A WOMAN who was sexually abused by her father and brother - and days before her fourth birthday required an emergency blood transfusion following a brutal attack - is hoping she can help other victims by speaking out about.
Sarah Sidebottom, 54, of Cudworth, first recalls being sexually abused by her father - 74-year-old Arthur William Bowditch - when she was just three-and-a-half years old.
After being abused by him until she was 13 years old, her brother - Arthur Stephen Bowditch - also sexually abused her on a number of occasions.
Sarah, who waived the legal right to anonymity afforded to abuse victims, told the Chronicle: “My earliest memory is when I was about three and I remember being taken out of my bedroom and on to my mum and dad’s bed.
“He covered my mouth and then I remember having an agonising pain in my stomach.
“I then remember standing at the top of the stairs and blood pouring down my leg.
“I was abused so much that I can’t pinpoint every event.
“I witnessed a lot of domestic abuse when I was younger and after my parents split up I went to live with my grandma in Wales whilst my brother lived with my dad.
“When he came back to live with us that’s when he started to rape me.”
She was so badly injured by one of the assaults she received internal injuries and had a blood transfusion.
She was discharged from hospital on her fourth birthday.
Her father had told doctors that she had fallen down the stairs onto the handle of a go-cart - and a medical document shows that those at West Somerset Hospital believed he was telling the truth.
However, it was that same medical document that helped get her justice.
“During Covid I was recovering from pneumonia and I asked for some of my medical records to be sent to me before a chest scan,” she added.
“That letter was in there and I didn’t have any idea about it beforehand.
“It was certainly a shock for me.
“The investigation started in 2019 and they were jailed in June 2022 - it was a horrible ordeal.”
In June last year the pair appeared at Swansea Crown Court - having previously been convicted of multiple counts of rape and indecent assaults against young girls.
Bowditch Senior was sentenced to 21 years in prison whilst his son was jailed for 12 years.
Sarah said that she felt the judge was too lenient on the pair - and that the trial led her to a dark place.
“A part of me felt that there wasn’t any justice there,” she said.
“I wish they’d have just pleaded guilty - the trial was horrendous.
“The ordeal has affected me in so many different ways.
“I had really bad trust issues and I never felt like I’d be able to love anyone.
“I wish I could have a remote control in my brain so I’d be able to shut down that part of my memory.
“The impact of everything is so difficult to explain.”
Her husband, Darren, and Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services (BSARCS) helped her through the horrible situation - which led her to self-harm and attempt suicide on a number of occasions.
“I tried to overdose when I was younger and in 2021,” she said.
“I had it from my dad and then my brother and I just couldn’t handle it.
“You have to try and put these things at the back of your mind but at the trial you just can’t stop thinking about it.
“Darren has been my rock - he’s had to deal with a lot but he’s been with me every step of the way.
“BSARCS were absolutely amazing as well.
“They helped me above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.”
Sarah is hoping by telling her story she will be able to help just one person come forward themselves.
“I want people to understand that no matter how long ago it was, or how difficult it is, that perseverance and patience is key,” she said.
“Victims should be able to speak out about these things and not be ashamed about them.
“If I can help just one person get justice then it will be worth it.”