No, please…’ I begged, as I struggled. He’d touched me before, but never…
I closed my eyes against the searing pain.
‘I’ll drive us home,’ he growled when he’d finished. ‘Remember, this is our secret,’ he added.
I sat in silence while he whistled along to the car radio. As soon as we pulled up outside, I ran in, grabbed a bag, and started packing.
‘I’m staying at a friend’s tonight,’ I told Mum, as I came downstairs.
‘What? You didn’t say,’ she said. ‘At least have dinner.’
Granddad was staring me out from the corner of the room.
‘I’m going,’ I blurted.
‘Granddad Jimmy’ll drive you,’ called Gran.
‘No!’ I screamed, legging it to my mate Elizabeth’s place.
The next morning, I made a huge decision.
I didn’t care about his threats. I couldn’t go on like this, always jumping when he came into a room, feeling my skin crawl when I heard his voice.
This vile secret was eating me up. I felt so dirty I wanted to scream, and scrub myself raw.
Finding Mum at home, I took a deep breath…‘Jimmy’s been touching me since I was 12,’ I told her. ‘Last night, he… raped me.’
There was silence.
Mum gazed at me, stunned.
Immediately, I regretted what I’d just said.
Jimmy was right. Who’d believe me, a kid? She probably thought I was a liar, or worse… that I’d done something to deserve it…
‘We’ll move out!’ she said. ‘I’ll get you counselling, love. You won’t have to see him ever again!’
Relief flooded through me as she wrapped her arms around me.
All this time, I’d been convinced of Granddad Jimmy’s threats.
I sobbed in Mum’s arms.
Over the next few years, we moved from village to village until we heard Jimmy and Gran had split.
Mum, Dad and Leanne went back to live with her, but I couldn’t face it, I couldn’t face that house and its memories.
Besides, I’d started seeing William, my friend Elizabeth’s brother. I told him everything and he was so understanding.
Then I found out I was pregnant a year after we started dating.
Delighted, I told my friends and family, then I realised there was a section of my family I hadn’t seen in ages. It had been years, in fact.
Auntie Diane and Hazel had moved away when I was eight.
So I tracked down my auntie and visited her for a catch-up.
‘Congratulations!’ she smiled when I told her my news.
‘So, how’s Hazel?’ I asked.
Diane sighed heavily. ‘She’s okay. Struggling to cope after everything that happened with Jimmy.’
I went cold. ‘What?’ I whispered.
‘I thought your mum might have heard and told you,’ she frowned.
‘Hazel told me he used to touch her when she was a kid.
‘I took her to the police as soon as she told me, but they dropped the case because of lack of evidence.’
What?! I couldn’t believe I was hearing this.
All those times Jimmy had asked Hazel to run errands with him, how I’d begged to go instead. I’d been jealous and thought she was the favourite, but he’d been abusing her all along.
‘Jimmy did it to me, too,’ I whispered. ‘He raped me when I was 15.’
Her face… she was horrified.
‘Y-you never went to the police?’ she asked. I shook my head.
‘We need to, now!’ she cried.
‘Hazel made a statement, but there wasn’t enough evidence – but with the statement you’ve made, they can charge him.’
Would they believe me, could I put this to rest at last?
I was petrified as we drove to the police station but, with Diane holding my hand, I told the police officers everything.
They arrested Jimmy immediately, and I was asked to give evidence in court.
Watching Diane pick up the phone to tell Hazel, I shivered thinking about all the horrible things we’d both suffered in silence for years.
When Hazel had found the courage to go to the police, though, it had not been enough. Now, I prayed, they’d listen to me – for both of us.

Hazel takes up the story below:

Listening to Mum’s voice over the phone, I fought back tears.‘You’re not alone, love,’ she sobbed. ‘We can get him!’
To think, I’d been so jealous of my cousin Pauline when we were kids. Jimmy never asked her to help him with errands, or keep him company in the garage. She was the lucky one – obviously his favourite. Why else would he hurt me and not her?
It had started when I was seven. He’d crept into the spare room where I’d slept when I stayed overnight at Gran’s. At first, I’d thought he’d just come to read me a bedtime story…
‘This is our little secret, pet,’ he’d said, sliding his hand inside my nightdress. ‘If you tell anyone, they’ll put you in a home for naughty children.’
I shuddered at the memory, gripping the phone tighter.
By the time I was 14, I couldn’t take the abuse any longer. So what if they put me in a home? At least that way Jimmy couldn’t get to me.
I’d been stunned when Mum believed me, wrapping her arms around me as we both broke down.
She’d promised he’d never touch me again.
We’d gone to the police, and done everything we should, but it hadn’t been enough. The case against him was dropped, due to the lack of evidence.
I’d failed.
After that, I did everything I could to avoid bumping into him.
We’d never gone to Gran’s house again. We moved to a different town, and stopped seeing half my family.
Now, listening to Mum telling me what he’d done afterwards, how he’d raped my little cousin…
Was there more I could have done to have saved her?
Could I have tried harder to get him prosecuted?
No! This was his fault and no one else’s.
‘I’m coming over,’ I told her.
Walking into Mum’s lounge, I glanced at Pauline sitting on the sofa.
‘Hi,’ she murmured, looking back nervously.
As our eyes met, my breath caught in my throat. All these years I’d felt jealous of her. How many times had I wished he’d taken someone else, anyone but me, on his ‘errands’?
I was overwhelmed by guilt and it took everything I had to remind myself Jimmy was the one who’d had all the power, my wishes hadn’t brought this on Pauline.
I rushed forward and hugged her. One wounded soul comforting another. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I sobbed.
Pulling away, she stared at me, stunned.
‘None of this is your fault,’ she said firmly. ‘He’s the one to blame – and we’re going to make sure he never does it again!’
Brilliant! Together we’d fight this monster, and this time he’d be beaten, once and for all.
It was a comfort knowing we could keep each other going when things got tough. But knowing that she’d suffered the same horrors as me… well, it was
just awful.
So we didn’t talk about what had happened, there was no point reliving the past. Instead, we chatted about everyday stuff, from the weather to Pauline’s one-year-old son Will and my son Nathan, three.
The police charged Jimmy with sexual abuse and rape.
I was racked with nerves.
‘What if he gets away with it again? Who else will he hurt?’ I panicked.
‘He’s going down,’ Pauline assured me. ‘We’ll make sure justice is done.’
We’d both have to give evidence in Glasgow High Court.
‘You can stand behind a screen, you don’t have to see him,’ an officer told me.
‘No,’ I said. ‘I’m not hiding any more.’ Shaking, I took the stand.
Jimmy looked right through me.
Sobbing, I poured my heart out. I didn’t spare any detail.
Pauline did the same.
It was the first time I’d heard exactly what he’d done to her – it was horrific.
Angry tears spilled down my cheeks.
In January, a jury found Ronald ‘Jimmy’ Adamson, 49, guilty
of sexually abusing both of us and of raping Pauline.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
We burst into tears as the verdict was read out, and hugged each other tight. We’d done it! Finally, we were both free.
‘Thank you,’ I whispered.
After five years thinking Jimmy had got away with what he’d done to me, I can now move on, thanks to Pauline. We both can.
Pauline Robertson, 19, Carstairs, Lanarkshire & Hazel Fraser, 20, Carluke, Lanarkshire