A 19-year-old girl from Rushden, Northamptonshire, shares online the details of the shocking experience she had to face that affected her mental health.
Almost two years ago, Lauren India Brightwood found out that her stepfather had been secretly filming her in the bath for four years.
35-year-old Thomas Craig Lewis will be sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on October 16, 2020.
On November 28, 2018, 17-year-old Lauren was in the bathroom when she saw Craig’s mobile phone in a glass pane above the bathroom door.
The teenager decided to send a message to her mum Michelle, who believed her daughter and called Craig’s parents and the police.
Lauren’s stepfather had been living with her since she was four, he used to bath her, was very caring and loving. Neither Lauren nor Michelle could imagine that Craig had been taking advantage of Lauren for years.
She told the media:
“He basically raised me, I’d known him since I was four, we had any normal father-daughter relationship and I think my mum really struggles because she blames herself.”
The teenager got a traumatic experience that evening, but Craig tried to explain his behavior claiming that “it was the hoover,” “he was just curious of the woman she was turning into,” he thought she was crying.”
Michelle made her husband confess, but she and Lauren were in a real shock to find out the truth about his behavior. Craig’s parents and some friends supported him, while Lauren and her mother had to deal with mental health issues without any support.
In some time, Craig found a new job and a new affair, but Michelle and Lauren were facing isolation, a loss of family, panic attacks, and depression. Lauren even had suicidal thoughts, but she managed to cope with them by speaking up on social media.
She and her mother have changed their surname not to be connected to Craig anymore. Lauren’s Instagram is about her life story, and her account name is “Becoming Brightwood,” which is very symbolic. The girl spreads sexual assault awareness and shares her thoughts about mental health there.
Craig has pleaded guilty to two counts of voyeurism, and his case is still ongoing. Lauren hopes to get justice for his crime.
Michelle is worried that no justice can turn the time back. Her daughter was traumatized by the person they completely trusted, and she had to grow up too quickly.