By Jon Brindley - Staff Author
A courageous young woman has spoken publicly for he first time making sensational claims she was sexually abused by prominent men in the Republic of Ireland, including politicians, police and social workers, over a five-year period.
Sonya, who lives in Cork, tells Caroline Stephens in a live video interview broadcast on Monday (Jan 28), claims that she was used in paedophile and trafficking rings from the age of 16 to 21.
The abuse occurred after she was placed in the hands of social services in the mid 1990s.
She further alleges that, after she took her allegations of rape and other sexual offences to the police, witnesses were interviewed by a police officer who was also one of those she accused.
Today she believes that she is the target of a vicious bullying campaign after naming some of the alleged abusers on Facebook a few weeks ago.
This week she was facing a court case that could result in a gagging order being made against her – as well as a hurtful reunion with a former senior social worker whom she says was her main abuser.
The interview, part of Caroline Stephens’ Speaking the Truth series, begins at around 19 minutes 55 seconds.
An at first nervous Sonia explains that she has never given an interview before and adds: “For a long time I remained quiet because I was afraid to speak out.”
She is now calling for other victims come together and wants legislation put in place to ensure people, like her, are not sued and targeted after they have made their allegations public
“One honest voice is special moving forward in getting the truth out there,” she says.
“Abusers build on silence. I can’t shut up any more… I can’t close my eyes knowing what I know - there’s been too many people hurt; social services, Irish Police, it’s coming from the highest level.”
“I’m going against the system…I just can’t keep quiet any more
“What we endured should never have happened. We were already so broken, we came from broken families We trusted the state to look after us – and we weren’t looked after.”
Sonya explains that the abuse began after she was put into foster care.
She had five sets of foster parents within two years, but her problems became worse after a senior social worker – who now lives in Australia – put her in an independent house share with men aged between 18 and 52 years when she was just 16 years old.
Here she claims she was brutally sexually attacked by one of the other residents which resulted in her giving birth to a child who was then ‘illegally’, she says, taken off her.
She did not see her son again until he was 18 years old when they were reunited through social media.
Sonya explains that the social worker, whom she liked and trusted at first, groomed her before abusing her and introducing her to other men.
“I didn’t know it was grooming at the time. I just thought he was being nice,” she says
“I was under the age of consent when he started abusing me.
“The things he did to me I knew were wrong I was afraid to speak out – touching me inappropriately or forcing himself on me without my consent.
Sonya added that this sometimes occurred in the social worker’s office and after he had collected her from school
“When I said ‘no’ he wouldn’t stop, and it went on and went on…
“I was also handed out to other men.
“In the worst of it we were being used sand repeatedly raped; I couldn’t walk I was in so much pain and he didn’t care. To him it was just money, it was greed…”
Sonya explained that after she became 18, she was still unable to get away from the abusers.
Then she was transferred to an independent house flat. “I was moved from a paedophile ring to a trafficking ring,” she claims.
“Our choices were taken from us - we had no choices. My passport was taken,” she says.
“I was told what to wear and what to eat; this was all I knew. I hadn’t got family support.
“My only support came from the rape crisis centre in Cork.”
Sonya goes on to highlight how after rebuilding her own life – she now has more children and is a qualified social worker – her bid to get justice have repeatedly hit a brick wall.
At one stage she joined the political party Sinn Fein and asked them to support her case.
But she says they misplaced her trust and added: “Of the people who abused me, some turned out to be members of Sinn Fein.
“I was eventually expelled for speaking out about bullying from within the party.”
Her allegations to the police didn’t result in a prosecution despite Sonia arguing that the detective she claimed abused her should be taken off the case.
“A lot of evidence was either overlooked or went missing,” she said.
Then three years ago she approached the Minister for Children and members of the Irish Parliament but ended up being labelled a ‘fantasist and a liar’.
“I have had doors slammed in my face, every door. I have had ministers turn a blind eye, the Irish Prime Minister turn a blind eye, the Irish media slam doors in my face because it is state connected – if it is state connected, they won’t touch it.”
She has now been suspended from her practice as a social worker and seen her own young children subjected to long interviews after making her Facebook claims.
“I was whistleblowing on my own profession,” she says.
“Although I’m suspended, I still have a duty of care to get my voice heard and get justice.
“All I want to do is get my case highlighted… I am fed up with going around in circles…sick and tired of it.
“Abusers are bringing me to court because I publicly named them on January 8. I have been accused of defaming their character and being a danger to their careers.
“I became so numb, I was like a robot. I became paralysed.; these men hide behind their jobs, their titles…they are educated men against someone from a broken home, who is a judge going to believe?”
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