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About Us

We were born into a large family of ten children in the mid-1950’s and 1960’s in a disadvantaged area of Dublin, where our father sexually abused all of us for over two decades. In 1989, we made the decision to bring charges against our father and, in 1990; the Irish state took a successful case against him. He was convicted and sentenced to a term of seven years and was released having served five years.

In 1992 we took part in a groundbreaking RTE documentary series entitled Tuesday File, Silent Scream (produced by Moya Doherty). Up to that point, RTE programmes on child abuse always had the interviewee’s face hidden and voices distorted, but we openly volunteered to share our story and despite the attempted injunction by our imprisoned father, the documentary was aired on RTE in October 1992.

The programme won a Jacobs Award in 1992 and early the next year we were nominated for the Harvey’s/Sunday Independent Irish Women of the Year. This programme also went on to be used as a training tool for professions dealing with abuse victims and won the US National Women’s Studies Association Award in 1994.

In September 2011 the book of our experience entitled ‘Click, Click’  was published by the Hachette Book Group and went straight to number one in the Irish non-fiction bestseller list. The book has been described as being “a powerful, emotional and sometimes harrowing story of childhood abuse.”

The book, which was nearly twenty years in the writing, tells openly of our experiences from childhood to the current day, detailing the abuse and manipulation we and our mother suffered at the hands of our father and how, ultimately, we have triumphed over this abuse.

In 2011 we were awarded a Special Merit Award by our local community for our bravery in writing our book.

Our message of hope has resonated with readers not only in Ireland but across the UK. Following our UK appearance on ITV’s This Morning with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on May 3rd,  2012 the book went straight to number four on the Amazon UK bestseller list and went on to number three in the UK nonfiction best-seller list and stayed in the top ten for 10 weeks.

Our story has attracted a lot of media attention in the UK because our honesty and humour have not previously been seen in the media in relation to this type of subject matter. Best Magazine, Best of Chat Magazine, the Sun Newspaper, the Irish Post Newspaper and the Scottish Daily Record Newspaper along with BBC World Service Radio and LBC Radio ran interviews with us. We have received hundreds of correspondences from individual readers and viewers expressing their thanks to us for sharing our story.

We were also nominated for Best Magazine’s Inspirational Women Awards that took place in November 2012 in London. Following that media activity, we have shared our story with a number of groups in Ireland, Northern Ireland and in London and we were keynote speakers at The Open Door Network Annual Conference, Home Truths – The Irish Experience of Domestic and Sexual Violence in November 2012.

Joyce Kavanagh

Joyce

I was born in 1956, the sixth of ten children.  I left school at age 12 and delighted to get out of it as I truly hated every minute of school.  The contradiction was I never felt normal or safe outside the family home regardless of the abuse I was suffering at the hands of my father.  I worked in our family shop straight from school and later making soft toys when the shop closed down.

There were a few times in those early years when I did step outside and get a real job but when my father noticed I was doing well he sabotaged those jobs and I always ended up coming back to the family business.  I was not aware at the time that it was his way of keeping control, I read it as genuine concern for me.

I returned to education with June and Paula to study reflexology.  I was able to grasp the concept of reflexology, but the studying element really threw me.  Paula was the brains and she did most of the studying and research and would summarise her notes in order to get us through the exams.  I did go on to practice reflexology for a while but paying work took priority.

My first official job was in An Cosan, an adult learning centre where I was a receptionist and later moved onto administration.   I did a lot of voluntary work in the community at the time and later went on to do a degree in Community Development with June.  It was enjoyable but the constant inner voice reminding me that I was stupid was always prominent.  I did get through the studies and did really well but after working in the community for over 20 years I decided it was time to focus on myself.

During all of this we were working on our first book Click, Click and the self-learning and constant reflection led to tremendous growth.  I was getting stronger and had to sit back and take stock of what I wanted in life.  I took redundancy from my job and have been doing very little since then in relation to the community.

The launching of our book and the many talks we gave after it really fed my soul as here was the one subject I felt we were experts in and each talk led us to realise we had something real and substantial to give back.  We discovered our past had something to offer to the world as well as ourselves.  

