Sex abuser Martin Doyle’s wife and daughter tell their survival story to help others
Siobhán Moore was only seven when the abuse began
Martin Doyle was jailed for 12-and-half-years last week for raping his wife and systematically sexually abusing his young daughter.
Siobhán Moore was only seven when the abuse began. It continued every week until she was 15, unbeknown to her mother, Olivia Tuite.
The Central Criminal Court heard harrowing evidence about the sexual crimes committed by the psychiatric nurse against his wife and daughter, but the jury heard only a fraction of the details of the reign of terror Doyle inflicted behind closed doors.
Today, Olivia and Siobhán tell their story of survival in the unrelenting presence of a predator. Both women hope that by speaking about what happened, it might reach people suffering abuse and give them the strength to come forward.
Olivia met Doyle when they were training to be nurses in the UK over three decades ago. “It was just before both of our 21st birthdays. He would cook me dinner, buy me flowers,” she said. “Things were very good between us. But it started to go downhill fast after the birth of my eldest, a son.”
The couple, who are both from Meath, would go on to have five children — three girls and two boys.
Olivia remembers well the first time her husband attacked her. “I was pregnant with Siobhán,” she said. “My eldest was just under a year-and-a-half. He came at me with a cleaver through a door.”
From there, the violence escalated.
“It was every week, often twice a week. It mostly happened when he was drinking. There was violence against the children too, but it was mostly me. I think there would have been much more inflicted on the children if I didn’t put myself in the way.”
A couple of years after the first attack, another incident happened that is ingrained in Olivia’s memory.
The family were still living in the UK, and Doyle locked his wife out of the house. Afraid for her young children alone inside with their drunken father, she fetched a ladder.
“I got the ladder from the shed, put it against the wall and began to climb up. He opened the window and pushed the ladder,” she said. “Luckily, there was a flat roof and I threw myself on to it. My eldest was about four or five. He opened his window and I was able to climb in.”
Doyle was not charged with any incidents of physical violence against his wife.
“The rapes were the most serious crime. The violence was just part of my life,” she said. “He did martial arts and I was his practice dummy. I wasn’t permitted to say no to him.”
Doyle was convicted of three counts of raping Olivia. In May 2009, he raped her on the night before he was due to go to England to bury his mother. They were in the sitting room when he told her he “needed relief” before the funeral, but she said she was ovulating and it was not safe.
He grabbed her, twisted her around and pushed her down on the couch, breaking it. After raping her, he grabbed the beer bottle he had been drinking from and sexually assaulted her with it.
Were the sexual attacks as frequent as the beatings?
“He would tell me it was his marital right. If I did try to say no, he would inflict mental and physical abuse. There was a lot of coercive control. I was afraid to say no, so I mostly didn’t. In the back of my mind, I was always trying to protect my children from him, because if he didn’t get what he wanted, he would make everyone suffer.”
Olivia tried her best to shield the children when they were young from what was happening.
“There were many nights when I would shut myself in a room with the children. I would sit all night with my back against the door to keep him out. I would tell them we were indoor camping. I’d get crisps and popcorn and try and make it fun for them, to hide what was happening.”
Her efforts to protect her children from their father seemed to work, for Siobhán at least, until the family moved back to Ireland when she was seven.
“For me, the problems began when we came to Ireland. My father was always very quick to anger. He was very strict. His view was that children should be seen and not heard,” she said.
He did not nurture good relationships with any of his children.
“We were in competition with each other, really, to get brownie points so that he wouldn’t be angry with us. There were beatings — he didn’t know his own strength. I have one or two good memories of him, that’s all,” Siobhán said.
The family moved initially to Mayo for around a year before relocating to Sligo after buying a farm.
Siobhán, who is now 26 and married with two young children, said she did not have the words to articulate the sexual abuse her father began to inflict on her shortly after they returned to Ireland.
“I was seven, I didn’t know what was happening. I just had a feeling of wrongness. That has stuck with me, that feeling. I think it is a little part of me for ever.”
Doyle was convicted of 24 counts of sexually assaulting Siobhán between 2004 and 2011, when she was between seven and 15 years of age. These represented a sample of the offences against her, his trial heard, as he had sexually assaulted her two or three times a week while she showered.
The court heard the sexual assaults also took place at a lake near the family home, as well as in her aunt’s house and when she and her father were camping.
How did it feel to see him finally convicted and jailed for abusing her for so many years?
