'˜Now that my abuser is dead I can get on with my life'
A young woman who was abused by her grandad says she can look ahead to her future now he has died while serving his prison sentence.
Melissa Fox, who waived her anonymity to share her story, said she hoped to encourage other sexual abuse victims to come forward and report their ordeals.
The 20-year-old initially blocked out what happened to her but said that was a mistake and that all abusers should be reported.
As previously reported in The News, Melissa’s grandad Edwin Gallienne was sentenced to 12 years in prison in August 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and rape of a child under 13.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed Gallienne, 76, died in HMP Swaleside on January 14.
Speaking to The News, Melissa, from Gosport, said: ‘At first, I didn’t really have a reaction when we were told he had died.
‘Initially I didn’t know how he had died and wasn’t sure if he had committed suicide and at that time I was disappointed he wouldn’t be able to finish the sentence.
‘But I was also upset for other family members who were having a hard time over his death.
‘After a while though, it was a wave of relief that he was never going to get out and I wouldn’t ever see him in the street.’
Melissa, who was 18 when Gallienne was sentenced, attended the court hearing and she said seeing him being imprisoned was the first step for her recovering from years of abuse.
‘After the day he was sentenced I was facing what had happened fully for the first time,’ she added.
‘For me, it was reliving it.
‘I had been able to block out those memories but now it was all flooding back. It was really hard to cope with.
‘I had closed it up and could act like it never happened. I could have lived a normal life and then everything came out.
‘But now, I know I made a mistake ignoring it and I want other women who are victims of sexual abuse to speak out.
‘Even if people don’t want to talk to a parent or a friend there is always someone who will listen. Whether that someone is a teacher or Childline.
‘It doesn’t matter if the abuse was last week, last year or 40 years ago, you still need to get the abusers punished.
‘They need to be put away because it stops them doing it to other people.
‘You never know how many people they have abused. Recently there have been a lot of cases that have come out but also a number of people abused by one person.
‘There are possibilities they are doing it to someone else.
‘It is about protecting the next generation.’
Melissa admitted that for some time she blamed herself and said she was still finding it difficult to cope.
She added: ‘I should be able to release everything that’s happened through him dying but I am still not coping.
‘It is still all very emotional and all very raw.’
Melissa said she had blocked out a lot of her childhood but, from the court charges, knew the abuse started when she was aged around seven.
She said he would babysit her and ‘take any chance he had’ while attending family parties.
Gallienne stopped the abuse when she was 13 and, four years later, was hauled in for questioning by police. It was during the interview that he admitted abusing Melissa.
She said: ‘I didn’t say anything at first. I didn’t tell anyone it had happened.
‘He had admitted doing things to me while being questioned by police.
‘The next day the officers came to speak to me but it was as if the police interview never happened, weeks afterwards I still acted like none of it had ever happened.
‘During the court case I was finding out new information that he had said and in detail what he had done.
‘That’s when I started learning about things that I didn’t even know about.
‘I shut down from that point.’
But now Melissa is hoping to move on with her life and is looking forward to her future with partner Lee.
They are planning a wedding and Melissa is hoping to carry on a hairdressing apprenticeship.
She said: ‘When it all came out I was doing a hairdressing apprenticeship but I shut down for a while and couldn’t retain information or concentrate.
‘I fell out of love with hairdressing. But now I am trying to move on and find someone who will take me on so I can get back into hairdressing and finish my qualification.
‘I want to get into a job doing something I once really enjoyed.
‘I am also planning a wedding with my partner Lee so there are plans I can concentrate on and help me begin to cope.’