A woman has revealed how she visited her dying father in jail to tell him ‘I love you’ after he was jailed for decades of horrifying abuse in which he treated her as his ‘dutiful wife’.
Judy van Niekerk, 46, from London, was just six when her father Noah Walsh began abusing her, keeping her imprisoned in the family home.
For years he beat her, shot her in the chest and forced her to undergo an agonising home abortion using a coat hanger.
Inspirational survivor Judy van Niekerk has found peace and now helps others achieve their dreams
Judy cooked and cleaned for her father after her mother left the family when she was just six.
For years he subjected her to years of physical and sexual abuse, breaking her bones and even shooting her in the chest
Even though the abuse started when she was very young, looking back at her early childhood, Judy has mixed memories.
Most people have happy childhood memories. Mine include my dad teaching me to swim and taking me for picnics.
But I have a lot of bad ones memories too.
When I was six and my dad taught me to box. I was only little but he expected me to fight him, even though it hurt me.;
She wasn’t his only victim.
He was mean to my mum and called her useless and lazy and hit her, said Judy.
When she was six her mother left. She later returned, only to flee again when Judy was ten, leaving her at her father’s mercy.
Each time she left he treated me like his dutiful wife, she said.
Noah forced Judy to share his bed from the age of 11. ‘I should have been going to school. But he didn’t let me. He said, “you have too much to do here”.
I had to stay home and look after my five kid siblings. I had to get up early to make breakfast for everyone, and pack their lunchboxes.
I was made to wash our clothes by hand, as we didn’t have a machine.
Walsh won custody of his daughter in 1979 when she was 12 or 13 and he continued to bully her.
He threatened me with knives,’ she recalled.
The back-breaking housework left me feeling exhausted. By the evening I was always ready for bed – but my dad had other ideas.
He made me stay up with him until he wanted to go bed. He would then demand that I sleep in his room, and would force himself on me.
I was only a kid when he started to sexually assault and rape me. I was in such pain afterwards. He left me feeling confused and totally worthless
No one else know what Judy was going through.
My siblings never saw him do this.They didn’t know I fell pregnant that year either as, fortunately for dad, I miscarried.’
When she was 13 his violence left her with broken bones and he threatened to shoot her.He told me I was evil and wasn’t worthy of his love,’ she said. He said he had sacrificed having a life himself, to save me.
He told me: “If you don’t change I’m going to have to kill you.”
One day when I was 14, he got angry and shot me in the chest.
A neighbour called an ambulance and doctors told her she could have died but Walsh told them she had pulled the trigger herself.
Yet despite landing in hospital, Judy couldn’t rely on anyone to help her escape her living nightmare.
She said: ‘We kept moving house so we didn’t have neighbours looking out for us, or my school. Dad forbade me to go so I didn’t have friends to confide in.
He’d force me to wait for him in his bed for when he got home from work. That same year, I fell pregnant a second time.
I wanted to keep the baby as I was incredibly lonely locked up all day. I hoped it would give me someone to talk to.
But dad couldn’t risk people knowing what he’d done to me.
So he punched me in the stomach, made me take scolding hot baths, to try and end the pregnancy.
Finally he carried out a home abortion using a coat hanger.
Two years later she had another abortion at a clinic.
Walsh gave Judy a script to recite to the doctors, declaring that a pretend boyfriend had made her pregnant.
She said: Later I apologised to dad for getting pregnant. I felt it was my fault. I was brainwashed.’
Finally when Judy was 20 she hatched a plan to escape.
She contacted employment agencies to secure a job, got a credit card, packed her bags with clothes and a stone from a necklace her dad had bought her.
She then escaped during the night, stayed in a B&B and next morning went to the airport to fly to London where she trained as an accountant.
I had realised if I didn’t make a run for it or I might not get another chance, she said.
Yet even being in London was too close to her father so Judy moved to South Africa where she met Tiny van Niekerk, 46, who she later married.
He made her finally realise that she wasn’t to blame for how her father had treated her.
Thanks to his support and encouragement she finally worked up the courage to face her father in court.
In October 2000, Walsh, then 55, appeared at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
Out of 30 charges, Walsh admitted to three charges of rape and two of indecent exposure.
Judy was face to face with her father for the first time in more than a decade.
There wasn’t a screen in the court room, and I looked straight at dad as I gave evidence, said Mrs van Niekerk.
In a statement read out to the court, my dad had described our relationship as special. He’d said, “we lived as husband and wife, so when my daughter left, my world fell apart”.
But Justice Carney described the crimes as one of the worst cases of this nature he had ever heard.
Walsh, of Sandymount, County Monaghan, was jailed for 15 years.
Just four years into his sentence, in 2004 Mrs van Niekerk received a message from police saying her father was in a hospice with terminal lung cancer. So she decided to see him.
I realised I had to tell him I cared, she said.
I was grateful for everything he’d taught me – how to swim, and be strong. I was scared at first but the fear soon melted away as I set eyes on dad who was ravaged by cancer and frail.
Yet Walsh had no idea of the pain and misery he’d inflicted on his daughter.
She continued: I hated seeing him suffer and he was pleased to see me.
He was confused about why I’d reported him to police though. But it didn’t upset me, or make me angry. I couldn’t judge him.
I told him, “I love you” and he said it back.
After he died I was sad. He was still my dad. I was pleased I’d got to see him one last time.
I had complete love and compassion for him.
But finally I was at peace.
Culled from daily mail.