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This Tangled Web


By Kate Swift

ISBN: 9781849912761
Published: 2010
Pages: 110
Key Themes: poetry, sexual abuse, mental illness


‘This Tangled Web’ is one woman’s journey from victim to survivor. It is the untangling of a web created by the pain of childhood sexual abuse. The author brings you to the centre of the web through her poetry and art, allowing you to see the journey through her eyes. This book has been written with other survivors in mind. It was always Kate’s desire to one day use her poetry for the benefit of other survivors. Remembering her own unquenchable thirst for knowledge and something to relate to…this is one woman’s attempt to untangle the web and help other survivors to achieve this too.

About the Author

Kate Swift was born into a family of 5 other siblings in the spring of 1977. Kate’s early years were not a great introduction into family life and the world around her. Her father worked hard and drank even harder, coming home to sleep off the alcohol. For Kate as a child of 3-4-5 he was a loud and scary person who ranted and raved. Kate found solace by hiding under the table until the shouting was done. Kate was a mummy’s girl, she adored and idolised her mother. Whilst her father was someone she felt never particularly wanted her. Kate enjoyed school and thrived on the love of her mother.

Life was never quiet with 5 other siblings around and the ups and downs of every day living. When Kate was in her 8th Year she was just like any other child… enjoying school, playing with her dolls, drawing pictures, making mud pies…just being a child until the day her life would change forever. The day her older brother placed his hand somewhere she had never been touched before. It was the school summer holidays…a bright sunny day and they were watching cartoons on television. That was the beginning of the end of her childhood and what followed was a further 8 years of being sexually abused. Kate would be woken up in the middle of the night by him climbing into her bed. In her sleepy state she would be told what was expected of her…not always with words in fact often with silent physical prompting. Always when he got what he wanted from her, he would turn and walk away never looking back or speaking. Kate was left with her soft toys for comfort. It won’t surprise you to know she suffered nightmares and was so afraid of the dark. Night times held a ritual for Kate; before she would go upstairs to bed she would send her dad up. What did she want him to check for? I guess her parents thought they were checking for ‘monsters’ under the bed. Her curtains had to be shut tight-no gaps, the light had to be on, the windows locked. Kate was trying to feel safe in a world where the danger was inside the house and silent. The sexual abuse was everything from touching to rape. Kate never knew when next he would come to abuse her. She would listen out for the floor board that creaked in a certain spot on the landing. No time of the day or night was off bounds to him depending on the availability of his victim and the right opportunity. Life continued as normally as was possible for Kate in between these times. Looking back their were signs that adults could have picked up on but for whatever reasons missed.

When Kate was 15 years old the ordered chaos in her mind descended into complete terror and panic. Here she was…a student at senior school…who thought she was expecting her brother’s baby. The torment was too much and after several weeks of silent hell, Kate told. The secret that she had carried since she was 8 years old was written on a piece of paper and handed to her English teacher. Until then Kate had no idea what the words ‘sexual abuse’ was, she did not know about ‘child protection and ‘social services’. The following morning she knew what all those phrases and people were about.

Her Head Teacher sent her to the local baby clinic in her school uniform for a pregnancy test. The mothers with their babies, the women with their judging looks…a silly school girl who made a mistake. Kate’s fear was thankfully wrong and she was not expecting her brothers child. Kate was placed on the child protection register and her mother chose for her to go into foster care. After 6 months living in foster care Kate was allowed to return home…only for her brother to attempt to abuse her again less than one month into her return. Kate remained at home and her abuser left. The title of this book is the very essence of childhood sexual abuse…it is a tangled web. During the untangling of the web for Kate she learnt that her brother had been sexually assaulted by a family ‘friend’. In the years since Kate has been on a journey to survive what happened to her. To make sense of it, to heal the pain, to ease the nightmares and to rid herself of shame.

Book Extract


Who will believe me, who will listen if I tell?
They cannot understand and I want to hide inside a shell
The thought of a life inside me makes me feel so wild
I could not be a mother to his child
What will happen to me, what will happen to him?
Whichever why I turn it all looks so grim
Surely it's my fault, my own stupidity
The only person to blame is me
If only they know it wouldn't be a secret any more
But it is hidden away behind a locked door
I want to ask him why
I want someone to hold me when I cry
I cannot tell, not today
Tomorrow, yes tomorrow I will tell
I wonder if tomorrow really will be the day I
break the silence?

Mothers to be and mothers with babies in their care
Looking at the school girl waiting there
In the place of joy and motherhood
Trying to accept the prospect of a baby, no she never could
All adults but for the girl in that place before her time
Foolish girl so they think, knowing nothing of his crime
& you have probably never felt shame like it in your life
The looks that cut her bleeding heart with an assuming knife
Why was she there in school uniform with the babes and mothers to be?
Her years of abuse, violation and rape they did not see
Still she was so cheap in their eyes
Yet she is just a babe herself for who self respect and dignity dies.

I stood before you
Your daughter



I stood before you

You looked at me and said

I cannot hug you

But you sat and hugged my
abusers shirt instead.

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  • Model: paperback
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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 August, 2010.

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