'When I wet the bed, I was terrified I was going to be told off. I wasn’t. "Come over to daddy." I wished I had only been told off.'
As a young child, she suffered horrendous violence.
It is a shocking testimony in the extreme. But we believe
Sunday World readers would prefer to know the truth about the man many believed was a rugby hero and community leader.
In reality, Davy Tweed was a paedophile and a bully who was prepared to use violence to get his way.
Here, in her own words, Catherine tells her story:
I was standing at the bottom of my bed sobbing my heart out.
Through the sobs I squeaked. “I’ve wet the bed”, terrified I was going to be told off. I wasn’t.
“Come over to daddy.” I wished I had only been told off.
At the age of six, this is my earliest memory of then the sexual abuse started with my father. This is when I began living my life in a state of fear. This is when the threats of being taken away from my family, that I would be the cause of a family split, that he would kill me and I believe he would have. I felt terrorised.
If the sexual abuse wasn’t enough for a small child to take on, I also got to feel the full force of my dad’s fists hit against my small body. Curled up in a ball, I used to beg and plead in absolute hurt. “Please daddy, don’t.”
I recall around nine years old my sister had asked one Saturday, could we watch a movie as a family and she took the remote. She froze in fear. His temper wasn’t unknown to us, tip-toeing around, walking on eggshells. In a moment of pure adrenaline and fear, I threw the Yellow Pages with all my might as he was lumbering towards my little sister. This is when I got to feel this ‘gentle giant’s’ fists against my face.
Going out as a family, each and every one of us had to play a certain part, pretending to be the happiest family, people telling you how wonderful of a man he was and me standing smiling, agreeing, being the darling little daughter, because the threat of being murdered was enough for me to take part in my father’s flawless public facade.
During the court case in November 2012, I was there to support the other victims. The day he was found guilty, I was standing in the courtroom hand in hand with the victims, family and friends, as one. When Judge Devlin read out ‘guilty’, I was instantly in shock. We were believed. I was on a high. I felt free.
I lost someone extremely important to me around the time of the sentencing in January 2013, through suicide. My emotions were all over the place. I was standing in the courtroom with my sister when I heard a whisper, ‘Lying bitches’. I was in utter shock. His supporter was calling us liars. I hung my head.
He always told us no one would believe us. The in a moment of confidence, I turned and asked, ‘What did you say?’
I remember Judge Devlin slamming the hammer and shouting ‘order’ as there were heated exchanges between us and Tweed’s supporters. Realising that my own father had been found guilty and was standing in front of a judge awaiting sentence, people still believed his lies and deceit. This made me feel lower than low.
When we received the news of my father’s case being quashed, an instant dread came over me. It was over the tiniest legal loophole not because he was innocent. Then to be told the victims of the case would have to go through it again, but he wouldn’t serve any more time. This ‘gentleman’ monster would be walking the same streets as me again. I felt the legal system failed us as victims.
I never got my day in court with my father. I believe justice could never be served because of who he was, This ‘great’ man.
But where was this good man everyone was talking about? Me, his own flesh and blood, never got to meet him.
I wished I had. Maybe he would have been a good father? Maybe he wouldn’t have come in and pressed himself against me at night? Maybe he wouldn’t have hit me with those closed fists? I was a small defenceless girl facing Man Mountain.
I grieved, but I grieved for the father he wasn’t. I grieved for the father I deserved but didn’t get. I grieved for the father he was. But most importantly, I’ve started the grieving process for the victim I once was.
My father’s death humanised him for me. The realisation that he didn’t have the control I thought he had. In speaking and using MY voice, I can now take back control of my life.
I strongly believe people should speak up, use their voices. They should be heard. But I also believe the justice system is failing victims of sexual abuse. This needs to be addressed.
I don’t feel sorry for who you lost. Because the day my daddy died, my abuser died.
‘The day my daddy died, my abuser died’