Abuse victim thought violence 'was love'

Abuse victim thought violence 'was love'

A young woman who suffered horrific sexual exploitation as a teenager has spoken out about the cruel treatment at the hands of her abuser in order to help other victims.

Laura Forrest endured horrendous sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the man who preyed on her vulnerability.In 2006, Laura was 15 and a troubled teenager in care. She began a toxic relationship with Rodney Joseph Campbell, from Sperrin Road in Limavady, Co Londonderry.He was violent towards her from the start, head-butting her while she was still staying in secure accommodation."I didn't know any different anyway from growing up, so I thought this was love," she told UTV's Sharon O'Neill.When Laura moved into Campbell's bungalow the abuse became worse."That was the worst time, I think it was because I was all his then. There was nothing to actually stop it," she said."It was just the worst time. But I still believed that he loved me."Eventually through time I thought the more you actually get battered, the more it was love.Laura ForrestLaura's life quickly descended down a path of sexual depravity, humiliation and almost daily beatings.One night Campbell smashed a glass over head but wouldn't let her get help.She was only allowed to go to the hospital after he had made up the excuse that she had fallen in the bathroom and hit her head.Laura said: "They couldn't give me any pain relief. I got staples in, the whole time whenever they were putting the staples into my head, I couldn't believe I'd let it go that far, but I still couldn't get away from him."She said on one occasion he had dipped her head in cooking oil while he was fighting with her before forcing her into sex."I felt dirty and disgusting, but he didn't care. He just liked taking anything away from me."As a desperate attempt to keep her abuser away, Laura began self-harming."If I had cut myself even worse, then he had to stop because I would have to go to hospital and get stitches, so at that time I felt that this was the right thing to do," she explained."It stopped the beatings because I had to go to hospital."In 2009, after three years of suffering and at the age of 18, after an horrific act of violence, Laura tried to take her own life.But while in hospital, she decided to fight for her life and for justice.Her campaign ended on 8 January at Londonderry Crown Court where Campbell, now aged 44, was sentenced to 12 years in jail after pleading guilty to 19 charges of sexual abuse.He will also be subject to a Sex Offender's Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offender's Register for life.Judge Philip Babington questioned the role of the care system and said Campbell had treated Laura "as his own personal plaything and subjected her to gratuitous violence of the very worst type".The 22-year-old has waived her right to anonymity in order to encourage other victims of abuse to speak out."It could be financial, sexual, emotional, physical, speak out before they do damage you permanently," she said."You have to escape out of it."


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