A FORMER Kerelaw student has bravely spoken out about the appalling abuse she suffered at the residential school as a teenager.

She spoke to the Times after two former teachers at the Stevenston school were jailed for a total of 28 years.

Irvine man John Muldoon was sent down for 12 years at the High Court in Dundee this month.

And the North Ayrshire woman’s main tormentor, Matt George, from Largs, was caged for 16 years.

The woman, who the Times has agreed not to identify, still suffers from post-traumatic stress after her horrific experiences.

She said: “In a way, 16 years is justice. But no amount of time will ever, ever erase the struggles that I’ve had to endure over the past 35 years – the struggles that I deal with presently and will have to face in the future.

READ MORE: Kerelaw abusers Matthew George and John Muldoon jailed for total of 28 years

“In a sense, I have done 35 years of a life sentence after my time spent at Kerelaw, struggling to deal with the consequences of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that I suffered from there.

“Thirty-five years of believing that It was my fault and I deserved everything that happened to me there. Thirty-five years of being left behind, always being at the back of the queue, believing that I didn’t deserve to be anywhere else.

“Thirty-five years of self-loathing, believing I was nothing more of a worthless piece of cr*p.

“Thirty-five years of family and so-called friends turning their back on me. Not understanding my mental health struggles.

“Thirty-five years of struggling to deal with thoughts of suicide, self-harming and suicide attempts.

“Thirty-five years of being too frightened to go into supermarkets, too frightened to attend social events, too frightened to close doors and too frightened to go to sleep without some sort of night light on.

“Thirty-five years of finding it difficult to trust people. Thirty-five years of flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks.”

READ MORE: 'What happened to him killed him': Late Kerelaw abuse victim's ex tells of trauma

The woman was one of many who came forward to make statements which helped build the case against George and Muldoon.

She continued: “I still struggle with institutional settings.

“I was rushed into intensive care in hospital once and had to check myself out. I was putting my life at risk because of the institutional setting.

“I also have to live with the triggers and the nightmares. I had to jump out my bedroom window once after one flashback.”

Because so many of the students at Kerelaw, which was closed down in 2006, came from ‘difficult’ - or, at times, just working-class - backgrounds, many found it hard to convince authorities of the appalling abuse they had suffered.

Abuse reported at other schools, she believes, was treated differently by the authorities.

She said: “We were all seen as ‘bad wee b******s’.

READ MORE: Former Ayrshire residential schools to be examined in child abuse inquiry case study

“No one deserves to be labelled like that.

“If I had been at Fettes College, I would have had respect.”

Still tormented by her time at the school, and suffering serious health issues, she turned to writing to make some sense of what had become of her life.

She revealed: “From me giving my statement in 2006, until now, everything I went through I was trying to suppress it – to keep it all in.

“My poetry is what saved me. I do feel some sense of closure, but I know I still have to face the rest of my life with flashbacks and bad dreams.

“There has been some sort of justice, but for me, I still have a life sentence.

“It is important to get the message to young people to speak out about abuse.

“I have spent much of my life controlled by fear and I know how hard it is to speak about abuse. You feel no one will believe you, that you are worthless

“I would urge any young person who has been abused to speak out.

“If this saves just one other person’s life from further abuse or suicide, that’s worth it.”

If you are worried about a child you believe may be a victim of abuse, call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm) or email help@NSPCC.org.uk.

Children and young people up to the age of 19 who feel they are in trouble or danger can call Childline on 0800 1111.

If you are an adult survivor of child abuse, you can report it to police by calling 101 (or 999 in an emergency).

Support is also available by calling Breathing Space on 0800 838587 (6pm-2am Mon-Thu and 6pm Friday to 6am Monday) or the Samaritans (116 123) 24 hours a day.