"I won't let him ruin my life" - defiant Preston woman speaks as Terrence Rafferty, who abused her at nine, is given a suspended jail term

A brave victim of sexual abuse has revealed how she had to relive the trauma to bring her attacker to justice more than 30 years later.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sexually assaulted by Terrence Rafferty when he was a teenager and she was just nine.

Terence Rafferty

Terence Rafferty

She lived with the secret for decades, and even left her home city as a teenager to get away from the area.

She said: " I moved away just to start again. I was nine when it happened and very naive.

"By the time I was 12 I realised what he did was wrong.

"I became an angry teen and ended up leaving home at 16. I didn't want to ever see him again."

Rafferty was previously jailed for five years in 2016 after admitting grooming a 13-year-old Leyland schoolgirl and asking her to model underwear for him, but was released from prison in September last year.

His other victim was horrified when she saw an article about the case.

She said: " When I read the newspaper I was absolutely devastated for the girl this had happened to and I thought ' I don't have a choice, I need to report what happened to me', because for the first time I realised there could be others.

"A cousin of mine saw it and asked if I had seen it - that's how it all spilled out."

The case was reported to Lancashire Police but it took a long time to get to court.

It marked the start of a traumatic journey for the victim.

She added: "Doing the video interview sent me into a deep depression because I had to describe in physical detail what he did.

"I have suffered flashbacks on and off but they increased after the statement I had to give.

"Every knock at the door or phone ringing takes you straight back there."

Terrence Rafferty, 47, of London Road, Preston, appeared before Preston Crown Court where he admitted indecently assaulting the youngster in the 1980s.

She said: "It was more than I expected. He had to be sentenced under old laws which carried a lesser sentence. The fact he was a teenager at the time meant if he had have been in court at that time he probably would have got a rehabilitation order.

"I can now put this back in a box and draw a line under it.

"I don't have any feelings towards him - if I think about him I feel sick. He's nobody to me.

"I'm not going to let him ruin my life.

"For me this was 31 years go, but I just want to tell other victims who may be reading this it doesn't matter how long ago it is, how much time has passed - you can still go to the police. They will believe you, they will stand by you, and you can still get justice."

To report a sexual crime call police on 101.

Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline, in confidence, on 0808 8005000.

Children seeking advice and support can call Childline on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk