Bobbi Woodley's childhood was stolen by the man meant to protect her
'D￼addy’s here!’ my mum called as a car pulled up outside.
‘Hello Bobbi,’ my dad Colin said, crouching down.
‘Are you excited for our break?’
At four, I was shy and scurried behind Mum’s legs before nodding gingerly.
After my parents had split two years earlier, it was the first time I’d seen him.
Jumping in the car, Dad was warm and friendly so he quickly put me at ease.
But a few days into our trip, Dad turned to me.
You need to rub this special cream on me,’ he smiled. ‘If you don’t, I will get sick. You wouldn’t want that would you?’
I shook my head and began putting lotion on his privates like he asked.
I wasn’t sure if all daughters helped their daddies in this way, but I just wanted to make him happy.
‘Did you have a nice time?’ Mum asked when I got home.
My eyes filled with tears.
‘What’s wrong?’ she asked.
I told her what happened and she called the police.
Dad was interviewed, but officers told Mum there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
So instead, Mum made sure I didn’t have to visit him again.
But that incident changed me. I began to go off the rails and Mum struggled to cope.
As a result, I found myself in care. I’d never felt so alone.
When I was seven, Dad came to visit me at the care home.
He lavished me with gifts and then one day he came to pick me up.
‘You’re coming to live with me now,’ he smiled.
Doubts niggled in my mind, but I pushed them back – desperate to be part of a family again.
He just made a mistake last time, I reasoned.
How wrong I was... From that first night, the abuse was frequent.
But I didn’t know any different. To me, it was normal.
At school, I started to realise what Dad was doing was wrong but I felt trapped.
Finally, at eight, I plucked up courage to tell a teacher.
But Dad escaped charges again and I found myself back in care.
Then when I was 11, I was walking to school one day when Dad pulled up in a car next to me.
‘You have to come with me,’ he demanded.
Smuggling me to a remote cottage over 400 kilometres away, I was terrified.
I knew people would be looking for me. But would they ever find me?
Dad abused me regularly.
During the day, he worked in a garage and one morning he forced me into the boot of his car.
‘Stay there,’ he said, slamming it shut.
It was pitch black and the musty air smothered my lungs
It was pitch black and the musty air smothered my lungs.
I had no choice but to lay there as he raced along the country roads.
When the vehicle came to a stop, I expected Dad to let me out.
Instead, I heard his car door slam before his footsteps disappeared into the distance.
I wanted to scream but no sound came out.
Instead, I curled into a ball and shivered as I waited for him to return.
When he finally opened the boot, hours had passed.
I realised we must be at his work.
‘Go to the toilet,’ he instructed me, before making me climb back in.
He then handed me something to eat and a carton of juice before pressing a pill into my hand.
‘Swallow that,’ he demanded.
I had no idea what it was, but was terrified not to do as he asked.
‘Now be quiet,’ he said. ‘I’ll be back later.’
I was forced into that boot every day for weeks, Dad only letting me out at night to abuse me.
Things only went from bad to worse when Dad invited a friend over.
Giving me more pills – which I later learnt were ecstasy – he let the man abuse me too. How could a father be so cruel?
A terrifying year passed in this way.
I was losing hope of ever being saved when one day the police arrived and suddenly I was free.
I was losing hope of ever being saved
Later, I discovered a neighbour had seen me and recognised me from a missing person’s program on TV.
Yet again Dad avoided being charged with child sex offences.
Instead, he pleaded guilty to two counts of child abduction at Corby Magistrates’ Court and received a 24-month conditional discharge.
I reported him again at 14, but still no charges were laid. It seemed Dad was above the law.
Even though the physical abuse finally stopped, I suffered terrible nightmares of my childhood.
I eventually went on to marry a lovely man before welcoming my daughter, now seven, but Dad constantly rang me, once calling 80 times in a week.
I tried to shut him out but if I didn’t answer he’d show up at my workplace or house.
But when my eight-year marriage broke down in October 2014, I realised that to move on, I needed to catch Dad out once and for all.
Shaking as I dialled his number, I asked if I could visit.
‘Of course,’ he replied.
That day I walked into his house with a dictaphone hiding in my handbag.
I tearily poured my heart out, secretly recording him as he told me he was sorry for what he’d done
For 45 minutes, I tearily poured my heart out, secretly recording him as he told me he was sorry for what he’d done.
I felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I’d finally caught him.
Handing the tape to police, Dad was arrested and charged.
In July 2015 at Plymouth Crown Court, my dad Colin Goss, then 77, of Stoke, UK, pleaded guilty to eight charges, including one count of indecency with a child, two charges of indecent assault and three counts of rape between 1985 and 1995.
He was sentenced to 16 years in jail, before the term was increased to 18 years.
His friend Dean Angear, then 41, denied two specimen charges of rape, but was found guilty and jailed for 11 years.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what he and Dad put me through.
Even though I feel like the one with the life sentence, I’m determined to stay strong.
I now focus all my energy on my beautiful daughter and giving her a better life than the one I had.
My evil father might have stolen my childhood, but he won’t steal my future.
Originally published in that's life! issue 4 - January 28 2016