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Experiences Shared

These are some of the experiences of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project. All names and identifying details have been changed.

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Chris was sexually abused in a Christian children’s home

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Chris has a dual heritage. As a baby he was placed in a Christian children’s home where he says the perception of staff was that the children came from parents with poor morals and needed ‘saving’. In fact, the environment the home provided caused him enormous harm.

Chris’ mother’s parents were furious when she became pregnant and sent their daughter away to give birth. Chris’s father had returned to Africa and his mother felt that it was in Chris’s best interest to place him in care.

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Rose was sexually abused in a children’s home, and the documents from that time are missing

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Rose was brought up in a children’s home from a young age. When a kind and protective staff member left, she was left vulnerable to a sexual predator.

When a new manager, Walter, arrived from another home to take over, she remembers somebody saying ‘he plays about with the children’, but she didn’t understand what it meant.

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Ethyn did not report a fellow schoolboy for abusing him ‘out of loyalty’

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Ethyn was sent to a private boarding school where he was targeted by older pupils and teachers for sexual abuse.

The large dormitory in which Ethyn slept was supervised by a prefect who made it clear he considered Ethyn, who was not yet a teenager, to be ‘pretty’.

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60 years after being sexually abused at private school, Henry came to the Truth Project

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Henry says it was difficult for him to come forward to the Truth Project; in 60 years he has never spoken about his sexual abuse to anyone other than his partner.

Henry hopes that talking about the sexual abuse he suffered will form a small but important part of the Inquiry ‘jigsaw’ and may in some way help to protect others from similar experiences.

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Cathy was empowered by the compensation she received for the sexual abuse at her church

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Cathy was sexually abused by a youth worker in her church who became a minister and went on to work in another youth organisation. Cathy felt stonewalled by the church in her attempts to gain acknowledgment of the sexual abuse, but has persisted in speaking out, with the support of her loved ones.

Cathy grew up in a strict religious family and felt very isolated as a child. Her mother had a condition which made it difficult to have visitors, and she never knew her grandparents.

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Graham said ‘The potential scale of abuse within sporting institutions remains unknown’

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Graham was a pupil at an independent school that provided high level coaching in a sport from Mr James. Graham describes him as a powerful individual both in the school and nationally in the sport. The school had a good reputation and a history of producing champions in this sport.

Graham demonstrated extensive skills in this sport and was coached by Mr James for several years. From the very beginning and for several years, he was subjected to regular sexual abuse by Mr James, who also organised out-of-school activities for pupils.

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Ethan was failed because society didn’t talk about sexual abuse at the time

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Ethan says he had a positive childhood with wonderful supportive parents and lots of opportunities. But this was marred by sexual abuse perpetrated by an adult from a youth organisation.

Ethan’s parents believed him when he told them, and took action, but stopped short of involving the police. He worries that his abuser may have continued his crimes.

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George is angry that he was sexually abused in the navy and hopes others will come forward

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George says his family life was ‘not great’. In his mid-teens he left home and joined the navy hoping to find a better existence.

He was drafted on board a ship where there was an officer in the same sleeping quarters called Denis. Denis presented himself as a friend to the young sailor, but George now feels that the officer groomed him.

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Hugh’s abusers told him ‘You can’t say anything, I have tremendous influence’

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Hugh describes highly organised sexual abuse at the approved school he attended, involving staff and others from outside the institution, some of whom may have been in positions of senior authority.

He describes himself as a very bright child who was also ‘troublesome’. At the age of about 10, he appeared in juvenile court and was sent to an approved school.

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Martin was sexually abused by someone involved with – but not employed by – the church

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Martin was abused as a teenager by someone in a position of trust at his family’s church. He recalls it happening on only one occasion, but it has had a significant effect on his life. 

His parents did not find it unusual that Martin was visiting the perpetrator’s house, where the abuse happened. He did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time because he did not know who to tell, nor did he understand what has happening to him.

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Mike says ’I don’t know a life without the young me being raped. I don’t know what a normal life would be’

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Mike describes the abuser who raped him when he was a child as a ‘well-respected and powerful man in uniform’. Despite years of suffering caused by his early experiences, he says he considers himself to be ‘luckier than most’. 

Mike, who grew up in an unsettled home, attended the local RAF air cadets squadron. He feels his vulnerability was clear to Oscar, the squadron leader, who singled Mike out to offer the attention, care and love that was missing from his family life.

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William says ‘My brain got broken a bit when I was young’

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William’s memories of childhood are violence, neglect, sexual abuse and having no one to turn to. He says: ‘My brain got broken a bit when I was young.’

He comments that his mother ‘never really parented me’ and he grew up witnessing severe domestic violence between his parents. William says he made many attempts to kill himself.

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