Real Life

Real life: My own sister sold me for sex

I thought she’d be my protector, but she destroyed my life.

By Take 5 team

Joanne Jenkins, 46, shares her horrifying real life story;

Trigger warning: This article deals with sexual abuse.
I ran out of school, my satchel banging on my hip.
"See you on Monday," I called out to my classmates.
I was excited to spend the weekend with my sister, Avril, 15 years older than me.
Home life with Mum was tricky.
She worked long hours at an amusement arcade and when she was home, she treated me like a nuisance.
She wasn't maternal or affectionate.
Avril, 23, was more like a mum to me.
"There she is," she smiled greeting me at her front door.
She gave me dinner and then said she had a surprise for me.
"You'll be going on a trip with Peter tomorrow to pick blackberries," she said. "Just the two of you."
Peter, her husband was a fisherman.
I didn't like him.
He smelt funny.
But worse than that, he had a foul temper and often shouted at Avril, but she adored him.
The next morning, Peter and I got into his van.
It was painted black with a red stripe like the A-Team's.
We drove to a remote track and then he reached over and touched me between my legs.
Before I could say anything he stopped and began driving again.
I was only eight and too terrified to say a word.
Back at Mum's I told her what had happened.
Me as a child. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
"No-one likes a liar, Joanne," she snapped.
I longed for attention so I continued to spend time with Avril – despite her husband.
A few weeks later I was having a bath at her house when Peter barged into the bathroom.
"We're going to shave your legs," he said, grinning.
He took a razor and ran it down my thighs.
Then he lifted me out of the bath and carried me to his bed.
He made me lie on top of him then forced himself inside me.
I didn't know what was happening.
But I knew it hurt.
I wanted to tell someone, but had been scarred by Mum's reaction.
Soon, Peter was abusing me every time I went round.
Sometimes Avril would be at the house when it happened and I was sure she could hear my cries.
Does she know what he's doing to me? I wondered.
Then one night, when I was 13, Avril led me to her bedroom and sat me in front of her vanity mirror.
"It's makeover time," she said, grinning.
She put her make-up on me and dressed me in one of her miniskirts.
"Look at you," she said. "So grown up."
She took me downstairs to show Peter.
All I wanted was affection and love. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
"Very nice," he said. "Why don't we go down to the van?"
The van? I thought confused.
Opening the door, I was surprised to see a mattress inside.
"Get in!" Peter barked.
Avril and I got in and as soon as Peter shut the door, he launched himself at me pinning me down.
"Avril!" I cried. "What's he doing?"
"Relax," she replied. "Just go with it."
Peter pulled up my skirt and started raping me while Avril just sat there.
Back in bed, I cried until there were no tears left.
Avril, the one person I trusted, had known what her husband was doing.
Soon they developed a sick routine.
Most nights at 10pm they'd wake me and force me to watch them having sex.
Then Avril would strip me ready for her husband.
As Peter raped me, she'd blow on my nipples and hold me down.
Sometimes Peter told her to touch me and she'd obey.
Weeks passed and the abuse grew worse.
Avril would dress me up, then Peter would drive us to strange locations where men would queue up to rape me in the back of his van.
But as abusive as they were, I kept returning to their home.
I hoped one day, the horrific acts would end.
Peter and Avril's house where the nightmare began. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
In the daytime, Avril acted like a real mum.
She helped me with school work, fussed over me and cooked my dinner.
But when the evening came, the nightmare began.Shortly after my 15th birthday, Peter hosted a party on his boat.
That evening Avril dressed me up, gave me a huge glass of vodka and told me to drink up.
"You're gonna need it," she sneered.
On the boat, I was drunk and Peter had his hands all over me.
"Get off!" I screamed.
He picked me up and dangled me overboard.
"Shut up and take it," he growled.
Then he shoved me into the cabin, where Avril and two men were waiting.
Avril Griffiths. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
For the next four hours, I was raped and abused in the most degrading way.
Afterwards, I was in agony and bleeding.
"You've ripped me apart," I wept in horror.
In that moment, I flipped.
I found my way off the boat and later a police car drove me to Mum's.
This time I hoped she'd listen when I told her it was Avril and Peter who'd raped me.
"You're as dirty as them," she slurred and kicked me out.
I was taken into care and two years later, I moved away.
I got married and had four children, but I was a shell of a person, turning to booze to block out the memories.
I wound up divorced.
I met someone new and had another child but that relationship failed, too. I craved love but felt I was undeserving of it.
Peter Griffiths. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
As my kids grew older I became paranoid that someone was going to abuse them.
I realised Peter and Avril were still ruling my life.
So when I was 28, I contacted the police.
But it was my word against theirs so the case collapsed.
Then 15 years later, another victim came forward.
Avril had pinned this poor girl down when she was only 14 so Peter could rape her.
The case was reopened and a third victim came forward.
She'd been under-age when the sick pair had raped and taken indecent pictures of her.
They were finally brought to court. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Finally, Avril and Peter Griffiths appeared in court.
They denied everything and said we were just doing it to get compensation money.
Peter even said the sex with me was when I was of age and consensual.
However, he was found guilty of eight counts of rape, three of indecent assault and three of taking indecent photographs of children and was sentenced to 21 years.
I finally feel free of demons. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Avril was jailed for five counts of rape, and two of taking indecent photographs of children and sentenced to 15 years.
They were both put on the sex offenders register for life.
Since their conviction, I feel free for the first time – I can finally lay my childhood demons to rest.
Last year, I met a lovely man, Roger and he's been my rock.
I've finally found the love I always craved.
Readers who are seeking assistance can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

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