Broken silence, p.15

Broken Silence, page 15

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  “Thanks for lunch. I’m going back up to read,” I said, taking my plate to wash it up.

  “You don’t have to hide out, Oakley. You can stay downstairs too. ”

  “Of course you should,” Miles agreed.

  I shook my head. Hanging around them and watching them smile at each other like teenagers wasn’t my idea of fun. “Actually, I’m really fine reading. ”

  “Does Lizzie have a particularly wide variety of books then?” Mum teased.

  “Oh yeah, she has the whole series of Vogue and Cosmopolitan,” I replied sarcastically. “There’s a few things on the bookshelf that look pretty interesting though. ” I nodded to the bookcase out in the hallway.

  “Only if you’re sure, honey. You’re more than welcome to stay with us. ”

  “No thanks,” I replied, winking at her as I walked out of the kitchen. No doubt she would blush. I grabbed the first book of the shelf and went back up to Lizzie’s room, leaving them to it.

  Chapter Sixteen

  Oakley

  My heart was beating as fast as it was the last time I was standing in the courtroom. I could feel myself losing control, and all the breathing exercises I’d learned went out the window. Don’t look at him, I told myself. I kept my head straight and refused to turn to where he was. I couldn’t handle seeing him again.

  You can do this, for every girl he would go on to hurt if you didn’t speak up.

  Strangely, I felt more afraid of him now than I did as a little girl. Back then, I still had hope that he would change, that he would be a proper dad again. That hope was lost the day he took me back to Frank when I was sixteen. I saw him for what he was now – a sick, evil monster.

  No matter how afraid I was, I would not give up. No matter how hard things got, I would stand up and tell everyone what he did. He had to pay for what he’d done, and I was determined to make that happen. Linda stood up and walked towards me. She stopped a meter away and smiled discretely.

  “Could you please state your full name?”

  My heart crashed in my chest. “Oakley Ruby Farrell. ”

  “And how old are you?”

  “Twenty. ”

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  I was asked a few more straight, everyday factual questions like that. Where did I live? Who did I live with? Where did I go to school? And then things turned more serious. Linda straightened her back and glanced at the judge and jury. No turning back now.

  Taking a deep breath, I focused on the end goal – to make sure my father never got the opportunity to cause damage to anyone else, and to get justice for those girls he had hurt, including me, and for my family.

  “Miss Farrell, do you understand why we are here?” Linda asked. Her voice projected authority and confidence. The way she looked and moved was almost as if we had already won.

  “Yes,” I replied. My voice didn’t sound like my own. It was like when you hear your voice in a recording. I wanted to elaborate and tell her, tell them all exactly why we were here, but I couldn’t. I had to keep it simple, not go into detail: one word answers whenever possible.

  Linda nodded once. “Did you grow up here?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Where did you live when you were here?”

  “Eighteen Turner Road. ”

  “Who did you live with at that address?”

  “My mum, dad and brother. ”

  “And how long did you live there?”

  Those questions were still easy. I thought it was getting harder? “Sixteen years,” I said.

  My parents moved when Mum was four months pregnant with me. It was the only house I had ever lived in before we moved to Australia.

  “You just mentioned your father. Do you see him in the court room today? Can you point and verbally acknowledge that he is in the court room so our stenographer can enter your response in to the court records?”

  I took a deep breath. “Yes. He’s there,” I said and pointed to him. I was careful not to look directly into his eyes though. I could feel him watching me, burning a hole in the side of my head. It made me feel weak.

  Linda half smiled and briskly moved on. “Now, Miss Farrell, we are obviously here today because your father, Mr Farrell sold you and other children for the purpose of sex—”

  “Objection,” my father’s defence lawyer, John Bee, cut in. He stood up and faced the judge.

  The judge, a short plump woman, leant forwards a fraction. “Sustained. ”

  Linda was told not to lead the jury to a conclusion when the charges were alleged. Alleged. It made it sound like I was lying. Did the judge think I was lying?

  It didn’t seem to faze Linda at all. She turned back to me and continued. She read out a list of the charges and asked if I understood them.

  The charges were: administering a substance with intent to commit sexual offences; trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation; controlling a child prostitute or a child involved in pornography; causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography; Production of indecent photographs of children; Possession of indecent photographs of children; abuse of position of trust; causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity; sexual assault on a child.

  The last one in particular turned my stomach. While in University, where he met Frank, he had abused a little girl for the first time.

  Gulping back the urge to sob, I stood tall. I couldn’t believe this man was my dad. “Yes. I understand the charges. ”

  “Miss Farrell,” she started again. I wished she would just call me by my first name. I now regretted not changing my surname, but no one had ever called me by my father’s name until now. “On or about the twentieth of August 2008, did you make contact with the Clearview police department?”

  “Yes. ”

  “What was your reason for contacting them?”

  “To report my father for offering me to his friend—”

  “Objection,” John roared. “The witness is being led. ”

  “Overruled,” the judge responded, and I wanted to stick my tongue out at him as he shrank back to his seat. “Please continue,” she instructed Linda.

  Linda carried on, but not before a small smile had flickered across her face at the judge’s intervention.

