'Cinderella girl' brutally beaten by step-mum urges other victims to get help

A woman who was brutally beaten by her stepmother and forced to eat vinegar and raw spices said she spoke out in an effort to help others.

Cora Desmond was told by Bridget Kenneally, 49, of Duncoran, Youghal, County Cork, Ireland, that she was like the abused Disney princess Cinderella because she was ‘not wanted or loved’.

Called ‘Cora Ella’ by her stepmother, the young woman was forced to clean up after Kenneally and her kids CorkBeo reports.

She was treated like a ‘punching bag’ and was beaten regularly.

Kenneally even forced Mrs. Desmond to eat a cocktail of hot herbs and spices.

Now the part-time cleaning lady is in prison for two years after carrying out multiple attacks on Mrs. Desmond, now 21, with pokers, belts and spatulas, police said.



The victim said she hoped she would “help others.”

“I will never forgive her for what she did, but I have justice and she’s locked up,” she said The sun.

“I know there are people who go through terrible things, probably worse than what I’ve been through.

“But if I can help a person by speaking out, it’s something.”

Ms. Desmond urged people who are being abused to come forward, even if they thought no one would listen to them.

Her father was unaware of the abuse she suffered until Gardai contacted him, said Ms. Desmond, prompting him to end the relationship.

Kenneally pleaded guilty to one charge against Ms. Desmond between October 1 and October 31, 2009.

Ms. Desmond made a strong statement about the impact of the victim during a sentencing hearing in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

She described the abuse that took place at Kenneally from the age of six to sixteen.

The victim told Judge Sean O’Donnabhain that her father, who had full custody of her, entered into a relationship with Kenneally at the age of five.

At first her new stepmother seemed “nice and caring,” but this honeymoon did not last long.



'Cinderella girl' brutally beaten by step-mum urges other victims to get help

Ms. Desmond said: “About six months after the 11-year relationship, the horrific abuse started with a few blows and bumps, but gradually got worse.

“Over the years it became clear to me that I was nothing more than a punching bag to Bridget.

Her kids can hang out with friends of their choice.

“My sister and I were denied the same freedom every day.

Instead, we were confined to her home to clean up after her and her kids.

“Bridget gave me the name Cora Ella and told me I was like Cinderella because I was the one who was not wanted or loved.”

Ms. Desmond said for eleven years that she lived a double life, locked up at home awaiting the next beating or punishment.

At school she said she was “happy, free, and vibrant,” but that confidence began to fade as the years went by.

She added: “For eleven years she told me that no one would believe me if I spoke up about the vile, sadistic, physical and mental torture she had endured.

“I had to lie about my injuries and tell people I was just a clumsy kid.

One of the many lies I had to tell was how I broke my thumb. The real truth is she broke it.

“She twisted my hand so much it really broke the bone.”

On another occasion, Mrs. Desmond ended up in hospital after being hit on the head.

The stepmother forced her to tell the doctors that she hit it herself.

The grocery store employee, who says she is extremely grateful to Gardai for the sensitivity shown to her in the lead-up to the case, said her childhood involved mental and physical torture.

Mrs. Desmond was afraid to reveal the abuse because Kenneally told her she was going to be separated from her sibling.

Concerns have been expressed over the years by, among others, a principal of a school she attended.

Once a GP found 50 bruises on her body.

Ms. Kenneally was informally interviewed in 2016 and arrested in 2017 after a complaint was filed against her.

She refused to admit Gardai, but eventually filed a guilty plea in the case.

Sgt Ward said the plea was an aid to the court as 14 witnesses would have been involved in a trial.

Attorney Patrick O’Riordan, who represented Ms. Kenneally, said his client had filed an admission of guilt and paid $ 5,000 in damages. He said she was a woman with no previous convictions.



'Cinderella girl' brutally beaten by step-mum urges other victims to get help

The junior attorney told the court that at the time of the crimes, Kenneally was caring for six children and struggling to deal with them.

He said his client had “a long psychiatric history” and would apologize to the victim in the case.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain asked the victim if she thought the apology was genuine. She said she did not believe Kenneally was sorry for her actions.

After reading the psychologist reports, Judge O’Donnabhain said that Kenneally seemed to blame everyone for her actions, except herself.

Judge O’Donnabhain said it was warranted to consider the whole abuse.

He said, “This was a case of ongoing cruelty. This was systemic abuse and cruelty.

“She (Mrs. Desmond) did not have a childhood because of the pain and misery she was subjected to.”

Judge O’Donnabhain jailed Kenneally for two years and said he was shocked by the story of the victim’s hospitalization and forced feeding.

After the conviction, Cora Desmond urged other victims of child abuse to come forward.

She said, ‘I thought I was wasting my time and that she was going to get away with what she did to me, but luckily I got some sort of justice.

It’s something. I would tell people to say something. Don’t be afraid to tell anyone.

Tell someone and get out of the situation sooner rather than later.

‘I was six when it started and sixteen when it was finished.

“I was thin and small and the easiest target. It’s over. I’m out and living my life.”

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