Hollyoaks storyline forced me to confront paedo uncle who abused me up to six times a day when I was in primary school

Here she bravely waives her right to anonymity to share her harrowing story…

WE sunk into the sofa and my partner, Ryan Horan (33) switched on Channel 4, just as the credits started to roll.

It was a familiar routine. Our three-year-old daughter Lula three jumped onto my lap and the three of us settled down to watch our favourite soap, Hollyoaks.

But today was different. A storyline was unfolding about Pete Buchanan sexually abusing his step-daughter, Cleo McQueen.

As I watched, I felt a sickening knot tighten in my stomach.

A dark secret I’d buried since childhood was coming back to haunt me. Because Cleo’s story was just like mine.

My Uncle Russell had put me through the same ordeal when I was just a small child.

“Turn it off!” I blurted out. “This is disgusting!”

Ryan and Lula turned to face me, shocked. I ran to the bedroom and slammed the door shut.

“What is it Corrina, what’s wrong?” Ryan pleaded. I eventually came out but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth.

As the storyline unravelled over the coming weeks, I kept having to leave the room.

It got to the point where I could barely stand to watch my favourite soap.

“Come on, whatever it is, you know you can tell me,” Ryan quizzed gently.

I hadn’t told a soul about what my Uncle Russell did to me all those years earlier, but suddenly the floodgates opened.

I watched as Ryan’s face turned to horror as I told him my story.

As a kid, visiting my nan at the weekend used to be the highlight of my week. She’d take me on day trips while my parents worked, and I loved spending time with her.

But her son, Russell Shimwell, then in his thirties, gave me the creeps. He’d sit on his own listening to classical music and something about him made me feel uneasy.

I was six when he kissed me on the lips while Nan was busy making my tea. I didn’t know what to make of it, but as soon as Nan came back in the room, Uncle Russell darted off.

Then one day, Russell sat me on the bed, took my hand and placed it on his private parts. I didn’t like it, and it felt wrong, but how could it be if Uncle Russell said it was fine?

I loved messing around in Nan’s room, putting on her old dresses and make-up and prancing around, but my uncle would follow me in and make me touch him.

Uncle Russell, who worked as a bricklayer, would try to kiss me any time Nan went out of the room. Any time we were upstairs alone, he would grab my hand and force it onto his penis.

“Why don’t we take the dog for a walk?” Uncle Russell would suggest, turning to me. “That’s a nice idea, a bit of fresh air for both of you,” Nan said smiling.

But inwardly, I’d wince. Because as soon as we were outside, at the allotment, or in the greenhouse, Russell would abuse me.

Sometimes this would happen five or six times a day. I never liked it, but as I got older I began to realise what he was doing was wrong.

I became clever at making sure I was never alone with him. By the time I was 11, I was out seeing my friends, so I had the excuse to avoid going to see my nan, and Uncle Russell.

It was painful to neglect Nan. She must have thought I’d outgrown her, but the truth was, I just couldn’t face her sick son.

On the odd occasion I did go and see her I was strong enough to face down Russell. I was 13 when he tried to touch my bum.

I grabbed his hand and gave him such a look I knew he’d never bother me again.

I really wanted to tell someone about the abuse, but I never found the right moment. And in time, I vowed to bury my secret deep inside.

As I hit my teens, I was terrible with boyfriends. I just couldn’t trust anyone. But meeting Ryan changed my life.

And right now, he was my rock. “We have to go to the police,” he begged. “What your uncle did was so wrong.”

I tried to protest, worried about how it would affect my family.

But Ryan wasn't taking no for an answer, and the next morning he frogmarched me to up the local police station.

After an exhausting interview, I saw my mum. She sobbed – she’d had no idea.

That was the worst part. She blamed herself for letting me stay there, but it was no one else’s fault but Russell’s.

The police interviewed Russell and charged him. The date was set for the trial, but my ordeal was far from over.

My Nan, who had been like a second mother to me, disowned me. She couldn’t believe her beloved son could do such horrific things.

It was devastating to lose such an important person in my life, but by now I was so determined. I had to see it through.

At the trial in May 2017, Russell claimed I was making it all up, that he had nothing to do with me growing up and never went near me. Liar!

I was boiling with rage, and after the day’s evidence, Mum and I rushed home and scoured the house until we found the proof that would nail him.

The next day in court, the prosecution held up a photo we had found of me as a child sitting on Russell’s lap, smiling innocently.

The pictures proved Russell, now 59, was lying about having nothing to do with me, and later that day the jury unanimously convicted him of seven counts of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 16, and jailed him for three years.

I didn’t get to see his face as the judge passed sentence, but I heard the anguish in his voice as he tried to deny what was so plainly true.

He had tormented me, but now he was just a sad old man, finally facing justice for his past.

The stress of the trial took its toll on my relationship and Ryan and I separated. I’ve also lost the Nan who I grew up with, who’s never accepted the truth.

It’s a heavy price to pay for justice, but one that I’d do again if I had to.

Now I’m moving on and focusing on Lula and my son Alfie (10). I’m so grateful those photos were taken; my sick uncle Russell forgot one thing – the camera never lies.

We previously told how a mum abused from the age of eight by her paedo uncle recalled how he drugged her, raped her and "dressed her up like a hooker".

We also reported how a mum recalled the horror of being attacked by her pervert uncle at a Premier Inn after he plied her with booze and forced her to share a bed with him.

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