  “Miss Farrell, can you recall the first time this happened?”

  “When I was five. ”

  “How do remember that you were five, since it was so long ago?”

  “Because it was shortly after my teddy-bear picnic party, which was for my fifth birthday. ”

  The side of Linda’s mouth tugged so quickly I almost missed it. Always make sure you link the time with an event, so the jury know you’re sure of your dates.

  “And when did this stop?”

  “After I turned thirteen. ”

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  “To the best of your memory, can you tell us exactly what happened?”

  My stomach turned, and I squeezed my eyes shut. “Yes. ” I gulped. “At first Frank would just join me and Dad when we went fishing. ” I took another deep breath and swallowed hard. I could hear the blood pumping in my ears. Clenching my hands into fists, I continued. “But after a couple times he started touching me over my clothes. ”

  “Can you tell us where?”

  I clenched my jaw and closed my eyes. Tell them. Just do it. When I opened my eyes again, I launched into every detail. I told them how I didn’t understand what he was doing at the time, but that it felt wrong, and I didn’t like it. I told them how my dad made it sound normal and something that happened to everyone. I told them I could still taste the amber drink Dad gave me that made me feel sleepy today.

  I explained that when I told Dad I didn’t like it, he shouted at me for questioning him and slapped me. I was scared and thought that I’d let him down; I thought he must be really disappointed and must have hated me for him to hit me.

 
I also told them that when I attempted to tell my mum, Dad arrived just in time to stop me actually saying anything. When we were alone in my room, he threatened some hideous things: he told me if Mum found out, that it would kill her, which at five, I took literally. As I got a little older, he said no one would believe me, and I would be taken away if I dared to make any allegations.

  I told them how every time Frank abused me my dad was there, watching. That he took pictures. Lastly, I told them that when I was ten, Dad stood by and let Frank rape me for the first time and that I looked to him for help, but he just stared on with a blank expression I still didn’t understand now.

  I didn’t dare look up at the public gallery as I repeated everything that I had endured; not that I could have seen much as my vision became blurred. I’d done it though. I was so thankful that I’d told Mum in private everything that had happened, but Cole and Jasper didn’t know the details. Nor did the rest of my family or Cole’s.

  I breathed out deeply. Going through it all again felt like being cut open, but I also felt about a stone lighter. It was such a relief when I finished speaking that I almost broke down. Saying those words aloud, I finally heard them properly for the first time: none of the blame was on me, none of it was my fault.

  Letting go of blame was hard, but it was the most incredible feeling in the world. Even if the jury didn’t believe me, I had stood up to my father and that counted for a lot.

  “And was Mr Farrell present every time this abuse took place?”

  I nodded. “Yes. ”

  “Did he ever say anything to you?”

  “No. He occasionally snapped and told me to do as Frank said, but after a while, I learnt that he wasn’t going to help and so I just did what I was told to straight away. ”

  Linda lowered her head, and I think she was telling me not to elaborate too much. I bit my lip.

  “Miss Farrell, why did it take you so long to come forward?”

  It must seem odd to people that I hadn’t spoken out earlier, but I knew this was nothing unusual for someone who’d suffered abuse.

  “I was scared. Scared for my family and scared for myself. ” I ducked my head. “And I wanted him to change. I hoped he would change,” I whispered.

  A tear slid down my cheek and I made no attempt to wipe it away. Admitting that was hard. After everything he had done it was hard to admit that I had still wanted him to be my dad.

  “And what changed your mind?”

  “I realised that it hadn’t stopped. He promised me it had when I was thirteen, and when I was sixteen he said he was taking me away on a fishing trip to make up for what happened. I believed that he wanted to make things right and move on. When Frank – Mr Glosser – turned up, I realised nothing had changed and there was no hope for him. And I couldn’t go through it again. ”

  Linda turned to the judge. “No further questions, Your Honour. ”

  As soon as I stepped outside the room, I felt a rush of oxygen fill my lungs. I closed my eyes and concentrated on relaxing my body, which was knotted with tension.

  “You did great, Oakley,” Linda said softly. “I think your family are waiting for us outside the door. We’ll go out the back way again. ” She squeezed the top of my arm and smiled. “You really did do well. You should be so proud of yourself. ”

  Proud wasn’t something I usually felt, but I did now. “Thank you. Let’s go meet them. ”

  I followed Linda out of the room and into the hallway. Mum, Jasper, Ali, Lizzie and my grandparents were waiting for me. Where was Cole? Even his parents and Mia were here. I stopped and tried to force a smile onto my face.

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  “Oh, sweetheart. ” Mum grabbed me, pulling me into a tight hug. “You were amazing, darling. I’m so proud of you. ”

  “I don’t feel it,” I replied, clenching my shaking hands around her back. Jasper hugged me next, practically pulling me out of Mum’s arms. I sunk into my brother’s embrace, feeling safe and protected.

  “You’re okay now,” he whispered in my ear. I was, almost. There was still one trial to go but for now I had half the weight gone from my shoulders. “Ready to get out of here?”

  I pulled away and smiled in thanks. “Definitely. ” I looked around and the noticed the one other person I needed to see wasn’t there. “Where’s Cole?”

