A woman who was abused by her stepmother for more than a decade has urged other abuse victims to speak out.

Cora Desmond, 21, was speaking after 49-year old Bridget Kenneally of Duncorn, Youghal, Co Cork, was jailed for two years.

Speaking to RTÉ News from her home in Youghal, Ms Desmond described how the abuse started, after her father began a relationship with Bridget Kenneally when she was aged five.

"I was force-fed things like salt, vinegar, pepper, mustard, chilli powder - all of that - it was always mixed into my food and there were excessive amounts of it," Ms Desmond recalls. 

"The beatings were with anything she could get her hands on, like a wooden spoon, a fire poker, a belt - anything really she could get her hands on."

Ms Desmond says the beatings had a severe impact on her, both physically and psychologically.

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"I've had a broken thumb. I've been hospitalised. I spent over a week in hospital back in 2009 because of a head injury due to a beating," she says.

"Psychologically, it's exhausting to go through it and, even now, to fight on through everything. I've been suffering with depression, anxiety, the whole lot since I was young, and it still affects me to this day."

Ms Desmond says Bridget Kenneally blamed her for the abuse, telling her she deserved it and it was her own fault. She said Bridget Kenneally used to call her "Cora Ella", like Cinderella, because she was not wanted or loved.

"I know now that it wasn't my fault and I didn't deserve any of it," Ms Desmond says.

Bridget Kenneally was jailed for two years

She eventually approached gardaí in Youghal and made a complaint, after confiding in her mother one day when she was 16 years of age.

She explained that she felt compelled to stay silent up to then because of fear and threats. She says she led a double life for more than a decade to hide the abuse. She says she lied about her injuries.

"There will always be someone there to listen and there will always be somebody there to help you."

"As a child no, because I was too scared to," Ms Desmond responds, when asked if she ever sought help. "I was constantly threatened that if I ever spoke out nobody would believe me and that she'd kill me, or that I would be separated from my Dad and my sister. As a child you don't want that, so I was too afraid to speak out."

Ms Desmond describes her life with Bridget Kenneally as hell on earth.

"You didn't know what you were going to get every day," Ms Desmond says. "You didn't know what kind of a mood she'd be in, so it was kind of a guessing game as to what mood she was in, how bad is it going to be today. It was torture."

Ms Desmond describes the four years since she made her complaint until yesterday's conviction of Bridget Kenneally at the Circuit Criminal on a charge of assault causing harm as a long journey.

"It's the scariest thing you will ever do to speak out, but it's probably the best thing you will do for yourself."

But she is urging others who have gone through abuse or who are currently going through abuse to speak out and to confide in someone they trust.

"Just speak out," Ms Desmond says. "There will always be someone there to listen and there will always be somebody there to help you. It's the scariest thing you will ever do to speak out, but it's probably the best thing you will do for yourself."

She says she is thankful to her "amazing" family for helping her to cope with what she has been through. 

"I know that they're all behind me and all my friends. There are amazing counsellors out there who have been helping me. It's been a long road, but I've had plenty help."

Ms Desmond says Bridget Kenneally controlled her past, but she will not dictate her future.

She says she is looking forward to a future that will be happy and free.