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Changing lives Daughter whose father was jailed for years of abuse to campaign for greater support for individuals

"I’m out the other side now..The work I want to do now is the next step"


Brave Charlene Masterson speaks to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Brave Charlene Masterson speaks to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Brave Charlene Masterson speaks to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice.

A woman whose father was jailed last week for subjecting her to years of abuse is to campaign for greater awareness and support for individuals. 

Charlene Masterson (32) waived her anonymity in a bid to highlight the difficulties she faced as David Masterson (56) was jailed for 17 years for sexually abusing his daughter over a 7½-year period after first blackmailing her.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Masterson went on to defile three girls, having sexual encounters with two teenage girls and entering into a sexual relationship with a third.

The court heard this occurred after his daughter reported the seven years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father to her mother in 2014 and he left the family home.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Ms Masterson said that if her friend, who was training to be a social worker, had not confronted her about the abuse, who knew what would have happened.

“I want to focus on changing lives,” said Ms Masterson and explained that the abuse took place for seven and a half years and that she had had seven years since it ended to “process it.”

“I’m out the other side now. The work I want to do now is the next step,” she said.

When asked if she had any regrets about waiving her anonymity, she said: “not one.” Her main aim had been to help people and this was “one step of the journey.”

The abuse started when she turned 18, she said, but it was only afterwards she realised her father had been grooming and controlling her from her early teens.

Ms Masterson said she finally discovered her father’s role in the abuse when she attempted to assist her grandmother install a programme on her laptop and found a DVD with a recording of two of the abuse incidents, which she knew had been recorded as it had been a “bargaining chip.”

She knew then her father was her abuser but did not know what to do. The person to whom she should have been able to turn to for assistance, was the person who was abusing her. “I didn’t have anywhere to turn.”

By that stage she realised her father did not care that other people knew and had held her by the throat up against a wall one night when there was another friend staying over.

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Her trainee social worker friend continued to question her and said she would not leave until she had answers. “This time I said yes” when asked if her father was abusing her, she said.

As soon as her mother heard what had been happening she told the father to “get out” and there has been no contact since that day.

Ms Masterson said that despite the length of sentence imposed on her father – 24 years, reduced to 18 because he pleaded guilty with one year suspended, he would not serve “all those years” because of the system.

The judge in the case had been very kind, she said. “All cases of this nature are horrific,” she but added the judge had realised the magnitude of what had happened.

Ms Masterson thanked the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for their support during the court case and afterwards.

She had considered not giving her victim impact statement herself. But she felt it was something she would regret if she did not deliver it herself.

While there could not be a template for victim impact statements, Ms Masterson felt there could be guidance provided along with support for the friends and family of abuse survivors.

Her mother carried great guilt that she was not aware of the abuse, but she said that even if her mother watched her for 23 hours a day, her father would have gotten to her for that last hour.

“I wasn’t safe anywhere,” she said.

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