“I was sexually abused when I was four and kept it a secret for years – when my son reached the same age I knew I finally had to tell someone”



Kelly Felstead doesn’t trust anyone anymore.

“I find it very, very difficult,” she said. “I always try to guess people now because I am so afraid of being betrayed or exploited again.”

When she was just four – an innocent and happy child who is still learning about the world around her, Kelly says she was sexually assaulted by a family friend’s brother, a much older boy. older than she – and someone she trusted.

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After her father left home, Kelly, her mother and her brother started spending more time with their friends and visited their homes two or three times a week. Each time, Kelly says she was subjected to sickening abuse, with this campaign ending only shortly before her seventh birthday, when she moved out.

But while she could physically distance herself from her tormentor, Kelly’s memories of the heartbreaking incidents continue to haunt her to this day, with vivid flashbacks pushing her into a nervous breakdown and crippling bouts of depression and anxiety.

What makes her story even more heartbreaking is that she has kept what happened for over 25 years, fearing at first that it was her fault and that no one would believe her, but later by desire to prevent her mother from blaming herself.

After her son turned four in 2018, Kelly finally opened up to those around her and the man involved was arrested, questioned and released on bail a year later. However, earlier this month the story reached a devastating conclusion as the case did not go to court and her attacker was not charged.

Kelly Felstead has kept the abuse she suffered as a child a secret for over 25 years, but now encourages others in the same situation to speak out

Despite this, Kelly is now looking to the future after finally shedding the burden of her past – and urging anyone who has gone through something similar to go to the police and seek help.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell anyone sooner,” she said. “The number of ways this has affected my life is unimaginable. It has been a real battle since the first day it happened.”

Growing up in South Wales in the early 1990s, Kelly says she had a “beautiful and happy” childhood, despite her father leaving home in 1992.

“After that we would go to our family friends a bit more often. We would go there to play and stuff like that,” she said.

“But what really happened… I was very, very young to experience something like this. But I remember knowing even then that it was not right.

“He told me at the time that if I had to tell someone, I’d be the one in trouble. As a little kid, it’s absolutely terrifying – so you think you have to do everything. that you may keep it a secret.

Although she felt what had happened was wrong, it wasn’t until Kelly reached high school that she realized exactly what had happened to her.

“It was always in my head,” she said. “I would have these frequent flashbacks to what happened and think about telling someone, but I would say it wasn’t until I was 12 that I started to figure it out.

“We had sex education classes in school and we learned how your body is your body and that no one touches your body without your permission. Sexual abuse.”

“I felt so sick and absolutely devastated and used – it was such a horrible feeling to realize what had happened.”

Four year old Kelly
Four year old Kelly

Even after realizing that she had been abused, Kelly was still reluctant to reach out and tell someone about it.

“At that age, I thought the police wouldn’t believe me,” she said. “I’m so disgusted that I thought so, like I now know they would.”

“I didn’t want to tell my parents either, mainly because of my mom. She raised us on her own and knowing what kind of person she is, I knew she would blame herself, even if he didn’t. there was no possible sign that she could have picked up.

“That’s what kept me from saying anything for all these years – I was just trying to protect my mom more than anything, probably more than myself.”

Afraid to speak up, Kelly took her tragic secret with her throughout her childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. Looking back, she admits that what happened to her as a child affected her life in “unimaginable” ways.

“This betrayal has caused me so many times of desperation and hardship in my life,” she said. “It’s been a battle ever since, and I suffer from PTSD, OCD, anxiety and depression.”

“The flashbacks, the lack of confidence – all of those things got me into some very, very low times.”

In August 2014, Kelly and her husband Nick – whom she married the following year – welcomed their first child, Thomas, after three years of fertility treatment. But even that special moment was marred for Kelly by the trauma of her childhood.

“Even though it’s been so long to get there, when I was pregnant with him I found it really difficult,” she admitted. “Whether it’s the hormones circulating or whatever, the flashbacks I had were increased tenfold during my pregnancy.

