As soon as social worker left sisters ‘beaten until they bled’ on first day at orphanage
Three sisters were beaten until they bled and called derogatory names on their first day at an orphanage, an inquiry has heard.
The claims were made by a woman in her 60s, who cannot be named, who lived at Nazareth House in Aberdeen from 1967.
Speaking at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, she told how nuns at the Catholic-run home put on a pretence of niceness when the sisters were dropped off by a social worker, but this changed as soon as they left.
The witness, who was the eldest and aged 10 at the time, while the youngest was a toddler, said: “We got up to the second floor and it just started, really quite severe.
“Hitting, punching, hitting you on your ears.
“We were Glasgow tinks, we were whores, we were sluts.”
The witness added that they were “battered” until they were left bleeding all over their bodies.
She described a routine of physical and mental abuse throughout her time in care.
The inquiry heard that when she started her period aged 11 she was told by a nun she would “be dead by midnight”, so her and other children were left watching the clock that night waiting for her to die.
She described another instance where she says she was so badly beaten she started “foaming at the mouth”, with her head being smashed against a radiator.
She said: “I was on the ground, I was foaming at the mouth and I know I was going in and out of consciousness.
“Kicking, kicking, kicking, kicking, banged my head off the radiator – that’s when I went down, my head was exploding.”
The witness said she was sent first to Nazareth House in Cardonald, which she believes to have been in 1965.
She said her time at that home taught her to be “wary, be on your guard”.
On her experience in Aberdeen, she said: “That’s the place that broke me.”
She left the home in 1971, according to records, and told how a nun made a final “dig” at her on her way out of Nazareth House.
The witness told the inquiry: “She said the next time she’d see me I would have a squad of brats at my feet and that I wouldn’t get far in life.”
Senior counsel to the inquiry, Colin MacAulay QC, told how one of the nuns had denied all the allegations made against her.
The woman said there were some nuns at the home who were nice and would stand up for her, including one who she kept in touch with through letters after leaving care.
Another witness, who cannot be named, said he had carried “hurt, pain and anguish for many years” after his time at Nazareth House in Aberdeen.
The man, who is in his late 50s, entered the orphanage in 1963.
He told the inquiry how nuns would take out their frustrations on children by regularly beating them.
The witness said: “There was anger in it. For me, looking back, there was a lot of frustration on their parts.
He added: “I stand here today not as a victim, but as a survivor of systematic abuse of that Scottish care system in the 1960s and 1970s that most definitely took place.”
The inquiry before Lady Smith (pictured) continues in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
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