I'd buried my secret deep. But when I flicked on my favourite soap, I was forced to confront my dark past... By Corrina Busfield 30

We sunk into the sofa and my partner, Ryan, 33, switched on Channel 4, just as the credits started to roll. 

It was a familiar routine. Our daughter, Lula, three, jumped onto my lap and the three of us settled down to watch our favourite soap, Hollyoaks.

But today was different. A storyline was unfolding about Pete Buchanan sexually abusing his step-daughter, Cleo.

As I watched, I felt a sickening knot tighten in my stomach. A dark secret I’d buried since childhood was coming back to haunt me.

Because Cleo’s story was just like mine. My uncle Russell had put me through the same ordeal when I was just a small child.

‘Turn it off!’ I blurted suddenly. ‘This is disgusting.’ Ryan and Cleo turned to face me, shocked. They knew I loved tuning into my daily episode of Hollyoaks.

I ran to the bedroom and slammed the door shut. ‘What is it Corrina, what’s wrong?’ Ryan pleaded. I eventually came out but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth.

And as the storyline unravelled over the coming weeks, I kept having to leave the room. It got to the point where I could barely stand to watch my favourite soap.

Ryan was bemused. ‘Come on, whatever it is, you know you can tell me,’ he quizzed gently. I hadn’t told a soul about what my uncle Russell did to me all those years earlier but suddenly, the floodgates opened.

I watched as Ryan’s face turned to horror as I told him my story.

As a kid, visiting my nan at the weekend used to be the highlight of my week. She’d take me on day trips while my parents worked, and I loved spending time with her.

But her son, my uncle Russell, gave me the creeps. He’d sit on his own listening to classical music and something about him made me feel uneasy.

I was six when he kissed me on the lips while nan was busy making my tea. I didn’t know what to make of it but as soon as Nan came back in the room, Uncle Russell darted off.

Then one day, Russell sat me on the bed, took my hand and placed it on his private parts. I didn’t like it, and it felt wrong, but how could it be if uncle Russell said it was fine?

I loved messing around in Nan’s room, putting on her old dresses and make-up and prancing around, but my uncle would follow me in and make me touch him.

Uncle Russell would try to kiss me anytime Nan would go out of the room, or even just look away. Then anytime we were upstairs alone, he would grab my hand and force it onto his penis.

‘Why don’t we take the dog for a walk?’ uncle Russell would suggest, turning to me. ‘That’s a nice idea, a bit of fresh air for both of you,’ Nan smiled.

But inwardly, I’d wince. Because as soon as we were outside, at the allotment, or in the greenhouse, Russell would abuse me.

Sometimes this would happen five or six times a day. I’d never liked it but as I got older, I began to realise what he was doing was wrong.

I became clever at making sure I was never alone with him. By the time I was 11, I was out seeing my friends, so I had the excuse to avoid going to see my nan, and uncle Russell.

It was painful to neglect Nan. She must have thought I’d outgrown her, but the truth was, I just couldn’t face her sick son.

On the odd occasion I did go and see her, I was strong enough to face down Russell. I was 13 when he tried to touch my bum. I grabbed his hand and gave him such a look, I knew he’d never bother me again.

I really wanted to tell someone about the abuse, but I never found the right moment. And in time, I vowed to bury my secret deep inside.

As I hit my teens, I was terrible with boyfriends. I just couldn’t trust anyone. But meeting Ryan changed my life.

And right now, he was my rock. ‘We have to go to the police,’ he begged. ‘What your uncle did was so wrong.’ I tried to protest, still worried about how it would affect my family.

But Ryan wasn't taking no for an answer, and the next morning he frogmarched me to up the local police station.

After an exhausting interview, I saw my mum. ‘Oh love, I had no idea,’ she sobbed. That was the worst part. She blamed herself for letting me stay there, but it was no one else’s fault but Russell’s.

The police interviewed Russell and charged him. The date was set for the trial, but my ordeal was far from over.

My nan, who had been like a second mother to me, disowned me. She couldn’t believe her beloved son could do such horrific things.

It was devastating to lose such an important person in my life, but by now I was so determined. I had to see it through.

At the trial in May 2017, Russell claimed I was making it all up, that he had nothing to do with me growing up and never went near me.


I was boiling with rage and after the day’s evidence, Mum and I rushed home and scoured the house until we found the proof that would nail him.

The next day in court, the prosecution held up a photo we had found of me as a child sitting on Russell’s lap, smiling innocently.

The pictures framed Russell, and later that day the jury unanimously convicted him of seven counts of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 16, and jailed him for three years.

I didn’t get to see his face as the judge passed sentence, but I heard the anguish in his voice as he tried to deny what was so plainly true.

He had tormented me, but now he was just a sad old man, finally facing justice over his past.

The stress of the trial took its toll on my relationship and Ryan and I separated, but finally I had justice.

I’ve lost the nan who I grew up with, who’s never accepted the the truth. It’s a heavy price to pay for justice, but one that I’d do again if I had to.

Now I’m moving on, thanks to that incriminating photo, and a storyline in my favourite soap.

My sick uncle Russell concocted a shady story but he was forgetting one thing - the camera never lies.

Corrina wanted to support and inspire other victims of sexual abuse when she approached the team at Sell My Story. We sold her story to a national women's magazine, raising awareness of this important issue. If you want to highlight a cause or campaign, call us on 0117 973 3730 to find out more.


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