“I was so depressed – but I didn’t tell the midwife, I didn’t tell anyone. Because we tried for so long to have a child, I felt bad so I Felt like I felt. Even after having Thomas, I was in a very, very bad situation with postpartum depression.

“It seemed like I just couldn’t escape what had happened to me – it was affecting all of these important parts of my life.”

The mother-of-one suffers from PTSD, OCD, anxiety and depression as a result of the abuse - but reached breaking point when her son was four years old.
The mother-of-one suffers from PTSD, OCD, anxiety and depression as a result of the abuse – but reached breaking point when her son was four years old.

But it was a few years later, when Thomas was four, that Kelly finally reached breaking point.

“It was an incredibly difficult time in my life,” she said. “Perhaps the most difficult time.

“I looked at him and saw how vulnerable and precious he was. Just the thought of what I went through and then happened to him, it broke me completely. I had a bit of depression.

“That’s when I knew I had to get help somewhere.”

Having confided only to her husband and very close friends, no one else knew why Kelly felt the way she was – but that all changed when she visited her GP to try and change her drug dosages.

“She was fantastic,” Kelly said. “We sorted all the drugs, increased the dose and she gave me a lot of information. But when we finished talking, she just looked at me and said, ‘Do you want to discuss something else with me? ‘.

“Then it all spilled out. I told her everything and it definitely got the ball rolling – I’m so grateful that she recognized that I had to talk to someone and gave me this opportunity to open up. . “

After speaking to her GP, Kelly was referred to specialist counseling, but it wasn’t until two years later, in 2020, that she was able to get an appointment. Around this time, she ran into her alleged attacker on several occasions.

“He came to my workplace,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, please, please don’t come back here anymore.’ It turned out that he came a few times after that, which in my opinion , may have been on purpose, because he knew I was working there then.

“Another time, we saw him again at a local store. My husband went to him and told him that he knew exactly what kind of person he was and that there was a name for people like him.

“Disgustingly, his reaction to that was to smile and laugh – I think that’s what rocked me. I knew I had to talk.”

Kelly on the occasion of her seventh birthday
Kelly on the occasion of her seventh birthday

In February 2020, Kelly gathered all her courage to finally tell her parents what had happened to her almost 30 years ago. Even after everything that had already happened, she says it was one of the worst days of her life.

“I had told my advisor that I didn’t want to tell my mother what had happened,” she said. “But she told me, as sad as it may be, that one day my mother won’t be around for me to say it anymore. If I never told her, I wouldn’t get the support of her that I did. know I would get it. “

“So I told them – but it was horrible,” she said. “Simply awful. Took a little while for it to come out to be honest I just didn’t know where to start. I mean, what can you say?

“When I managed to pull it out and tell them what had happened, it was just as horrible – in fact, it makes me a little sick to think about it now. They were obviously both devastated and completely distraught, while my father was naturally absolutely furious.

“But as horrible as it could be, I finally told them and now I had the courage to take it further.”

Four days later, Kelly contacted the police and told them her story. Kelly and her family then had to wait a long time for a Crown Prosecution Service ruling on whether the man would be charged and the case referred to Crown Court. But when the ruling was released earlier this month, it wasn’t good news.

“I was devastated when I found out he wouldn’t be charged,” Kelly said.

Kelly now focuses on encouraging other victims of abuse to speak out and get support
Kelly now focuses on encouraging other victims of abuse to speak out and get support.

Despite the decision not to go her way, Kelly now looks to the future.

Now, its main goal is to encourage other people who have been abused – in childhood or in adulthood – to seek help, as well as educating them about resources they can use.

“It took me 28 years to go to the police, and I really really wish I had been there sooner,” she said. “But having been there myself, I understand why people don’t, because you absolutely think, ‘are they going to believe me? “, especially if it happened a long time ago.

“But I can hand over my heart say they were amazing, they believed me and took my case very, very seriously. People just need to know that you can and should go to the police.

“There is so much help available out there – please, if you need to talk to anyone, do so. I promise you, you have it.”

Support for victims of rape and sexual assault is available from the South Wales Police here.

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