Sex-abuse victim relives horrors in ‘heartbreaking’ and inspiring book

Dawn Phillips. Hailsham, author of book about being an abuse victim. SUS-151125-165129008
Dawn Phillips. Hailsham, author of book about being an abuse victim. SUS-151125-165129008

An East Sussex woman who was sexually abused when she was younger has waived her right to anonymity to release a book about her experiences.

Dawn Phillips saw her attacker jailed over 20 years ago but only decided to start penning a book a few months after her brother’s death in October 2013.

She said: “I decided to begin writing the book a few months after the death of my brother in October 2013 and completed it this August 2015.

“Although his death was found to be undetermined, it seemed that he took his own life. The demons from our past were always close to the surface. I wanted to tell our story, not just for myself, but for all the other women and men who have had to live with a paedophile and hide the truth. Maybe telling my story would help others to tell theirs, or open up to the idea of not hiding the truth anymore.

“Also, there have been hordes of stories with regards to Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, priests - these are the ‘famous’ paedophiles, but there are many, many more paedophiles out there that no-one knows; the man next door, your best friend’s dad, uncle, brother... These men are in plain sight, but hidden behind so many lies.

“So much more needs to be done to prevent this sort of thing happening to more and more children. There must be a way. In fact, I wrote some children’s books in 1992/93 covering the issues of sexual abuse, physical abuse and mental/verbal abuse, for children to be able to read themselves, or with a teacher.

“This was to provide them with the language they needed to be able to talk about it and feelings that would emerge. Back then it was even more of a taboo subject than it is now and even though I gained a lot of support from some important people and organisations, it was dead in the water, because people in general didn’t want to deal with sexual abuse, or discuss this issue. I think it scares people still.”

Dawn now lives in Hailsham but grew up in various public houses, including The Maygarland Inn in Horam, The New Inn in Sidley and The Woolpack in Herstmonceux.

Speaking about writing the book, she said: “At times it was terribly difficult, because I had to remember the actual events, which led to remembering the smells, the touches and the general torture that he put me through. I think that’s why it took so long to write.

“At times, I found it amusing when discussing and reminiscing about the music, the games, the films and general nonsense I got up to with my friends that were in my life then and still are. They encouraged me to keep going. In a way it was cathartic, in that it was a relief to get it all out.

“I have begun the sequel to this book, where the perpetrator is arrested.

“He was actually arrested after I found out that he was living with a woman with a young girl and went to the police. I couldn’t bear the thought of him doing to her what he did to me. I hope he didn’t hurt her as well, but I never did find out.

“Unfortunately, his arrest and the trial was many years after the abuse had begun and subsequently ended. The damage was already done.”

The book, entitled Shadows Of The Promise, is based on the story of Dawn’s life but features a girl called Dee, whose mother Ruby, married Dobert, a monstrous paedophile, when Dee was five.

The book’s description states: “This story takes you through the good times, funny times and the horrific reality of her life. From the age of five through her teenage years, Dee learned to give up power to him and endure the pain. She learned to play her step-fathers games in order to survive. She learned to cope through her vivid imagination, thought processes, out of body experiences and separating events into day and night.

“Dee takes us through a journey of pain and fear. Not listened to, not heard, she slipped through the cracks, like so many during this era. To the outside world they were a ‘normal’ middle class family, outsiders couldn’t know the nightmare being lived behind closed doors.”

Despite being published less than a month, the book has already received rave reviews on Amazon.

One customer posted: “A beautifully written book and a hugely compelling read. Even though it made me angry at times and hugely sad, I found it impossible to put down once I started and read it without stopping!

“I feel for all the children that have to endure these terrible things and this book gave me a real insight into what they go through.

I really hope there is a sequel as I would like to know how the story ends as I felt an emotional connection to the main character.”

Another customer added: “Wow - just finished reading this... So beautifully written, that the author actually makes you feel you are there with the main character and sadly takes you to some dark places no child should ever have to endure - like the others I need a sequel ! I need to know what becomes of Dee - and what happened to the terrible people she encountered in her childhood.

“It’s a book that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions and well worth a read.”

A third review stated: “As heartbreaking as this book is, I loved it and couldn’t put it down.

“For anyone to go through what Dee went through is unthinkable but I loved that the book is written so honestly yet it still has a touch of humour. I cant wait for the second instalment.”

The book is available at

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