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When Brittney vanished, she forced her family's horrific secrets out into the open.

Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of sexual assault and domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.

A teenage girl disappeared. And while it’s almost certain that Brittney Wood will never be found, her absence has shone a light into the unimaginable darkness she lived with before she was taken.

19-year-old Brittney Wood was last seen with her uncle on May 30, 2012, in the southern U.S. state of Alabama. Her uncle, Donnie Holland, was found dead from suicide just days later. Brittney  is presumed to be dead, too.

Her disappearance has unravelled an incestuous child sex ring that authorities suspect spans over three generations in Brittney’s family.

Now, two years on from her disappearance, eight of her family members have been charged in relation to abuse allegations. Alabama police say Holland was the leader and Wood was likely to be a victim.

It has been described as the largest sex ring to ever be uncovered in Alabama.

Children, some as young as three and four, were sold and shared among family members for years.

And no one knew.

A missing poster in the search for Brittney Wood.

Brittney disappeared without a trace. So far, no clues relating to her disappearance have been uncovered and no one has been charged.

Meanwhile her mother, Chessie Wood, is awaiting trial in relation to the charges. The 39-year-old denies any personal wrongdoing, but says members of her family are guilty.

“There are innocent people in this and there are guilty people in this,” she said in an interview.

“I don’t know how the judicial system is going to figure it all out because they’re not the sharpest tools in the shed.”

Chessie is accused of having sex with a young female family member, but insists she was unaware of the situation until after Brittney disappeared.

“The number one thing here is to find Brittney. The number two thing is to get all these sick (people) off the streets,” she said.

Chessie, a mother-of-five, believes her sister has the answer to what happened to Brittney.

“I know who can tell me what happened to Brittney. It is my sister Wendy. She knows what took place and I just beg her to tell the truth. No more hiding and no more lies,” she said in December last year.

“No mother should lose their daughter, but it is even worse when there is no body. We just want to mourn. All I want is to be able to say goodbye to my daughter and to end the agony of not knowing.”

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The alarming number of complaints within the family about sexual abuse goes back at least six years, according to Fox News.

Teresa Heinz, an assistant district attorney in Baldwin County, Alabama, says the prior allegations against the family were never investigated by local authorities.

“You’d be surprised how many of them had prior allegations. Nothing happened,” said Heinz.

“You have to wonder what wouldn’t have happened to these children if something had been done. And Brittney might still be alive.”

Officials involved in the investigation don’t yet know the scale of the victims. At least 11 children are said to have been abused by family members. These children have been placed in foster care while the case is unfolding.

Brittney’s uncle, Donnie Holland. 

The details of the abuse is sordid and horrifying. It has been revealed the children were molested and forced to watch drug-fueled orgies involving adult family members.

It is believed by authorities that the sexual abuse began when Donnie Holland married Wendy Wood, Chessie’s sister.

“Donnie was the manager. He’d say, ‘I’ve got this child and this adult, come on over,'” said Nicki Patterson, an Alabama assistant district attorney.

Brittney Wood was ready to confront Donnie about the allegations and drove to his house to confront him on the day she disappeared. Her aunt, Kim Aiken, said she was ready to speak out against the abuse.

“Brittney was standing up for what was right. She could not stand that someone close to her was being abused. She was a strong person. I called her a pocket stick of dynamite. She was only 5ft 1in but she was such a force,” Aiken said.

“Brittney would have been sticking up for her relative and she would have gone to the police.That is why she was killed. It pains me to say it as I don’t want to give up hope, but I know she is dead.”

A missing poster in the search for Brittney.

According to Aiken, Brittney was also abused as a child, which is why she was taking a stand.

“When she was nine she was raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend,” she said.

“She did not tell anyone until she was 12-years-old when she drew what happened on a piece of paper for a youth pastor. It was just heartbreaking.”

Aiken believes this past experience gave her the courage to confront her uncle after Brittney heard of the abuse.

The trial is underway in the U.S.

More to come.

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