Belfast Telegraph

Woman 'destroyed by abuse' in Nazareth House children's home waives right to anonymity

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

A woman "destroyed" by sexual and physical abuse in a children's home run by nuns has become the first witness to waive her right to anonymity in the hope that other victims will come forward.

Before the Historical Abuse Inquiry sitting began yesterday Kate Walmsley (57) said she had come to give evidence to make sure no boy or girl is ever abused at an institution in the future.

Ms Walmsley was a resident at Nazareth House children's home in Londonderry in the 1960s.

She said she wanted to become the first victim to waive her right to anonymity to help other victims who haven't yet come forward.

She told the inquiry: "I had a dreadful experience from when I was eight until I was 12. I was mentally tortured, physically and emotionally."

She said: "I had a horrible childhood at Nazareth House in Derry run by the religious orders. I was abused by two priests and also was mentally and physically abused by nuns.

"I just don't ever want that to happen to another little girl or boy and it's the only reason that I came forward for the inquiry.

"That's the only thing that has been keeping me going, that this world is going to change and that priests and bishops and cardinals are not going to rule the people and that the people are going to have a voice for once in their lives."

Ms Walmsley broke down as she recalled how she was regularly sexually assaulted by priests and older female residents.

Proceedings were halted yesterday morning after she broke down in tears recalling her time in the children's home.

She said: "This is killing us. Nazareth House destroyed my life."

The inquiry at Banbridge Court House in Co Down is investigating abuse claims against 13 children's residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995.

The inquiry heard how Ms Walmsley was described in welfare documents as a "badly behaved" and "troublesome child".

She told the inquiry that this was a result of her childhood. She described how she was beaten and force-fed her own vomit by nuns and scalded with hot water.

The Sisters of Nazareth Order gave an unreserved apology at the start of the inquiry but Ms Walmsley said she no longer understands what the word "sorry" means.

A number of statements from priests and nuns who deny allegations made against them were also read to the hearing.

The inquiry continues.

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