Streaming issues? Report here
Pippa Hudson 2019 1500 BW 2 Pippa Hudson 2019 1500 BW 2
Lunch with Pippa Hudson
13:00 - 15:00
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: Afternoon Drive with John Maytham
See full line-up
Lunch with Pippa Hudson
13:00 - 15:00

Home
arrow_forward
Local

'Abuse silences you' - Sharing the story of SA's oldest sexual abuse case

27 February 2020 4:02 PM
Tags:
Sexual abuse
Director of Public Prosecutions
paedophile
Claudine Shiels
Walking Through Front Doors
stolen childhood
Claudine Shiels shares her story with a live studio audience, after publishing a memoir 45 years after the alleged abuse.

(This article and audio contain sensitive content that may be triggering)

"I want to have a voice and to be able to speak to the same degree to which I was bullied into silence."

This is how Claudine Shiels describes her need to have her day in court, after she and her sister kept their silence about their childhood sexual abuse for decades.

Shiels and Lisa van der Merwe brought their case 45 years after the reported abuse happened in the seventies.

Shiels has also just published her memoir Walking Through Front Doors - Seeking Justice for a Stolen Childhood.

She shares her story with a live studio audience on Lunch with Pippa Hudson.

Shiels says she had to weigh up conflicting advice - being urged to tell her story on the one hand and on the other, to wait until the court case was over.

She ultimately decided waiting 45 years had been long enough and it was "time to speak".

Somebody involved in our case said to me: 'Write your story. You now have a voice. Say what you need to say.' I really took that to heart because the thing about abuse is that your are silenced for so long.

Claudine Shiels, Author

I changed names, but I just thought: why must abuse victims be silenced forever? And I'd really found some courage, I'd found some confidence... I felt, why must I be held down any longer?

Claudine Shiels, Author

I thought, why collude with the silence of the 70s? I'm not doing it anymore.

Claudine Shiels, Author

She says it has taken her a long time to connect with the shock and horror of physical and sexual abuse, which in itself is shocking.

We just took it for granted. It almost felt like some men had this attitude that this is a rite of passage for every girl.

Claudine Shiels, Author

It's only since we've actually laid charges and my sister and I have spoken, that we've kind of allowed ourselves to dig really deep into that dirt and say: Actually, this is horrific - the fact that people can help themselves to other people's physical bodies against their wishes and with everything saying no.

Claudine Shiels, Author

Everything we did and everything we said sent a clear message: NO! And yet it was ignored. It was as if certain people just had this inherent belief that everything was there for the picking, including young minors' bodies.

Claudine Shiels, Author

Shiels says she's actually glad that she finally connected with the horror of what happened to her, and it is essential to do this.

She notes that this is not just her story, but a universal one.

The author recounts how a freak accident on a railway line when she was seven changed her happy childhood, growing up with loving parents and an extended family.

What was possibly post-traumatic stress led to her mother to leaving the family home which in turn possibly triggered her "gentle" father's deep-seated rage and anxiety.

After the divorce is when life started changing and she felt a responsibility to "make him feel better".

Later, her father also got married again, to a "glamorous" woman.

After my mom left I became very aware of the fact that I am the oldest daughter and I became quite deeply connected to my father's pain.... My dad was always so proud of me... I had this deep connection with him.

Claudine Shiels, Author

It's not to say I didn't keep missing my mom... but there was enough going on to distract and bury that and I deliberately focused on the exciting part of having a new stepmother.

Claudine Shiels, Author

Amid the constant entertaining and new lifestyle, her father was easily manipulated says Shiels and also started drinking as a distraction.

This changed both her father and step-mother's parenting styles, which led to the two girls feeling worthless. Amid this, two male visitors to the home became their abusers, she says.

The two men have not yet pleaded to the charges in the ongoing court case, which means they cannot be named.

I can see now that grooming took place... they're treating you [two vulnerable children who are feeling a bit neglected] nicely, buying you ice creams, taking you to the beach...

Claudine Shiels, Author

Shiels and her sister became estranged after leaving this dysfunctional home and bringing their story out into the open has brought them back together.

She says the Director of Public Prosecutions is busy "tightening up" the legal framework to try old cases.

Listen to the compelling discussion in the audio below:


27 February 2020 4:02 PM
Tags:
Sexual abuse
Director of Public Prosecutions
paedophile
Claudine Shiels
Walking Through Front Doors
stolen childhood

Recommended

More from Local

Industrial sewing machine clothing manufacturing masks covid-19 123rf

Cape Union Mart's K-Way factory turns into a mask-producing machine

6 April 2020 12:55 PM

Once health organisations said empirical evidence showed the value in wearing cloth masks the company jumped into high-gear.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

fake-news-facebook-covid-19-testing-blurred-facepng

Video claiming Covid-19 tests are contaminated is fake news - WC Health Dept

6 April 2020 12:12 PM

Health authorities have rubbished claims that the Covid-19 community testing kits are contaminated with the virus in response to a fake news video.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

200121-bheki-cele-edjpg

Govt must give continuous updates on GBV support measures, says gender activist

6 April 2020 10:14 AM

Dr Nthabiseng Moleko says greater public awareness is needed about what is being done to combat GBV during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Old age home senior citizen pensioner 123rf

How Cape Town old age home is ensuring safety for its elderly

6 April 2020 8:14 AM

Kensington Home for the Aged has put stringent measures in place to protect residents from Covid-19.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

zweli mkhize

[LATEST] Coronavirus cases in SA now at 1655, 11 deaths confirmed

5 April 2020 10:28 PM

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says on Sunday that two more people have died, one of them in the Western Cape.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

court-hand-cuffs-law-arrest-jailjpg

Pretoria man arrested for allegedly mocking lockdown measures on social media

5 April 2020 12:36 PM

Police say a video shows two young men travelling around Pretoria, bragging they do not comply with the regulations.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Zog

SA-animated 'Zog' wins International Emmy for Best Kids Animation

5 April 2020 10:40 AM

The short film about a clumsy young dragon was co-directed by a South African and animated in Cape Town.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

golden-arrow-bus-rearjpg

Golden Arrow, union resolve issues over Covid-19 safety concerns - Numsa

5 April 2020 9:52 AM

Numsa's Vuyo Lufele reports back after the union accused the bus service of overloading and putting lives at risk.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

200327-lockdown-arrest-edjpg

'No amount of provocation by community should result in law enforcement abuse'

4 April 2020 3:10 PM

Reverend Chris Nissen says more civil society monitoring is needed to keep the volatile lockdown situation in check.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

20200403viljoenjpg

Gen. Viljoen 'demobilised conservative resistance to transition' - Ramaphosa

4 April 2020 12:20 PM

FF Plus founder and former defence force chief General Constand Viljoen died on Friday at the age of 86.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward