A woman from Eastbourne has spoken of her relief after the man who raped her as a little girl 40 years ago was jailed.
Debbie Grafham, now 47 and living in Eastbourne with her family, has waived her right to anonymity after her attacker Patrick Ryan was jailed for 12 years for raping her and her younger sister Laraine when they were both just nine and seven.
She wants to encourage other rape victims who may have stayed silent to report their abuse so that justice can be done.
Sixty-four-year-old Ryan denied charges of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault but was convicted on all counts by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.
The judge in the case described Debbie and Laraine’s experience as “harrowing” and said they should be congratulated for managing to turn their lives around.
The abuse began when Debbie, her sister and her mother lived in Blackheath, London, and Ryan lived in the flat above.
Because their mother worked, the two girls were often left alone at home.
Between 1974 and 1978, Ryan raped the two young sisters and sexually assaulted one of them using a screwdriver.
Debbie saw Ryan rape Laraine and thought that if he raped her instead, her younger sister would be safe.
For years the two sisters kept their secret with Laraine not knowing that Debbie had also been raped.
It was only when Laraine told a nurse some years later and police were called that Debbie revealed she had also been raped.
“I told them that Patrick Ryan had raped me too,” said Debbie. “I thought if I let him rape me, he would Laraine alone but I couldn’t protect her.
“Fear and shame had stopped us speaking out but no more. When it came to court, I was determined to face him. He made me watch him rape my sister. Now he can watch as I tell the world what sort of man he really is.”
“Seeing Patrick for the first time in 40 years, I felt nothing but disgust for him. He looked pathetic.
“I hope he rots in there. Patrick Ryan stole our childhoods, our innocence but he can’t steal our futures.
“I want the world to know what he did to us but also to let other women know that it doesn’t matter how long ago the abuse was, report it so some sort of justice can be done.”
Laraine, who also waived her right to anonymity said, “Speak out, it will be hard but you won’t regret it.”