I have been advised to hide the names of the abusers and the abused here except myself for protection and for legal reasons. So, the names of everyone here will be changed but if you are clever you can decode the name of the abusing family – that is if you lived locally and knew them or knew of them.
It is very difficult to remember exactly at what age the sexual abuse began but I was certainly attending Longroyde Junior School…..
I suppose I was 8 or 9 years old…..
As stated in the previous chapter we were living on Rastrick Common but the ‘Heathholme’ family lived on a nearby street…..
Across from the ‘Heathholme’ home was a row of derelict houses now pulled down, which were owned by a local company which still exists today. This is where most of the forced fellatio, etc took place – in a dark closet in one of the upstairs bedrooms. How weird – as I am typing this the smell has just returned to me almost 50 years later.
At this point the abuse was perpetrated by ‘Simeon’ who was the 15/16 year old brother of one of my best friends from school whom I will call ‘Delia’. I would like to state that she was totally unaware of what was going on until later when I just couldn’t put up with it anymore. I had told her that he would take me upstairs to his bedroom when no-one was home and take all my clothes off and make me say dirty words as well as other sexual acts. I remember once she threatened to tell him what I had accused him of because, of course she couldn’t believe it. I begged her not to. And, I don’t think she ever did.
At one point ‘Simeon’ had told ‘Delia’ that she mustn’t see me even though we went to the same school and walked there together. One day he saw us walking to school and shouted something like ‘I thought I told you not to fucking see him any more!’ at her and then smashed her in nose – there was blood everywhere. Now, I don’t know why we couldn’t go to school or play together – was it jealousy on his part, perhaps?
There was a Mother to this family and another son too but again they were not complicit in what was going on. At this point there wasn’t a Father.
Of course, I couldn’t tell anyone about this – I didn’t even know what it was at 8 or 9. However, it has followed me all my life especially when one hears that the ‘abused become abusers’ in a lot of cases. Blimey! I can safely say that I have no sexual feelings for children and when I read or hear about it going on in makes my blood boil.
Being from Yorkshire or indeed the North of England I have tended in the past 16 years of living in London to say ‘hello!’ to people but this being the rudest and most inhospitable city I have ever lived in I have to rein myself in.
A few years ago when I had my little Jack Russell Terrier, Lily who loved everyone and wouldn’t hurt a fly – she was running around and two children of an extremely young age suddenly appeared unattended by any adult running around on Rush Common (this next to the busy London to Brighton Road too!) where I live. The smallest of the two accidentally fell on top of Lily and she reacted like any dog and jumped at the child and so I panicked and rushed over to help the child up and see how he/ she was and then I realised that one does not do that in London or anywhere these days in this paranoid world (said the paranoid person!). So, I let the child go and I can tell you I panicked all the way home and for a few days afterwards just in case I had been seen picking this child up from the ground and what I was doing had been misconstrued.
Another example is that again with Lily – two young girls who lived on my estate would ask if they could take her for walks and being the innocent I am I allowed them to and gave them a couple of pounds each time in appreciation. In the end they became quite persistent and then an older lady friend of mine who was walking Lily one time bumped into them and she advised me to stop allowing them to walk the dog to protect myself. I knew what she meant. It only need some kind of accusation and one is tarred for life and being gay would compound any accusation. Again, the panic set in and I had to tell the girls their dog-walking days were over.
Very recently, I was with a group of people some of whom I knew slightly more than others and I asked where the loo was – I was asked by one person in the group if, when I found the loo would I take her young son with me too. I blanked it and ignored it! Not because I am scared of any feelings I have because I haven’t but because it all rings a bell as big as the ones that ring in Notre Dame Cathedral.
‘Simeon’ used to take me to the family’s outside toilet which was through an arched passage-way at the back of their house in Rastrick………no inside toilets where we lived in those days!
I think I did try to avoid ‘Simeon’ – I hope I did. But I could have easily have done so- so, why did I keep putting myself in danger?
I wonder if it was because there were no men in my family (no Father, no Grandfathers no Uncles, etc), except for the negative force of my Mother’s partner that I looked on this as some kind of affection? I don’t know even after all these years of trying to analyse it……
There was a time that my Mother did find out something…..a few of us kids had been playing on Bramston Street Rec. (short for ‘Recreation Ground’) – it was on what we called the ‘top rec’ which was the grassy field where football and the likes were played usually and we were playing a game called ‘Kiss Touch’ and ‘Simeon’ caught me and gave me the biggest love-bite on my neck (I just thought it was a long kiss – at that age I didn’t know what a love-bite was!) which my Mother saw when I got home. I remember her shouting and swearing and lunging at me and hitting me hard with this huge plastic comb and boy did it hurt as it always did when my Mother got angry and hit us. I tried telling her what had gone on and did name the person who had done it and the game we were playing. If she had done something more positive and pro-active the sexual abuse would have stopped there and then! But, she didn’t and it did!
