Oldham Victim Writes Book About Nuns’ Abuse

Victim Marie Hargreaves, 66, from Oldham has written a book called “The Convent”, about the abuse she suffered by Nuns at the Greenfield House Convent, St Helens.

The abuse took place in the late 1950s when she was just 6 years old.

Marie suffered physical and emotional abuse by Sister Isobel O’Brien.

The book details the horrific abuse she suffered, and the sexual abuse by other resident girls whilst she was placed there from 1959 to 1962.

Other complaints were made against Sister O’Brien and the police were carrying out their investigations.

However, she died before she could face justice.

The Roman Catholic Church confirmed that they were aware of the complaint against Sister O’Brien and have apologised to Marie.

Marie has waived her right to anonymity in the hope that she can reach other victims of abuse.

Her book will be released this week.

Marie said: “What happened to me when I was a child was evil, brutal.”

“By telling my story, I feel all the shame and blame has been taken away from me.”

Marie was one of ten children, living in poverty in Oldham, and her parents were sadly forced to give her and her brother up.

In the book Marie describes the strict atmosphere at the convent and the details of the abuse she suffered, and the grueling regime that was in place.

She recalls that every time she spoke up for herself, she would be beaten.

If she cried, she would get beaten until she stopped.

The sexual abuse was by 12-13 year old girls.

They would get into her bed and abuse her.

Marie said: “I actually thought it was normal.”

“I had no idea what was going on.”

“I thought at the time that the older girls were monsters, now, looking back, I realise that they were victims, just as I was.”

In 1962, the convent closed down and Marie and her brother Fred were sent back home.

Marie describes how she struggled to open up to her family about the abuse and how she withdrew from them.

Marie has suffered with anxiety and flashbacks leading to depression throughout her adulthood.

She feels that she has struggled with motherhood due to the abuse, as she did not know how to bond.


Abuse investigation of Nun, Sister Isobel O’Brien

In 2015, Marie was contacted by police, who were investigating claims of abuse against Sister Isobel O’Brien, as part of Operation Cleopatra.

She says: “It was no surprise that other kids had suffered at her hands.”

“I told them what I could – but I still couldn’t talk about the sexual abuse.”

“They told me she was going to be held to account, but the next contact I had was to say she had died before she could face the court.”

“I was too late for justice.”

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Birmingham said it had publicly apologised to all victims of child sexual abuse involving the church during the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

A spokeswoman added: “The Archdiocese is committed to safeguarding and the door is open for all survivors to meet Archbishop Bernard Longley to talk about their experiences if they wish.”

“In relation to this particular case, the Archdiocese safeguarding team were informed of the allegation made by the individual.”

“The safeguarding co-ordinator in post at the time (2016) spoke at length with the individual and explored support which could be helpful to her.”

“This included meeting with the Sisters of Charity of St Paul.”


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