A Kettering woman who was raped and sexually abused as a child has spoken out about her ordeal.
Ruth Abrahams, 44, was abused by her grandfather and raped by a peer aged 13.
But now she’s learning to thrive and on Sunday – one day after her 45th birthday – she will run the London Marathon to raise money for the NSPCC.
Ruth, who waived her right to anonymity to speak out, said: “I was sexually abused as a child by my mum’s father from when I was quite young until the age of 10.
“I can’t remember when it started.
“My earliest memories of the abuse date to when I was about five years old.
“I remember things weren’t quite right then.
“The memories got locked away – I blocked out the abuse – but it always happened when we went to visit him.”
Ruth became a rebellious teenager and says she was raped at the age of 13 at a disco for teenagers.
She blamed herself for ‘being promiscuous’ but when she plucked up the courage to tell someone, no action was taken.
She said: “A year later, I told a teacher at school that I had been forced to have sex.
“She took me to her house and phoned the Samaritans.
“She listened to me but nothing was followed up. My parents weren’t called in or spoken to.
“Looking back, I had a lot of anger bubbling inside me.”
Still just 13, Ruth attempted suicide on a family holiday in Spain.
She later moved to a Kibbutz in Israel before moving back to the UK.
In 1999, she moved in with a new boyfriend and his family.
But memories of abuse came flooding back.
Ruth said: “All the memories suddenly came alive.
“It all came flooding back, and I had several suicide attempts.
“But what kept me going through these dark times was my dog – every time I saw him I realised I’d be leaving him alone, and I couldn’t go ahead with it.
“For the first time, I spoke about my experience of child sexual abuse to the mother of my boyfriend. I was in a very poor mental state at the time and she and my boyfriend realised they couldn’t cope with me, so the family asked me to leave their home.
“I was hospitalised for a week at a mental hospital, where I was put on all sorts of tablets.
“But the sheer quantity of drugs caused several side effects.
“Psychiatry and tablets weren’t what I needed at the time. I needed to speak about the abuse and have proper therapy.”
For many in Ruth’s situation, getting back on track could have been a lost cause. But Ruth refused to let her past win.
She applied to do a PGCE, landed a job as a teacher and became head of science within three years.
Support from her school and a life coach has made her thrive and she says she’s reassured by the amount of safeguarding at schools today.
Ruth said: “As a teacher, I have to sit through the safeguarding training every year and hear about the signs and symptoms to look for that could suggest a child has been or is being sexually abused.
“The existence of this safeguarding and seeing that schools are now so cautious, protective and knowledgeable about the signs of abuse is so reassuring.
“I know that any concerns are taken very seriously and dealt with.
“I wish processes like that had been in place during my early years.
“Perhaps then I would have received help when I was younger, rather than being left to struggle through my teens, 20s and 30s in such challenging circumstances.
“Coping has made me stronger – made me who I am – but it was tough. In fact, I’m truly lucky I’m still alive.”
She’s now running the famous 26.2-mile route 14 years after her first marathon in Beachy Head, which she completed in five-and-a-half hours.
She says she’s approaching marathon fitness, running for an hour before work twice a week before a longer run to increase her stamina each Sunday.
She hopes that by raising money for the NSPCC, she can play her part in ending child abuse.
Ruth said: “Compared to the emotional pain I have experienced, I can easily endure the physical pain of the marathon.
“While running keeps my fitness and my mental health in check, I want to see an end to child abuse.
“I want children with abusive pasts to receive appropriate therapeutic intervention when they are young and I want it to continue to support them into adulthood.
“I want more understanding and support for people who have been abused, without label or stigma.
“It is very hard to live as an adult after being sexually abused as a child.
“After 30 years since the abuse, I’m still learning how to enjoy life.”
To donate to Ruth’s cause, click here.