Bramston Street Rec (Recreational grounds). Three recs in all. At bottom centre of the photo is the large grassy ‘top rec’; where the trees are clustered around the grey area is the ‘middle rec’ and the ‘bottom rec’ is where the children’s playground with swings is and where the photograph of us on ‘the rant’ is taken at the beginning of ‘Chapter 5’. The building at top right of photo with the red roof used to be the St John Ambulance Hall when I was a kid but now it’s a chapel of rest.
(thanks to Google Maps for the photo)
One day the ‘Heathholme’ Father returned from ‘being at sea’ possibly the ‘Merchant Navy’ was the reason given. I was to find out later that this was euphemism for being in prison.
He was a horrible man with a red, veiny nose and one day well after Christmas I always remember in the front room of the ‘Heathholme’ house they still had their ‘trimmings’ (decorations) up and over the gas-fire hearth on the chimney-breast was a shape made out of paper trimmings in the shape of two ‘U’ s about which ‘Mr Heathholme’ asked me ‘Don’t you think they look like a pair of woman’s tits?’…now, every time I see decorations in this shape I think of this day. I think this is why I can’t have as big a snigger at bawdy jokes as most other people. It is awful because I get upset. I can be bawdy myself but I think it is me trying to be bawdy and that is why it never works or doesn’t come out funny because of what is lying dormant underneath.
This very same day in the same front room was my best friend ‘Delia’ and another local girl ‘Wilma’ – I am not sure if anyone else was there but ‘Wilma’ was stood behind an armchair or a high-backed chair because ‘Mr Heathholme’ took out his member and asked us to hold it. He then made his daughter, ‘Delia’ hold it and said something like ‘Look, Delia is not scared!’ I can’t remember what ‘Wilma’ did but I was dragged upstairs and my trousers taken down and even though I wasn’t buggered he stuck his member between my legs as I lay over the bed and he ‘orgasmed’ over me!
Meanwhile the abuse with the son was still going on. I remember he would take me up to one of the bedrooms (as stated before) or the derelict houses and on other occasions I was told to strip and was made to shout out dirty words like ‘Shag!’; ‘Fuck!’ etc. When I said I wouldn’t he threatened to call his sister, my friend ‘Delia’ to come upstairs and see me naked so I said them.
I can remember when the abuse stopped….we were playing in the holly bushes on the Red or Middle Rec and something happened where ‘Simeon’ produced a knife to my throat and I summoned up courage from somewhere and shouted ‘Go on, fucking do it! Go on kill me!’ I don’t if I was playing out with ‘Delia’ and he wanted me away with or what but I can tell you looking back that was very strong of a 9 year old boy back then….
Of course, he didn’t stab me and he never touched me again and I never told anyone about what had gone on for 30 plus years……I found out recently that the sister of the girl ‘Wilma’ above was also sexually abused in my area but by someone completely different.
At the same time as all my abuse was going on we had a ‘flasher’ on the recreation grounds where all the kids played who was eventually apprehended by a plain-clothes police-woman. We found out he was married with kids and he wasn’t very old either – probably in his twenties.
When the ‘Heathholmes’ moved to another house about half a mile away I still saw ‘Delia’ because I remember visiting and the Father showing me photos of naked women….but, after the knife incident that was it……..
Now, what I cannot figure out is – why did I keep going back – did I enjoy the abuse? Was it attention seeking? There certainly was no love at home and certainly no hugs or tender physical contact. There certainly was violence both verbal as well as physical at home.
If I hated it all so much why am I gay????
Of course, at the time I blamed the abuse for me being gay and, maybe I still do but even though I had a relatively easy ‘coming out’ in secret I still hated the ‘Heathholmes’ and still do for what they did to me.
When I was about 16/17 or so I don’t know if I had left home or was just staying there….I remember my Mother coming home from shopping in Huddersfield and saying ‘You’ll never guess who I have just seen in ‘a certain shop’ in Huddersfield – ‘Simeon Heathholme’ – he’s the Manager!’……..
I went to the telephone box outside our house on Clough Lane and called ‘the shop’ – I was fuming – I asked to speak to the Manager…..I remember them saying that they didn’t have a manager only a manageress so, I asked for him by name…..he came to the phone and I hurled abuse down the phone at him blaming him for my being queer and he kept asking “Who is this?” and I just told him to cast his mind back. Then I hung up with a bang but the venom hadn’t left me so I called back and hurled more abuse at him…….
I have never heard of him or any of his family since. So, if it was when I was 16/ 17 that means it was 1970/1…..but I have never forgotten him or his father…..