Belfast Telegraph

Nazareth House care home abuse descended into hell, inquiry is told

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

The emotional distress of life in a children's home run by nuns left a woman feeling as if she had "descended into hell," an inquiry has been told.

Three former residents of Nazareth House in Londonderry gave evidence yesterday to the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) at Banbridge Court House in Co Down.

The inquiry is investigating abuse claims against children's residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995.

They spoke of the physical, mental and sexual abuse they were subjected to as children living in the home.

A female witness described to the inquiry how she was sexually abused by a nun when she was aged just three or four. The woman, now in her 50s, claimed she had been sexually and physically abused by nuns and older girls and said she had prayed she would never have children herself.

"I couldn't bear to see them going through the pain and hurt I suffered," she said.

She described how she drank from drainpipes when she was thirsty and suffered sores all over her body as a result of having her skin scrubbed with a floor brush.

Another woman who appeared via videolink from Canada told the inquiry that when she was four or five years old she was spoon-fed her own vomit.

She told the inquiry she would be force-fed her breakfast of basic porridge and as a result she would vomit it up – she was then spoon fed her vomit as punishment.

She also spoke of how she witnessed a nun give a brutal beating to another young child.

The woman recalled seeing her body left covered in blood as she was struck from head to foot repeatedly with a thick stick.

The woman described the nuns running the homes as "heartless" and "emotionally handicapped".

Another victim described how she too was beaten by older girls within Nazareth House and said the emotional distress of being a resident left her feeling as if she had "descended into hell".

The inquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, continues.

BACKGROUND

The Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is investigating abuse claims against children's residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995. The inquiry is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart.

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