“It’s very bittersweet,” she said. “I hope it encourages others in a similar situation to come forward, because no one should ever keep quiet. But I grieve my father figure. It’s a little sting. I put my father in prison. I feel like I’m at war with myself over it. But I know I did a good thing. It was all done to protect my younger sisters. There’s no way I would let them go through what I did. One day, I hope I can realise I did it for myself too.”
Everything changed for Siobhán after an incident in the family home in Sligo when she was 15. Her father, in a temper, picked up one of her younger sisters and threw her into the hall, hitting a wall. The child was around eight years old. Siobhán acted.
“That was it for me. I went to a youth liaison officer [within social services] the next day. That led to him eventually leaving,” she said.
Olivia remembers that incident. Doyle had just returned from a shooting event — he was a gun enthusiast and kept several firearms as well as martial arts swords in their home.
“He was in a bad humour. The child was dancing in the hall and he just picked her up and flung her. I was in the kitchen. I just heard the bang. When I came out, he had Siobhán by the throat. That was really the beginning of the end.”
It was not the first intervention by social workers. They had interacted with Olivia a year previously after a public health nurse noticed she was not OK during a check-up with her infant daughter in 2011. Unbeknown to them, Olivia had recently been raped by Doyle.
After prolonged discussions with social services, he eventually agreed to leave the family home in November 2012. His drinking at the time was at an all-time high, according to his wife, who is still awaiting a divorce.
“He was drinking from dusk until dawn around that time. All he would eat each day was a tub of ice cream, some apples and alcohol. That was it. I was terrified in many ways when he left. He had control of all the finances. I didn’t even have a bank card.”
Olivia slowly began to find her feet, but it was not long before she faced a setback. Doyle had not been paying the mortgage. He had spent all the family’s money on himself, including expensive gun club memberships and weapons. Within a couple of years of his departure, Olivia and her five children lost their home.
The family found rented accommodation, with the help of Focus Ireland, in Cavan. No longer under her husband’s control, Olivia began to regain her strength. Some time passed, and she went to gardaí and made a complaint about the years of torture she had suffered at the hands of Doyle.
Separately, Siobhán was battling her own demons. As she grew into a young adult, she used alcohol to try to numb her feelings. Her mother knew nothing about the sexual abuse she had been subjected to. Then, at the age of 18, she “blurted it out” to her mother when she was drunk.
It took another couple of years before Siobhán felt able to go to gardaí, which she did when she was in second year in college. “I knew my mum had spoken to gardaí about what happened to her, and then they reached out to me,” she said.
“I decided I would, for the sake of my sisters, because my father was trying to get access to them for visits. I spent so long pushing it down, ignoring it. Gardaí were superb. Detective Garda Chris O’Neill at Ballymote has been a saint. I can’t thank him enough.”
Siobhán does not in any way blame her mother for her father’s crimes. “I know she does feel guilt, but she shouldn’t,” she said. “She didn’t know.”
However, Olivia does feels remorse about what her eldest daughter was subjected to. “I never had any inkling that he would do anything like that to any of my children, because I wasn’t allowed to say no. I do feel guilt, even though it isn’t my fault. I feel I failed Siobhán,” she said.
The man jailed last week seems a different figure to the one who destroyed Siobhán’s life as a child. “He looked smaller, less scary. He looked weaker. I remember a giant.”
Doyle’s trial heard he denied all the allegations and continues to deny the crimes he is jailed for. Is there anything Siobhán would like from her father?
“I wish he would apologise. But I know I will never get that. I feel 10 times lighter now. I’m standing taller. For the first time ever, I don’t feel ashamed.
"I want others to know it’s hell to go through a trial, and not every result is the same. But it’s freeing. This is about removing the stigma around talking about sexual abuse. I would like to see a chain reaction, a ripple effect. I can finally look forward to the future. My childhood was robbed, but I can now relive it with my own kids.”
As Doyle begins his jail sentence, Olivia too finally feels able to move forward. “It’s a long stretch, but he deserves more,” she said. “I’ve been given a life sentence. I don’t trust men any more because I don’t trust my instincts. But I’m proud of myself, that I stood up to him. I was always looking over my shoulder, even since we separated over a decade ago. Now, I finally truly feel safe.”
If you have been affected by any of the subjects in the above article, contact the Rape Crisis Centre Freephone: 1800 77 88 88
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