“HE robbed me of my childhood.”
Anne Cuthill was just four years old when she was abused by serial paedophile Brian Jeffries.
Today, aged 46, Anne, breaks her silence to tell her heart-wrenching story.
Waiving her right to anonymity, the Penshaw mum-of-two has spoken out in the hope that other victims of child abusers find courage in her words.
As a close family friend, Jeffries, who was jailed for three-and-a-half years earlier this month, was trusted by Anne’s parents to care for her while they were at work.
But he betrayed that trust and lured Anne upstairs in his home. There he carried out a string of sex attacks on the innocent youngster that have scarred her for life.
The abuse continued for three years.
“I was so young when he did this to me but he made me feel older,” Anne said. “He robbed me of my childhood.
“I have no memories of being a child at all, my only memories are of abuse.
“I don’t remember being cuddled by my mum and dad or even being told I was loved, when I know I was. That’s really sad.”
At the age of 20, Anne confided in her mum but swore her to secrecy as she attempted to carry on with her life.
But in 2008, as she cradled her precious two-year-old granddaughter in her arms, brave Anne knew she had to take action.
“My granddaughter is my life. I was holding her in my arms and I burst into tears. I thought ‘this was me in a year’s time’ and it really hit me.
“I couldn’t imagine something like that happening at that age because in my head I was always an adult.
“I looked at her and just thought about what he was doing to me at that age. I knew I had to do something.”
Determined to fight for justice, two days later Anne went to the police station and pressed charges.
“I was the calmest I’ve ever been and I knew then that it was the right thing to do,” Anne said.
Since then, Anne has been on a “rollercoaster ride” of emotions with court proceedings dragging on over four years.
Another three women came forward to say Jeffries, 69, of Lime Street, Waldridge Village, had carried out similar attacks on them in the 1970s.
And earlier this month, Jeffries, who lived in Shiney Row at the time of the attacks, admitted the offences and was jailed.
Anne, who is now married and has two children aged 26 and 21, said: “When he got sentenced the feeling was unbelievable, I felt so at peace.
“I feel now that I can start the healing process but this will never leave the victims. It will never leave me or the other women.
“I now feel this is finally over as best as it possibly can be as it will never leave my head. It is in my memory.
“I hope this will encourage anyone who has been through what I have to have the strength to come forward.”
Anne would like to thank family and friends, especially Melanie Sloanes, who have supported her.