'There is a light at the end of the tunnel': Sex abuse survivor Kim Chown pens inspirational book about years of torment by her Leeds university father who raped her and threatened to dissolve her body in acid

A woman who was subjected to years of cruel and terrifying sexual abuse by her father has written an inspirational book to give hope to other abuse victims.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 1:04 pm

It is three years since Kim Chown saw Francis Beaumont finally brought to justice over the decades of misery and suffering he put his daughter through.

Kim gave evidence at Beaumont's trial at Leeds Crown Court where he was locked up for 20 years after a jury found him guilty of a series of rape offences.

In May 2018, Kim bravely waived her right to anonymity and spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post in the hope of becoming an ambassador for abuse victims.

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Kim Chown has written a book about her experiences of coping with years of sex abuse by her university lecturer father Francis Beaumont. PICTURE: James Hardisty

The 56-year-old grandmother has her first book, Who Will Believe You?, published later this month.

It is an account of her traumatic past and how she has managed to build a happy life against all odds.

The book tells the story of Beaumont's abuse, which continued for more than a decade of her childhood and into her adulthood.

Kim was just 11 when her father, a university lecturer, took her from her mother to Kenya.

Kim Chown with her new book Who Will Believe You? PICTURE: James Hardisty

There, he tormented Kim with extreme sexual and emotional abuse.He made her pregnant, performed DIY abortions on her, force-fed her whisky and threatened to kill her by dissolving her body in a bath of acid.

The abuse was carried out safe in the knowledge that - as a pillar of the expat community - his word would be believed over hers.

Beaumont, also known as Bernard Beaumont, continued to abuse his daughter when they returned to live in Guiseley, Leeds, and raped her up until the age of 20.

Despite going on to create a new life, and a new family with her husband Jonathan, Beaumont still tried to exert control over Kim.

Kim Chown hopes her book about surviving sexual abuse will give inspiration to other victims. PICTURE: James Hardisty

Spiralling into alcoholism, Kim almost lost her life, but finally found the strength to bring her father to justice.

With the support of Jonathan and her adult children, she was finally able to reveal who her father really was when she gave evidence against him in court.

Kim told the YEP how she decided to become an author and pen the book to help other victims.

She said: "The book is primarily about closure for me. But it is also to raise awareness of this largely-hidden, dreadful scourge on our society.

Kim Chown. PICTURE: James Hardisty

"Whether or not fellow survivors have had the strength to confront the evil that they have all suffered, I'm there as a voice for them.

"I have had letters from people - even people in their 90s - who have said 'I didn't have the courage to do this'

"When you look at the news you see so many reports of domestic abuse victims during lockdown.

"It's not just sexual abuse. It is all forms of abuse, both male and female.

"I think it has been under-reported but once lockdown ends I think it will be massive.

"It is so important that people can report this and that they are going to be listened to."

Kim Chown PICTURE: James Hardisty

Kim said she decided to write the book after the positive response to her decision to tell her story three years ago.

She said: "It was all new to me, including letting go of the anonymity. I didn't really know what any of that meant.

"That was my first time in court and it wasn't the best time.

"It was actually the comments of readers that gave me the encouragement. I was inundated.

"Even reading it in the paper, it was like it was happening to someone else and not me.

"That's what made me think: 'You have to write a book. This is so important.'"

"I have learned so much about myself in those three years.

"When my father was put away for 20 years I felt so guilty for months and months afterwards.

"I thought: 'Gosh I have taken his life away. He's an old man, he might die in prison.'

"But after time I realised he deserves to be where he is.

"He deserves to be behind bars.

"I have begun to realise he's a monster. How dare he do that and think he can get away with it?

"Suddenly I felt very happy at where he was."

Kim, who now lives in County Durham and runs a successful business, has been sober for four years since going into into rehab shortly after reporting her father to the police.

Describing her life since the court case, she said: "It's getting easier. But it's not easy.

"By getting justice, it doesn't mean that life is suddenly joyous. It just makes life easier knowing that justice has been done.

"It has made things a lot easier.

"I awake on a morning now and I look forward to life. Even if it's raining outside, I look out and I look forward to the day.

"Whereas before, I thought: 'What the hell. What's the point in living?'

"I don't want other people to feel like that. Because there is a life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

"What I have done isn't right for everybody. But it was right for me.

"Writing the book was cathartic. I needed closure.

"I had so many people saying to me: 'Now the trial is done you can move on.'

"But how on earth do you move on from that? I can't move on from that but I can put closure to it.

"People might think that is the same thing but it isn't the same thing.

"To me, moving on is moving on - shutting it all off.

"But I need that closure to get on with the final chapters in my life."

Kim describes the many obstacles she faced in making the decision to finally report the abuse.

She explained: "I still get people asking me why it took me all that time.

"But was I going to be believed? What evidence did I have?

"It was my word against his. He lied to start with and then he lied again in court.

"There are all of these factors. And then you don't want people to hear the truth about you because you feel dirty.

"You feel ashamed. You have got this baggage.

"But also for me, it wasn't just the sexual abuse - I am an alcoholic.

"He brought this upon me and I am ashamed of that fact - probably more ashamed - that I was an alcoholic.

"I didn't want people knowing that about me. I was in denial for years and years about it.

"The book isn't just about my abuse.

"There is a heck of a lot about alcoholism in there. About how it nearly killed me. About how it destroyed me. About how I came to terms with it and what I needed to do.

"How I wasn't going to just lock myself away from this man that has done this to me. I was going to face him in court."

The police were saying they would put me behind a curtain in court, but I thought: 'Why shouldn't I face him'?

"It was hard. But why should I hide away? I have hidden away all of my life.

"It's so important that people should feel they can come forward and report these things.

"I have been so privileged that I have been able to do it.

"It shouldn't just be me. I think everybody has the right to report this and be heard and be listened to.

"He threatened to kill me. He stuck a carrier bag over my head so many times. So much so that I could not breathe.

"He threatened to dissolve me in acid. And I believed him. I really, really did believe him.

"I was that little girl alone in Kenya and I was absolutely petrified.

"For me each day was survival.

"If there is one person I can help by writing that book - just one person - it is one person who might just be able to get on with their life.

"I'm not saying that prosecuting one's perpetrator is the best way forward for everyone.

"But I certainly believe that no matter how long ago the crime, you should have the opportunity to do what I did.

"I was given a lifeline by West Yorkshire Police and I took it.

"If I had not taken it I would not be here now.

"It would have killed me in the end."

Kim said she believes he father has never shown any remorse for the abuse.

She continued: "I don't expect an apology from him.

"He's a narcissist. I really don't think he likes women.

"He has just hidden behind this veneer of respectability.

"That is why I have called the book Who Will Believe You?

"Because that is what he used to say to me - 'Who will believe you?'"

"I was petrified of him.

"This really is about helping other people as much as I can.

"If I can stop other people going through what I went through then I will do whatever it takes."

Who Will Believe You?, published by Bonnier Books UK, is available from April 15.