My eyes shot open and I became aware of something slithering over my body. It was Dad's hand.
"It's OK, sweetheart," he whispered. "Go back to sleep."
I squeezed my eyes shut tight.
At only four years old, I didn't understand what he was doing, but I knew it didn't feel nice.
I hated bath times too. Dad would sit in the tub with me and rub his hands all over my body. Sometimes, he would make me touch him too.
On Monday and Wednesday nights while Mum was at bingo, he'd take a camera out and make me pose for him.
"You're so beautiful, you should be a model," he'd leer while snapping away.
He dressed me in revealing clothes and I was never allowed to cut my long blonde hair.
"Isn't she divine?" he'd boast to his mates.
One night while putting me to bed, he pulled down his pants and clambered on top of me.
I cried out. Feeling like I was being ripped in two.
"Daddy, stop!" I pleaded, sobbing.
The pain was unbelievable.
"Quiet!" he hissed.
When he'd finished, he pulled the doona over me and kissed me on the forehead as I lay trembling and whimpering.
"This is what people who love each other do," he said, before switching off the light.
After that, Dad abused me most nights. One time he set up his video camera at the bottom of my bed and recorded his attack.
It became a regular thing. It wasn't until I turned 11 and started going to my friends' houses after school that I realised my situation wasn't normal.
Their dads didn't look at them the way mine looked at me.
I started asking questions and defying Dad, but he beat me whenever I did.
During sex education at school, I realised what he was doing and it left me feeling ashamed and horrified.
"If you don't stop, I'll tell everyone what you're doing," I threatened one night.
"Nobody will believe you," he said, trying to laugh it off. But his face paled with worry.
Moments later, he grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the front door.
"What are you doing?" I cried.
"Showing you what will happen if you say anything," he said. He ordered me to get into his white van, and then he went to the garage.
He returned with a plastic container in his hand, which he threw into the back. Then he jumped in beside me and drove a couple of blocks before pulling over.
He lit a cigarette, and nodded towards the container.
"Pick it up", he ordered. I did, and seeing the label my eyes widened in horror.
"If you ever open your mouth, I'll pour that all over the van and set myself on fire," he said.
"I won't say anything, I promise," I said, trembling.
Mum was never concerned about Dad constantly being in my room. The only thing I could do was fight back when he tried to abuse me.
Dad started giving me hot chocolate before bed.
I felt groggy in the mornings and often couldn't remember falling asleep.
When I turned 16, I packed my things and moved into a shared house. I dropped out of school and got a job. Within weeks, Dad had found me and demanded I return home.
"No Dad," I said defiantly. "This is my home now."
Reluctantly, he left.
Days later, I was on my way to work when I heard a car pull up alongside me. It was Dad again.
"Come home, love," he urged, leaning out the window.
"No," I snapped.
But he turned up at work and bombarded me with messages.
Eventually, for an easy life, I agreed to visit for a Sunday roast.
But I felt sick even being in the same room as him.
A few years later, on holiday in Egypt, I met my husband, Hos. Finally I experienced love in the right way.When our engagement was announced, Dad was horrified. He did all he could to break us up, but failed.
"Your dad's quite possessive," Hos said to me one night.
"You have no idea," I replied.
I desperately wanted to tell him, but I was too afraid.
At our wedding, Dad walked me down the aisle. I shuddered under his touch.
"You look beautiful," he said, kissing me on the cheek as we reached the altar.
It made me want to heave.
At the reception, he made a speech about his great parenting skills.
I gritted my teeth and forced a smile.
Afterwards, Hos and I moved away and I thought I was finally free.
I was still in touch with my parents for appearance's sake, so I told them when I fell pregnant.
"I hope you have a girl," Dad said to me.
Did he plan to abuse her too?
Thankfully I had a son, and I vowed to keep him as far away from my Dad as I could.
Then one day, out of the blue, I got a call from police.
"We'd like to talk to you about your father," they said.
Following an anonymous tip-off, they'd raided his house.
"We've found some disturbing evidence that relates to you," they said.
"Like what?" I asked. I listened in horror as they explained.
"We've found video tapes of you being abused, spanning years," the officer told me. "There were over 60 hours of footage."
They'd found cameras installed in the bedroom lights and also diaries detailing something else.
When I became a teenager and began fighting back, Dad drugged me before abusing me.
He bought the illegal substances off the internet, then slipped them into the hot chocolate he made me.
"He could have killed me," I gasped.
The grogginess in the morning and blacking out the night before now made sense.
In time, my dad, Edward Colby, pleaded guilty to incest, indecent assault, gross indecency with a female child under 16, and taking indecent photographs of a child.
He was jailed for 10 years and made to sign the sex offenders' register.
I went to his sentencing to show I'm no longer afraid of him, but the coward didn't look my way.
I still don't know whether my mum knew what was going on, but we no longer have a relationship.
I've since started the She Can Consultancy, which helps thousands of victims of abuse speak out.
Telling my story is so important – it means that I can finally start living my life, free of my abuser's evil clutches.
- BooksSubscribe to Woman's Day magazine for your chance to win!
Woman's DayYesterday 10:38am