Judy van Niekerk is a happily married 46-year-old woman now, but her life hasn’t always been good. From the age of 6, Judy says she endured a miserable existence as her father's sexual and domestic slave.
“We lived as husband and wife,” Noah Walsh said in court. This claim by Walsh, like many others of his, was nothing more than a desperate attempt to rationalize why he abused his daughter.
“Most people have happy childhood memories,” she told Daily Mail. “Mine include my dad teaching me to swim and taking me for picnics. But I have a lot of bad ones memories, too.”
Judy’s problems started at age 6 when her mother left the family. From that time on, Walsh directed his abuse at Judy.
“When I was 6 and my dad taught me to box,” she says. “I was only little but he expected me to fight him, even though it hurt me.”
The abuse went far beyond hitting. Walsh stopped Judy from attending school and made her stay home to perform domestic chores. At one point, he shot her in the chest.
“I should have been going to school,” she said, “but he didn’t let me. He said, ‘You have too much to do here.’ I had to stay home and look after my five kid siblings. I had to get up early to make breakfast for everyone, and pack their lunchboxes.”
At night, she says he made her sleep in his bed.
“He threatened me with knives,” she says. “The back-breaking housework left me feeling exhausted. By the evening I was always ready for bed — but my dad had other ideas.
“He made me stay up with him until he wanted to go to bed," Judy continued. "He would then demand that I sleep in his room, and would force himself on me. I was only a kid when he started to sexually assault and rape me. I was in such pain afterwards. He left me feeling confused and totally worthless.”
Judy became pregnant three times by her father. The first time, she miscarried. The second abortion was a home procedure in which Walsh peformed a coat hanger abortion. The third abortion was performed at a clinic.Through it all, Judy managed to hide her suffering from her siblings and the outside world.
When she was 20, she decided she needed to get out. She discretely acquired a credit card, packed her bags, and fled one day while her father was away. A few years later, she gathered the courage to report her father to the police. After an ugly trial, Walsh was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The presiding judge called the case one of the most horrific stories he’d ever heard.
In 2004, four years into Walsh’s prison sentence, Judy received a call saying he was terminally ill. He had cancer. Somewhere in her heart, Judy felt pulled to find closure with him. She went to pay him a final visit.
“I hated seeing him suffer and he was pleased to see me,” she says. “He was confused about why I'd reported him to police, though. But it didn't upset me, or make me angry. I couldn't judge him. I told him, ‘I love you’ and he said it back.
“After he died, I was sad. He was still my dad. I was pleased I'd got to see him one last time. I had complete love and compassion for him. But finally, I was at peace.”