A woman has revealed the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-grandfather who raped her from the age of seven.
Charlotte Wade, now 22, from South Wales, was raped, beaten and sexually abused by Raymond Hodges, who even performed a home abortion on her using a coat hanger after getting her pregnant at the age of 12.
She eventually found the strength to report him to the police in 2016 and eight months later he was jailed for 25 years for his heinous crimes.
Charlotte, who has bravely waived her right to anonymity, said: ‘It helps to know that he’s rotting behind bars and that my evidence helped to put him there.’
Raymond, Charlotte’s step-dad’s father, travelled 200 miles from Southend-on-Sea in Essex to Barry, to stay with Charlotte’s family for weeks at a time.
In 2002, when Charlotte was five, Raymond offered to babysit her so her stepdad could go out while her mum was at work.
She said: ‘I loved Raymond like he was my real granddad, but that day, Raymond was different and asked me if I knew how to kiss like a grown up.
‘When I said no, he kissed me on the lips. Afterwards, he told me it was our secret. And he’d do it every time we were alone.’
The abuse escalated, and the next time Raymond stayed over, he made Charlotte touch him while her parents were asleep.
Soon she began to dread his visits and ‘felt sick’ when Raymond moved to Barry to be closer to the family in 2003.
She said: ‘He moved to a flat just minutes from our house and I’d stay at his most weekends.
‘There he’d force me to touch him and he’d touch me on my privates.
‘He threatened to hurt my brothers if I told anyone. I was desperate to protect them, so I kept quiet.’
A year later when Charlotte was seven, Raymond took her to his flat, pushed her onto the living room floor and raped her, leaving her in ‘unbearable’ pain.
She said: ‘He told me this is what grown ups did. Afterwards, he bought me sweets from the shop as if nothing had happened. I was trapped.’
A year later, Charlotte’s tormentor began filming the sexual assaults.
Charlotte said: ‘At first, I refused, but he kicked me in the stomach and then raped me anyway. I was powerless. The next time I refused, he forced my hand onto a scalding kettle.’
In 2009 when Charlotte was 12, she missed two periods, and Raymond was abusing her so regularly that he noticed and made her take a pregnancy test.
She said: ‘He wouldn’t let me see the results and nothing was mentioned for a few weeks.’
The next month, while Charlotte was at Raymond’s flat a friend of his turned up and out of nowhere, pinned her to the ground.
She said: ‘I was terrified and thought he was going to rape me, then granddad appeared with a coat hanger, pulled down my knickers, and pushed it inside me.
‘I’d never felt pain like it. I felt like I was going to die.
‘Afterwards he told me that I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore, then he left me bleeding on the floor.
‘I cleaned myself up but I was in agony for the next few days. And I was desperate to tell someone.’
Over the next two years Charlotte endured being raped by Raymond every week, but the attacks became less frequent when she hit her teens.
When she was 14 he stopped coming round after an argument with her mum.
‘Even after granddad left, I never felt safe,’ said Charlotte, who suffered terrible flashbacks, self-harmed and tried to end her life several times.
Deciding Hodges needed to be punished, she reported him to the police in November 2016 and he was arrested and charged a week later.
In July 2017, Hodges, now 73, appeared at Cardiff Crown Court charged with 24 offences against Charlotte, but only pleaded guilty to four, forcing Charlotte to give evidence in court during a two week trial.
He was found guilty for all the remaining charges, jailed for 25 years and made to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.
Judge Philip Harris-Jenkins said Hodges showed no remorse for what he called ‘the most depraved and horrific campaign of sexual abuse’.
‘When the police told me, I fell to the floor sobbing,’ said Charlotte, ‘speaking out has helped me move forward with my life – and I want to urge others to do the same.
‘My sick granddad may have deprived me of a happy childhood, but I refuse to let him ruin my future.’