Real Life

Real life: I was adopted by a rapist

I'd been excited at having a family for the first time. I never expected this.

By Take 5 team

Jade Barr, 22, shares her true life story:

I clutched the social worker's hand nervously as she led me into a room where a couple sat waiting.

"Look, Jade, these are your new parents," she said, giving me an encouraging smile.

Douglas and Julie Barr were in their 30s and looked nice enough.

I was only five but had already been in social care for three years.

My parents had given me up when I was two because they couldn't cope.

The Barrs had applied to adopt me and, although I was very apprehensive, I was excited that I was going to feel part of a family.

Douglas was a big chubby guy. When he pulled me in for a hug, I thought he was like a teddy bear.

Julie was quieter, but she was good at making sure I was clean and had nice clothes to wear.

Her cooking was the nicest food I'd ever eaten.

I could get used to this, I thought, allowing a small smile to creep onto my lips.

For the first few weeks, things went well.

The only thing was, I seemed to be getting into troublewith Douglas a lot.

He was always telling me off and one time he punished me for breaking a vase by locking me outside for two hours.

It was winter and freezing cold.

Douglas enjoying a beer.
Douglas enjoying a beer.

When he caught me reading in bed after the lights-out time, he hit me on the bottom with a riding crop.

Still, I knew I should be grateful that he was being my dad.

He also made me wash his hair for him in the bath.

"Get the soap and scrub my back," he'd bark.

He'd just lie there so I could see everything.

I assumed it was normal behaviour.

Over the next few years, I made some friends at school, and felt settled in my life.

So when Douglas and Julie announced out of the blue one day when I was 11 that we were moving to Greece, I was shocked.

"I don't want to leave my friends," I said, sulkily.

Julie said it was so we could all have a better life.

But I liked my life here.

Still I can't deny I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our new home in Tavronitis, Crete.

It was a five-bedroom villa with a pool.

Neither Douglas nor Julie worked so I didn't know how they could afford it.

I was sent to a local school, where no-one spoke a word of English.

"The children won't talk to me," I complained.

"Learn Greek then!" snapped Douglas.

Our new home in Greece.
Our new home in Greece.

Over the next three years I started to make friends and enjoyed our new life.

At 14, I earned a bit of money by looking after some local holiday homes while their owners were away.

One night I was lying in bed when Douglas walked in.

He sat on my bed and I felt his hands snake over the covers.

He started groping my bum and boobs.

"Now you touch me," he commanded.

I was frozen with fear so, impatiently, he grabbed my hand and forced me.

I knew it was wrong, but I didn't know how to stop it.

I was too scared of him to tell anyone about what he was doing to me.

After that, he would touch me whenever he could.

No-one had a clue what was going on.

To friends and neighbours, he played the lovable comedian.

One day he asked me if I had the keys to a holiday home.

"I'll come with you to check it out," he said.

But when we got to the house, he pinned me down on one of the beds and raped me.

The pain was unbearable.

He didn't say anything afterwards, but he didn't need to.

Me and Douglas.
Me and Douglas.

I was terrified of him.

He loved guns – and sometimes he'd sit, silent but menacing, with a loaded shotgun on his lap.

He liked a drink, too, and he was a mean drunk.

I was scared of what he'd do if I told anyone, and he continued to rape me at the holiday homes.

I pleaded with him to stop, and sometimes I'd fake being on my period to put him off.

When I was 19, the rape and abuse suddenly stopped.

I tried to bury everything deep down inside me but what he did plagued me.

Finally, I broke down and told a friend.

She was horrified.

"You can't let him get away with this," she said.

She contacted the police and I gave a statement.

He was arrested and I was shocked to learn that I wasn't his only victim.

Julie left Greece and I didn't see her again.

A year later, I faced Douglas in court and shook as I gave evidence.

Shamelessly, he denied all charges. The twisted monster even had the gall to wink at me.

He was obsessed with guns.
He was obsessed with guns.

Thankfully, the smirk was wiped off his face when the jury reached their verdict: guilty.Douglas Barr, 56, was jailed for 19 years and 7 months for the crimes against me and another victim.

He was sent to Greece's most notorious jail, Grevena – an overcrowded prison infamous for brutal beatings.

He deserved whatever was coming to him.

The courts also revealed that he was a total benefit fraud.

He told all his expat mates that he lived off the profits of a successful pub he owned and a pension from his days playing for a rugby club.

He was a liar, a fraud and a paedophile.

Me now. I'm moving forward.
Me now. I'm moving forward.

I'll never get over what he did.

He was trusted to protect and look after me but instead he stole my innocence.

He's not worthy of being called Dad.

If you would like to know more about support services available for sexual abuse contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.

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