Kim Haughton’s haunting journey to sites of sexual abuse

For Dave Dineen, the childhood experience of being abused physically by his mother and sexually by his brother in a council house in Ballyphehane, Cork, informs the work he now does as founder of the Lámh Healing foundation. The group helps others come to terms with the often devastating effects of child abuse. To measure the extent of Dineen’s extraordinary journey, one has only to listen to his testimony – Haughton has recorded the recollections of several of her subjects. “It is not for the faint-hearted,” she warns me. Dineen’s words do indeed echo in my head for days.

In one brooding landscape, titled The Graveyard, Haughton frames an ancient yew tree looming over Deansgrange cemetery, Dublin. This is where Fiona Doyle was raped as a child by her father. Her testimony reads: “He wouldn’t say anything. He didn’t lie me down, it was up against a tree, and all I remember is the fear – the fear of somebody coming along and catching us.” Doyle had her portrait taken at the cemetery by Haughton. “It was the first time she had been there in 33 years,” says Haughton. “It is moments like that when you feel such a weight of responsibility, and you hope your work can somehow carry that weight.” It does.

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