  “He’s outside. He needed some air,” Mum replied.

  My heart stopped. He needed air? That meant he was freaking out. I should have told him everything.

  “We’ll go see him now. ” Mum’s arm remained around my back as we walked to the exit. Linda went out of the front so the press would think I would be following, and hopefully that would give us enough time to get out.

  Jasper walked stiffly. His whole posture was tense and his jaw clenched. I knew he was struggling with what he’d heard in there. Later I would need to sit down and talk to him, apologise for the way he had found everything out, if he would even let me. Jasper was too strong for his own good. All he worried about was me and Mum. I desperately wanted him to open up to me.

  Ali pushed the door open, and everyone instinctively moved closer to me, in case there was any press lurking at the exit. That was when I saw him. Cole leant against the brick wall. A deep frown dominated his face. He looked so tortured it made my heart sink.

  Swallowing the lump in my throat, I pushed past everyone that was in between us. He looked up and pushed himself away from the wall, practically running towards me. Within seconds of us catching sight of each other, I was in his arms, being lifted up.

  “Cole,” I whispered, clinging onto him.

  He gripped me as if he thought he was the only thing keeping me from shattering. I finally cracked, and sobbed into his neck.

  “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” he mumbled into my hair.

  “For what?”

  “For letting that happen to you. I should have known. I should have stopped it. ”

  I pulled back from him a few inches, enough to look directly into his eyes.

  “Don’t. None of it was your fault. Cole, you were just a child yourself. Please don’t ever blame yourself. ”

  His eyes filled with tears, and in that moment I wanted to run back inside and tell them I had made it all up. I wanted to take it all back. I would have done anything to never see him look that painfully sad ever again. “He took pictures of you. ”

  I nodded slowly. “Yes, but it’s going to be okay now. ”

  “Okay?” he repeated.

  “It has to be. I won’t be the victim any more, Cole. There are millions of people in worse situations than I was. I got out, and I survived it. I’m the one that has a future, even if they get out everyone will know what they did. ”

  He shook his head, staring at me with such intensity it made me self-conscious. “You’re amazing. I don’t know how you can be so calm. I want to kill them both. ”

  I shrugged. What other choice did I have? Falling apart wouldn’t solve anything but make me a victim again. I never wanted to be there again. I was going to do everything I could to get them both locked up, and then I was going to carry on with my life and be happy. They were not going to control any part of me ever again.

  “Can we go now?”

  “Of course we can. ” He kissed my damp lips and stroked the side of my face. “I have questions I don’t know if you’ll want to answer, or even know if I want the answers to them. ”

  “I’ll answer whatever you want to know, but right now I just want to get back to Ali’s and have a hot chocolate, or a vodka. Please don’t let them get inside your head. Fuck ’em. ”

  Cole almost smiled; his eyes flicked in shock. “‘Fuck ’em?’ Wow, that was so un-Oakley. ”

  I laughed. “I know, but it made you smile. ”

  “Oakley, Oakley!” My name was screamed by a number of different people I didn’t know. The press was running towards us, holdi
ng up cameras and microphones.

  Before I could blink a car door was opened, and I was being shoved inside. Cole got in and slammed the door.

  “Go,” Mum barked at Jasper, and he slammed his foot on the accelerator. I almost laughed at the theatrics; it felt like we were in an action movie.

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  “Easy, Jasper,” Mum said, after we’d sped out of there like a bat out of hell. “We want to get back in one piece. ”

  “I just want to get her away from that. And anyway, you were the one that ordered me to go!”

  “Well I meant ‘go but go responsibly’. ”

  I laid my head on Cole’s shoulder and smiled at how normal and petty their argument was. Under Mum’s revised instructions, Jasper drove ‘responsibly’ and we arrived home twenty minutes later.

  “I’m going to lie down for a bit,” I said as we walked into Ali’s house. No one argued.

  I climbed straight into my futon bed and pulled the covers over me, needing to hide from everything for a while. My make-up and clothes were still on, but I just didn’t care. I rolled into a ball and allowed the tears to fall. Dragging up those memories made me feel dirty all over again. I hated it.

  Why couldn’t I just have had a normal dad? That was all I wanted, even when it stopped, I still wanted my dad. I really believed it was over, and everything was going to be okay again. I wanted him to love me, as strange as that sounds.

  I just wanted the man back that carried me on his shoulders and played hide and seek with me. I should have known that he hadn’t changed. I should have done so much differently, but I had been stupidly hopeful.

  “Oakley?” Cole’s voice made me cry harder. Go away! I curled into a tighter ball and tensed. The bed dipped, and the covers shifted. His smell filled my lungs, and I needed him more than ever.

  I rolled over and snuggled into him, clinging to his body as if it were my lifeline. He wrapped himself around me, protecting me.

  “Don’t cry,” he pleaded.

  “Do you want to ask me questions?” I whispered.

  “Shh, not now. You’re not ready to talk about it. ” I had a feeling he mentally added, ‘And I’m not ready to hear it. ’ “I love you so much, Oakley. ”

  “I love you too. ” I snuggled even closer and let the quiet thumping of his heart sing me to sleep.

 
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