A woman whose mother tried to kill her twice as a child won the right for herself and hundreds of others to sue for damages after a lengthy legal battle.
Monica Allan, 55, from East Kilbride, was just a small child when her mother Betty Mount pushed her head under running bathroom taps and tried to strangle her.
It wasn’t until years later that she discovered that her mother had also tried to kill her as a baby. In 1976, Mount was charged with attempted murder and jailed.
Monica was transferred to foster care for the rest of her childhood, where she suffered severe physical and sexual abuse.
Monica was told that she could not claim compensation for personal injury due to the ‘same roof’ rule. Under the rule, crime victims who lived with their attacker were not eligible for payouts.
Monica Allan, 5 years old – this is her only childhood photo. Her mother Betty tried to kill her twice when she was young, once as a baby and again when she was just young.
Monica with her daughter Beth, 29, seen here at a birthday party, carried her dark secrets with her for 40 years until she finally decided to seek justice in 2010.
A circa 1976 newspaper clipping reporting Monica’s mother Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Mount attempting to kill her five-year-old daughter
The law was changed in 1979, but that didn’t help Monica, because in her case the crime happened earlier.
But Monica refused to be stopped and in 2019 she finally took the British government to the High Court and won a historic victory, meaning she – and thousands of others – can now claim damages.
She has now received compensation for her foster care ordeal and is awaiting a settlement regarding her mother’s abuse.
Monica’s book ‘Abandoned’, which tells the story of her struggle, is out this week.
Mum of four, Monica, says: “For so long I thought the abuse was normal. As a kid I thought I had done something wrong and that’s why people were so mean to me.
Only now, with the court’s victory, do I feel justified. I finally have a voice. The court’s ruling means that hundreds, even thousands, of others can now come forward and file a claim. It’s about more than money, it’s about being believed.’
Monica’s mother, Betty, was an alcoholic who had a turbulent relationship with Monica’s father, Jimmy. When Monica was five, the family went to visit friends for an evening. While they were there, Betty tried to strangle her daughter under the bath taps.
Monica says, “My mom took me into the bathroom to use the toilet, but instead she closed the door, turned on the bath faucets, and dragged my head under the water. She squeezed my neck and I gasped and choked on the water, I thought I was going to die.’
Monica was placed in foster care and took nothing but a baby bottle with her. And here her ordeal only got worse.
Her new parents had a ruthless regime. To the outside world, the family was devoutly religious and respectable, but behind closed doors, Monica was physically and sexually abused.
Monica in 2015, five years after she started fighting to change the law. The mother of four has taken her case to the Supreme Court and was recently awarded compensation from CICA for the abuse she endured in foster care
Ms Allen has fought for years to change the law that previously ruled that victims who shared a roof with their abusers were ineligible for compensation. Seen here just after she won her case
Monica says, “They were mean to me. I wore second-hand clothes and I had nothing of my own. My foster father gave me vicious beatings if I didn’t finish my meals.
“I missed my mother and my grandmother very much and I was always begging to go home.”
Monica was sexually assaulted by her foster brother, but kept quiet, fearing no one would take her side.
She says: ‘I had lost all sense of myself. I thought I didn’t matter. I struggled with the idea that neither my real family nor my foster family liked or loved me.’
Alone in the world, Monica moved into her own house at the age of 17 and had four children. Monica loved her children dearly, but constantly battled demons from her past.
She carried her dark secrets with her for 40 years until in 2010, haunted by her trauma, she finally decided to seek justice.
She says, “I was trying to sort things out from my past and it wasn’t until I got my Social Services records that I found out that my mom had tried to kill me twice. I had no idea of the attack all those years as a baby.’
She was told she could not claim damages because of the “same roof” rule, meaning victims who lived with their attackers until 1979 were not eligible for payouts.
For the past 12 years, Monica has been fighting her case in the Supreme Court and was recently awarded damages by CICA for the sexual abuse she suffered in foster care. She is waiting for a second settlement for her mother’s assaults.
Glasgow-based law firm Legal Services Agency helped Monica fight her case.
They argued that for human rights reasons it was illegal not to allow her to claim damages.
Attorney Kirsti Nelson said: ‘The courts have recognized that it is discriminatory to prevent people from claiming damages because of the same roof rule.
“The government has yet to change the criminal injury compensation scheme to allow other victims to file a claim, but in the meantime, Monica will be able to file her claim.”
Kirsti and Monica think this turning point in the law could make a big difference for other crime victims.
Monica added, “People don’t have to go through the emotional trauma of being beaten back under the same roofline.
“I felt the rule was wrong. I found it quite offensive. My right was taken away from me and I found that disturbing and upsetting.
“I’m overjoyed to be a part of the government making that decision.”
Monica’s book, Abandoned, is out later this week.