The police called me when I was on holiday to tell me they’d found videos of my dad raping me as a child
Mayameen Meftahi was abused daily by her father but had blocked out the sickening truth about her childhood
SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR SPEAKS ON NEW CAMPAIGN
For years, Mayameen Meftahi didn’t understand that what her father was doing to her wasn’t normal.
He called her his princess, told her they had a relationship of unconditional love.
She can’t tell you everything he did to her. She was so young she blocked a lot of it out. But in 2012, her father was jailed for 10 years after admitting counts of incest, indecent assault, committing gross indecency with a child and making indecent images of a child.
In fact she only realised the scale of what he had done to her when he was caught by complete chance in 2011.
It was then, out of the blue, she received a phone call from police.
“I remember screaming at the officer ‘why are you trying to destroy my life now?’,” she said.
The officer told her they’d found video tapes of her being abused, and evidence she had been drugged by her father as a youngster.
A family member had found a video of him raping.
“I went on holiday to Tunisia, which is where my husband is from, and the police called me to tell me he’d been arrested.”
Her Dad had gone on holiday to France, and a relative was looking after his house.
They went round and turned the electrics on, and the TV came on and a video of him raping his daughter started playing.
He had been watching it the night before.
“I had no idea of the scale of what he’d been doing,” she said.
“She (the police officer) told me I was safe now. In my eyes, I was already safe but now I understand that was due to the drugs.”
She remembers being very young, cartoons playing on the TV and her father sat very close to her.
She hated bath time because he would rub his hands over her body. He’d make her pose for him to take pictures.
He raped her, abusing her “two to four times a day”.
It was around the ages of nine to eleven that she started to realise that the same thing wasn’t happening to her friends.
“For me, my childhood was just normal,” she said.
But, from the age of four she had been abused. It was sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
“I remember waking up on the sofa and cartoons were on the TV and him sitting beside me.
“When I was very young, he would always be beside me, touching my body.”
She remembers confronting him and him taking her in his van, pouring petrol over himself and telling her he would set fire to his van with him inside it if she ever told anyone. The fear kept her silent.
As she got older, the abuse happened after he had drugged her, spiking her tea or hot chocolate.
Aged 16, she left the family home and went on with her life.
She married husband Hos and had a child.
Her dad was there on her wedding day, taking her down the aisle, but she said she felt uneasy during the whole time he was near her.
After he was jailed, Mayameen waived the anonymity to which she is entitled. She wanted to do that to talk about what he did to her, to encourage other victims to report their abusers.
She has set up a petition calling for a child house in Wales.
The idea, used already in Iceland and London has different forms but she’s clear, this isn’t about a particular model but starting a discussion about what could work here in Wales.
When she was being abused, she did run away from home. But the police would find her, and take her back to the house.
“I remember being 12 or 13 and running away and being found when the conductor came round on the train and I didn’t have a ticket.
“When you’re in fight or flight mode, you run. You run because it’s that point where you see you’re strong enough now to run.”
In a letter to the Assembly’s petition committee, she said: “I do wonder if I was aware there was a place I could go to, that was child friendly, and welcoming.
“Would I have run there to find solace, would I have disclosed the child sexual abuse I encountered from the age of four to the time of my father’s arrest in 2011?
“I guess that is an unanswerable question, but is it something we can consider for the future of our children, with statistics so high for child sexual abuse. I know that many I have spoken too, have shared this same idea.”
She told the committee: “Children do not report to the ‘professionals’ – we are taught from a very early age that Social Services will remove us and it is a bad thing, that is part of the grooming process.
“This is why children disclose in other ways other than walking up to a professional or police officer and saying ‘I am being sexually abused’.
“Children are groomed by fear, but also their role models are the ones abusing them.
“The fact that we know child sexual abuse is undisclosed, means we have to review the current ways we are working with children, we have to see it from a child’s eye.
“I feel that children would more likely ‘run to’ a place of comfort with their indirect disclosures and if we could provide that safety unit, are we saving a child? I believe it is to be considered.”
She thinks there needs to be a “stop gap” in place for children so they are not returned home, if they allege abuse.
“For me, this is about making that stepping stone and can we use that model and adapt it because there’s no option available in the UK to run to.”
During a meeting of the petitions committee, chair David Rowlands praised Mrs Meftahi for bringing the issue to the attention of the committee.
Rhondda AM Leanne Wood called it a “very interesting petition”.
“This is something our local authority care system is meant to do and it’s clear it’s not doing what it’s meant to do.
“I think there’s a gap in the system here.
“Even though there’s a relatively small number of signatures to this petition it’s something I’d like us to pursue further”.
Conservative AM Janet Finch Saunders said there needed to be “all encompassing” services.
“We have very fractured services across Wales”.
The committee agreed to write to the children’s commissioner and Welsh Government for their response to the committee.
Mayameen is now petitioning for victims of Child Sexual Abuse to be told the location of their offenders when they are released from prison.
You can sign the petition here.