A SENIOR Fife councillor has told the Press why she decided to speak out about the impact of abuse she suffered as a child.

Dunfermline South’s Fay Sinclair made the revelation when urging her colleagues to support a motion raising awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

In an emotional speech, she said the abuse had lasted for two years, however, it took a further eight years before she “finally felt able” to report it.

Another eight years passed before she returned to the police to discover “there was no record of that first statement”, adding: “I’m sure him being a police officer was not coincidence.”

She told councillors that a further 10 hours were spent being interviewed by officers “to record as many shame-filled details as I could remember” for the three-year-long police investigation.

The matter was drawn to a conclusion through a phone call lasting four minutes and 44 seconds where she was informed the alleged abuser had been interviewed and released without charge.

“I think including the times in that was quite an important part of it,” Cllr Sinclair told the Press. “We talk about adverse childhood experiences and the point of this is early experiences change the way you react to things.

“The idea that the abuse I suffered in my childhood went on for two years but, at the end of these two years, it didn’t stop. It has an effect and a changing effect.

“When I went to the police, I had to disclose it to my family. They didn’t know about it.”

“It is not just a case of here’s something that happened in your childhood. All these things continue with you and then it is something that never goes away.

“They released him without charge but that doesn’t mean that is the end of the story. It was my word against someone else’s. It could come forward again if other victims came forward.”

Cllr Sinclair said her decision to speak out was aimed at highlighting the ongoing work to help those with ACEs. Since doing so, she has received widespread support.

“It is one of these things that it is not a secret but I have not really talked about it. My friends and people I am close to know a bit of what happened in my childhood.

“Standing up in a chamber in front of 70-odd councillors was a new challenge but I think it was important to bring a personal aspect in.

“Particularly for the ACE movement, having that personal experience is the most powerful way to get the message out. You put yourself into a very vulnerable position when you open up about something like that.

“To do that in order to raise awareness of something bigger, people recognise that you are not just paying lip service to the latest education thing. This is something I really believe in and it is really important to get that across.

“Another part of deciding to bring this forward is I am lucky enough to have a platform. I have a voice that other people maybe do not have. Since, I have been approached by other people who have said ‘me too’ but couldn’t speak about it.

“That has made me feel it was the right thing to do.”

Cllr Sinclair is keen to stress that ACEs can happen to anyone and said work was ongoing across Fife to recognise and help those who have been affected.

“I came from a nice family, there were no issues in my family but this was someone from outside,” she added.

“On the face of it, I was achieving at school but all of this was going on for me at that time.

“People in schools need to be alert to that, then there is a chance to pick that up. The work going on in Fife is about making sure every child has a trusted adult they can talk to and then equipping adults with the knowledge and training they need to be able to understand that and to be that listener for children.

“As a result of my abuse, I was self-harming when at school. When I think back, it was not noticed. I think now, the awareness is there and that sort of thing would be noticed instead of thinking it is just a teenage girl being emotional.”