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Orpington convent girl reveals abusive schooldays in first book

PUBLISHED: 15:13 22 November 2012

Rosalinda with her book

Rosalinda with her book

Archant

As an 11-year-old, Rosalinda Hutton's time spent at an Orpington convent during the 1960s left her traumatised and scarred.

Her formative years at St Anne’s in Bishop Butt Close were ones she vowed never to forget and through her book, Cry And You Cry Alone, she found a form of “revenge”.

She said: “It was a completely freaky place and felt as though you were going from colour to black and white as soon as you walked through the doors.

“There was abuse there all the time. I remember a two-year-old girl that was hit so hard by a nun that she flew off her chair and into the corner of the room.

“I stood in front of that nun to stop her doing it and was hit. I don’t mean slapping, I’m talking about real punches and kicking.”

The extract referring to the incident reads: “She smashed the fist into the left-hand side of my face, and I heard it crunch and could feel my cheek swelling as I reeled from the blow.”

Sleeping in dormitories under the gaze of Sister Consolata and Uncle Peter, Rosalinda would struggle to make sense of some experiences until years later.

“Mortification of the body is good for the soul” was a phrase often used at St Anne’s, though she says she never understood how pain could be “joyous”.

First published last year, the 55-year-old’s memoirs are soon to hit stores across the USA and Canada following a stint in WH Smith’s bestseller list.

The book culminates in Rosalinda’s attempts to win a lawsuit against the Catholic Church for behaviour that she says resulted in years of manic depression.

“I had put it out of my mind for a long, long time,” she said. “It has taken years of therapy to sort out.”

An epiphany dragged Rosalinda, from Darenth, out of a dark period in 1999, when, at the age of 39, she decided to go back to college and pursue her dream career as a writer.

Graduating from both North West Kent College and Greenwich University, a flair for writing came naturally to the author who has been nominated for two Sony Radio Awards.

She said: “I had always wanted to be a writer since I was a small child and there was never any doubt in my mind as to whether I could do it. I wanted revenge and I said I would remember everything that happened to me at St Anne’s.

“I will be going over to America when the book goes on sale – it really is a dream of a lifetime.”

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