'I hate my body': Victim of alleged rape tells court of abuse at the hands of her cousin

As the trial of a 25-year-old man accused of raping his cousin continues, the court hears how the then 10-year-old girl was repeatedly abused over a period of seven years

The now 16-year-old girl gave candid testimony of the alleged sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her cousin
The now 16-year-old girl gave candid testimony of the alleged sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her cousin

A judge hearing evidence in the trial of a young man accused of raping his underage cousin has heard the girl give candid testimony about the alleged incident. The now 16-year-old girl took the stand late yesterday afternoon.

This is the first trial being presided by Madam Justice Scerri Herrera since she was elevated to the bench. She will be deciding the case without a jury at the request of the defence.

She started off by explaining why she had only spoken out after seven years of abuse.

“I didn’t have the courage and didn’t want to break up the family,” she said as she testified via videoconferencing.   
The girl told the judge that the abuse would happen in various rooms at her grandmother’s house.

“He would make me touch his private parts and move my hand up and down...We would be on a bed. I would be staying there [at the house] and have nowhere to sleep but in his bed.”

The abuse would take place once or twice a month, she said. “One time he told me not to tell anyone. I only remember once…I was afraid that I would be shouted at or that the family would get broken up. I didn’t have enough courage also.”

“The last time it happened there were two cousins with us, but normally we would be alone.”

On that last occasion, she had been in bed with her two younger cousins asleep on her arm. The accused was playing a playstation game, waiting for a phone call. Then he got into bed and covered himself with the blanket.

“He raised his knee and made a triangle with the blanket,” she explained. “Then he held my hand and I started to resist. The children were awake. He held my hand again and tapped it. That was a sign he had made over the years for me to touch his private parts.”

“I tried to resist as much as I could without alerting the children. Then he put my hand on his genitals, under his clothes. I left my hand there and he started tapping on my hand to move it up and down but I did nothing. After five to 10 minutes he received the phone call he was waiting for. I pulled my hand back and he dressed and left.”

The girl was asked about an incident where she had approached him. “Yes. It was much before, years.”

“We were in a bedroom. He was moving my hand up and down on his private part. I gave him a hint to touch my private parts and I regret it. He did what I wanted him to do and touched my private parts.”

The witness then described how she was raped in the washroom. “He had bent me over the washing machine, pulled down my shorts and panty and put his private part inside my vagina. I said ‘ouch’ and he got scared of the noise I was making. “

“I was ten. He was 17.”

The accused had tried to have sex with the child again on another occasion but she said she hadn’t allowed him to.

“I swear oath upon oath that this happened. There were people who said that I was making it up but it’s true.”

Although no oral sex took place, the accused would try to get the girl to do it, she said.

He would ask her to masturbate him, from when she was aged eight till the age of 11 or 12, she said.

The girl said she wasn’t close to her parents and rather than speak to them, she would open up to her aunt. However, she hadn’t told her about the accused as she wouldn’t believe her, as in fact happened.

She hadn’t done any of the things she had done with her cousin with her boyfriends, she said.

The girl said she had summoned the courage to come forward thanks to her current boyfriend.

“At age 13, 14 ,15 I would cry at night, I’d put my face in the pillow so no one would hear me.”

“Naturally, the body would enjoy these things but my mind didn’t,” said the girl, candidly.

She would hide the fact that he abused her, she said, and the effort had drained her mentally and depressed her, she said. “I’d cry a lot.”

“I faked a smile for seven years,” she said. “I have a lot of guilt. My self-esteem is very low. I hate my body.”

Defence questions claim of low self esteem

Under Cross-examination, she was asked if she danced. She said she would during the period of the abuse. It was suggested that this meant that she might not have had such a low self-esteem at the time.

Dancing would alleviate her sadness for an hour, she replied.

Asked how come her family had no idea she was sad over seven years, the girl answered that “I would hide it well.”

Defence lawyer Franco Debono asked why her Facebook profile picture was of her drinking a cocktail through a straw, eyes closed with the caption. “I’ve got a good heart. But this mouth…”

Despite objections from the prosecution, the court asked the girl to explain. “I have a good heart, but when I’m angry I can say some things and can be sassy.”

She was pouting and pretending to drink the cocktail, she said.

This didn’t seem compatible with low self esteem, observed lawyer Marion Camilleri.

“I need to have make up and I’d take a hundred pictures before I post one,” said the girl.

“I was happy dancing. I would put everything out of my mind and dance to the music...I’m not someone who wants to be sad 24/7. I want to be happy.”

The young girl said she missed her grandmother, “but not what would happen at her house.”

But she had never told her mother that she didn’t want to go to her grandmother, observed the defence.

Camilleri asked why she hadn’t told the magistrate about the time that she had made advances to the accused. The girl said she was under the impression that she had.

“Why doesn’t anyone from your family believe you?” asked the lawyer, but the girl only replied that “they ostracised us because they didn’t believe me.”

The defence lawyer asked her final question. “You were face down. How do you know that it was his penis that penetrated you?” “I don’t know, it was bigger than his finger,” she replied.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Anita Giordmaina are defending the accused.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb, Nadia Attard and Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting.

The trial continues.

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