We have worked hard on our second book which arose mainly from the many questions which came from our talks and through our own healing. We believe the healing process that took us many years to get through could have been shortened if we had access to the correct information and we believe that Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse has this information.

I now live very happily with my partner, Mark of 12 years, my six children are doing very well and my four grandchildren bring so much joy to my life.

June Kavanagh

June

I was born in 1961 and am number eight of the 10 Kavanagh children.  I don’t remember a lot of my childhood; I suppose that’s because of the abuse. The problem with blocking out bad memories is the good ones; “if there was any” are also gone.  I can only recall moments in time.  

The combination of being abused at such a young age and growing up in a chaotic house with so many people of all ages resulted in me feeling a complete lack of identity. 

I may as well have been dropped off on this planet by an alien as I felt I didn’t belong anywhere.  Ironically the only time I felt safe was in the family home nestled in among all my siblings. 

The grooming process ensured a lot of confusion for me and I was always searching to understand why my father would hurt me. I never found the answer.

In contrast, I always remember loving laughter.  It was a great release.  We laughed a lot as a family but the laughter was not to be mistaken for happiness.  I put on a lot of weight in my teens and this ensured my self hatred was complete, inside and out.  

I don’t know how I got through those teen years and early adulthood but I did.  Although my life experiences made me who I am today I would not go back even for one day for all the tea in china.

Writing both Click, Click in 2011 and our new book ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse‘ with my two brilliant phenomenal sisters has probably saved my life.  I learned so much in the process and I believe we are meant to do this work.  

We have achieved and overcome a lot but still struggle to own any of our achievements.  I believe this book will change all of that, as it has for me, putting aside my children and husband, without a doubt, been my proudest achievement to date.

I met my husband when I was 26.  I believe we made a pact before incarnating to save each other and that is exactly what we did.  Our relationship at first was tumultuous as we both worked through our baggage.  We have three boys that we love beyond words and just recently became very proud grandparents.

I can finally say that I have found happiness.  Shit still happens but I love this life of mine and I can say with hand on heart that I love myself.

Paula

I was born in 1963 and am the youngest of four girls and the second youngest of ten children. I left school when I was 14 the only one in my family to ever sit any formal exam and despite the belief that I was stupid and unable to learn. I had worked in the family business from the time I left school up until the 1990’s when my father’s abuse was exposed.

I spent most of my teenage and early adult years heavily involved basketball. My involvement with basketball along with the friends I made became my absolute saviour.I did return to education in my late 30’s to study reflexology. It was through taking the very first course in reflexology that my love for education began. I went on to qualify in complementary therapies and after working in that field for a very short time I realised that wasn’t what I wanted to do. 

I really struggled with what I felt was a contradiction of telling clients what they needed to do to take care of themselves all the while taking none of that advice myself. 

I was very aware of that need for doing my own work on myself and how good I was at avoiding any form of self-reflection.

In 2003 I again returned to education thinking at the time that being in education was the best way of avoiding having to get a job and be a grown-up. I managed to achieve a BSc degree in Management but still struggled with feelings of inadequacy and I was totally unable to take any form of ownership of my achievements.

In 2007 I got the courage to apply for a job in administration in a community organisation that Joyce worked for feeling that at the least I would have someone I knew to help me. That job brought in a life coaching programme as part of staff development and it was through taking part in the staff sessions along with training as a life coach that was the beginning of me finally taking my life back.

When our first book ‘Click, Click’ was published in 2011 and my Mother passed away I went into a downward spiral, I took voluntary redundancy and spend time doing the self-reflection that I had avoided for so long. This along with working on our second book, ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse’ was the best thing that could have happened. 

The research that had to be taken to write the content for the second book provided the answers to so many of my questions.
I decided then that I needed a new direction and again returned to education qualifying in graphic design. I now run my own graphic design and web management business that although is only in its early stages I get up every morning filled with the joy of what the day has in store for me.

I am blessed to have Siobhan my partner of twenty years by my side and we now have two beautiful dogs, Scooby and Millie. 

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