My dad raped me hundreds of times, branded me with a tattoo and made me wear a ring as his 'wife' when I was 13 | The Sun

A MUM has told how she was raped hundreds of times by her dad who made her live as his "wife".

Carol Higgins, now 54, was sexually abused by her father Elliott Appleyard in the 1980s, when she was 13 years old.

He put an engagement ring on her finger and took her to get a tattoo of his nickname on her shoulder as a "branded declaration of love".

Appleyard was finally jailed for 20 years in 2019 for his crimes, which were first reported to police in 1985.

They were committed at the home he shared with his daughter after his wife had left him.

Miss Higgins told the court in 2019 that her father "wanted to treat me like a wife" and told her they would "live together happily ever after".


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She has now written a book, detailing the trial, to raise awareness and help her overcome the "emotional trauma".

The survivor said: "When I was being abused, I thought it was normal for so long. I thought what my dad was doing to me was normal.

"Incest is rife in the UK and there's not enough being done about it."

Miss Higgins said she had to pay £5,400 for the trial transcript to write the book.

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She left school with no qualifications and is dyslexic so she had to pay people to help her with the grammar side of the book, Conquering the Impossible: Justice.

She previously wrote about her battle with bowel cancer and climbing Kilimanjaro.

Carol's father was convicted of five counts of rape and 10 counts of indecent assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A jury of seven women and four men took less than two hours to unanimously find Appleyard guilty of 15 charges following a seven-day trial.

The court heard she first reported the abuse to police in 1985 but was told it would "blacken her name" if she pursued it and would be considered "the biggest s**g going".

Carol, who is now a mum-of-two, went to police again in 2005 and 2012 before a full investigation was finally launched in 2015.

She claims "systemic failures" continue to haunt her, as her father is now in a category C prison and is due to enter an 'open prison' in 2026 – only seven years after his sentencing.

Carol has also opened a civil case against West Yorkshire Police due to the way her case was handled from 2005 to the 2019 trial.

She said: "This is about institutional failing. What message does it send that my father is in a category C prison and will be in an open prison not even ten years after he was sentenced.

"There needs to be a prevention or deterrent but there isn't one. I don't feel like I've been given justice by the justice system, which is why I'm writing this book.

Carol's book Conquering the Impossible: Justice comes out on Sunday and will be available on Amazon or Waterstones.

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West Yorkshire Police were approached for a comment but said: "We're unable to comment due to the ongoing legal proceedings."

  • Victims can contact Rape Crisis England & Wales for help and support – Call free on 0808 500 2222

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