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Shirley Oaks victim: 'I am proof the care system does not work'

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OF THE six members of the Gocan family placed at Shirley Oaks, Yvonne has found it the most difficult to lead a normal life. As the youngest girl, she was separated from her sisters and housed in a separate cottage. Just a toddler, she had no one to look out for her. "From an early age they would bring men into the cottage and they would sexually abuse me," she explained. "My sister couldn't understand why I was always dressed in the best underwear and the best night clothing. They didn't have those clothes but, looking back, it's understandable why I did. As brothers and sisters we've never really gone into detail about what happened. We were taught not to talk. They left as time went by and I was the one left behind." Left in Shirley Oaks on her own, Yvonne tried to commit suicide at 16. When she did leave she was barely able to read or write. She fell into a succession of abusive relationships, became an alcoholic and a drug addict. She has never been able to hold down a job. Yvonne, 49, has three children, all of whom were taken away from her by the local authority. The oldest, 27, is in prison. The youngest, 15, is still in the care system. Her third son, 21, is now back at home, but has no qualifications and a long list of convictions. Yvonne sees no way out of the cycle. "The system doesn't work," she said. "I'm proof and history is repeating itself. It sets you up to fail. You are spat out of the other end, completely unprepared for life. "They took my childhood and left me ruined. All of the things a young person is supposed to have – friendship, love, prospects – I've had taken from me. "Most of my abusers are dead, but the people who put them there should be the ones who should be held responsible, because they didn't come to check to see if we were OK. "I don't think any amount of money could ever make things right."

Shirley Oaks victim: 'I am proof the care system does not work'


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