Real Life

Real life: I was groomed by my predatory paedophile stepdad

'Christopher moved Mum out so he could have his way with me.'

By As told to Take 5

Megan Stevenson, 18, shares her shocking true life story;

The sun shone brightly and I giggled as I ran towards the swings.
I'd gone to the park with my mum, Leanne, and her boyfriend, Christopher.
Mum was squealing like a kid as Chris spun her around in a hug. She and Christopher had met on a night out when I was seven.
He quickly moved in with us and I even called him 'Dad'.
My biological father had left when I was very little so I loved seeing Mum happy.
Two years later, I was chief bridesmaid when Mum and Chris married.
I wore a white sleeveless dress with a matching headband.
Over the next few years, Chris treated me like his own daughter.
One Valentine's Day, he bought Mum and me a huge bouquet of flowers each.
It was such a sweet gesture, but Mum frowned when she saw Chris give me flowers.
She's just jealous, I thought.
When I was 12 years old, Chris's behaviour started to change.
Once, when I was alone with him, he pulled me into the kitchen.
Horrified, the hairs on my arms stood up.
"You can call me Chris when we're alone," he said.
Nervously, I nodded.
As a bridesmaid at their wedding - I was thrilled for mum.
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From then on, he showered me with gifts including clothes and a Pandora bracelet.
"He never buys me anything," Mum said in a huff.
Every weekend, we snuggled together on the couch watching movies.
But one evening when Mum was upstairs having a bath, Chris put his hand down my top.
Then he groped my privates.
Eventually, he kissed me, using his tongue.
"No," I spluttered, pushing him off and he skulked away.
For the next week, he barely said a word to me.
Tensions between Mum and Chris were sky high.
They were constantly arguing.
"Your mum doesn't care about you," he told me one day. "She doesn't want you."
"You're lying," I said, but doubts formed in my head.
Over the ensuing weeks Mum became more agitated.
Then one day I came home and she wasn't there.
"She's moved out," Chris said. "It's just us now, Meggy."
I was shocked but admitted things were calmer with her gone; there was less arguing.
He deliberately drove a wedge between me and Mum.
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Two weeks later, we were in the living room when Chris handed me a glass of cola.
I took a large gulp, then spat it out.
"It's got vodka in it," he smiled.
I didn't want to drink it but didn't want to upset him.
Minutes later, my head felt woozy.
Suddenly, Chris lunged at me.
He pulled down my pyjamas and forced himself inside me.
Pain seared through my body as the man I called Dad raped me.
I was just 13.
Afterwards, he left me shaking on the couch.
Next morning, I felt nauseous and my body ached all over.
"Chris, last night…" I stammered.
"No-one will believe you," he said. "Best you keep quiet about it."
I figured he was right.
The following weekend, Chris gave me another drink.
Again I got drunk.
The next thing I remember I woke up and it was morning.
I had no memory of the evening before.
My privates felt sore and I had spots of blood in my knickers.
Over the next three years, he raped me every weekend.
In this time, I had very little contact with Mum.
Then one day Chris announced that he'd been given legal guardianship over me.
Mum was deemed unfit to look after me.
Me before the abuse began - I was a normal, happy kid.
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Suddenly, I felt very scared of what Chris would do to me.
If I brought friends home, he scared them off.
I became isolated and got into trouble at school.
One day, I came home and put my school bag down.
Chris had a grim look on his face.
"My cancer has come back," he said. "I'm dying."
I never knew you'd had cancer in the first place, I thought.
I burst into tears, before he leant in to hug me.
Months passed and Chris said the chemotherapy was making his hair fall out.
But his brown mop looked exactly the same to me.
"I'm so tired," he said every evening.
I had to do all the household chores, but then I'd catch him walking around full of energy.
Meanwhile, he continued to abuse me.
With all the housework and the nightly rapes, I felt like he was turning me into his wife.
Then one day, police came around and handcuffed Chris.
"Your stepdad has been accused of touching a teenager," an officer told me. "You'll need to live with your real dad now."
I moved in with my dad and my stepmum, Helen.
Chris was found guilty of sexual assault and was jailed for 16 months.
It was a relief, but I started suffering flashbacks and insomnia and found it difficult to trust people.
Months later, I was having a drink with Dad and Helen when I blurted it out.
"Christopher used to rape me," I slurred.
For a second they were open-mouthed with shock.
Then they put their arms around me.
Chris knew just how to groom me.
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The next day Helen called the police.
Officers came to the house.
As I recounted what happened, they nodded sympathetically.
Then I realised I needed to speak to Mum.
She came around and we hugged and cried.
"I saw him touching your leg and I told social services, but he lied and said I was mentally unstable," she said. "They believed him and forced me out."
She'd been living in a women's hostel for three years while Chris was given parental rights.
She was told she'd be arrested if she talked to me.
"I never gave up hope of getting you back," Mum said.
When an officer said Chris had been charged with the attacks on me, I burst into tears.
Eventually, Christopher Paul Charlton, 46, appeared in court charged with five counts of rape and one count of engaging in sexual activity with a child.
He pleaded not guilty so I had to give evidence via video link.
I was scared, but I wasn't going to let him get away with it.
While being cross examined he was asked about the cancer.
Mum and I are stronger than ever.
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"It was all lies," he admitted.
He'd just said it so I'd feel sorry for him.
Before long, it was time for the jury to deliver its verdict.
Guilty on all six counts.
"Yes!" Mum cried leaping into the air.
He was jailed for 16 years.
Since the court case, I'm closer to Mum than ever.
Christopher moved Mum out of the way to get to me.
But he won't come between us again.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to a professional about sexual assault, contact SASS or phone 1800 RESPECT
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