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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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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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Joe blames himself for not fighting off the man who raped him in a custodial institution

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Mistreated and neglected as a child at home, Joe committed a range of petty thefts, sometimes to feed himself. He built up a record of offences and was sent to a residential institution where his experience was very positive. He says ‘I absolutely adored it’.

Sadly, this respite from his difficult life ended when he was sent to a custodial institution. Joe relates how the day he arrived, he was given cleaning duties and told to clean the corridor.

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Mary is still haunted by the trauma of sexual abuse by her older brother

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Mary has made great efforts to deal with the trauma of sexual abuse by her older brother, but it continues to haunt her.

Mary feels her experiences have wrecked her relationships and knows that she is exceptionally protective of her child. She says: ‘I feel my life would have taken a totally different path if I hadn’t been abused.’

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Joanne says ‘like pebbles thrown into a pond, the ripples keep on getting bigger’

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Joanne was first sexually abused by a neighbour as a young child and by others as she grew older. Responses to her suffering by many of the adults in authority she encountered included blame (of her), unkindness, indifference and inappropriate advice.

During her childhood, Joanne was intermittently placed in care. Her mother suffered from mental illness and was an alcoholic. She had a memory of childhood sexual abuse by a neighbour when she was a young child, and now knows that a social services case report described her in the following terms: ‘Joanne was wilful and defiant, sexually precocious … indecently assaulted by a man who was later convicted.’

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Hannah feels that talking to the Truth Project has helped her in the healing process

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Hannah was sexually abused by her uncle, her mother’s stepbrother, in her home and in the home of her grandparents.

She was very young at the time and, as the perpetrator was a relative, she says she initially thought the abuse was ‘normal family affection.’ She describes her family set-up as ‘odd’.

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Disclosing his abuse, Louis was told ‘Christian men don’t do that’

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Louis’ account of his abuse begins with what he now knows was grooming. When he was seven years old, he was allowed to join the Cub Scouts. He remembers being excited about this, especially as the scoutmaster was a trusted and upstanding member of the church.

The scoutmaster seemed approachable and friendly. He would ruffle Louis’ hair when he saw him or put an arm around him. Louis says ‘He was seen as helpful, someone to trust.’

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Sophie thought she was in love and that she was special when she was sexually abused by a teacher

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Sophie came to the Truth Project to talk about the grooming and sexual abuse she experienced as a teenager by her teacher, and the failings of the teaching staff and other adults to intervene.

She describes growing up in a ‘mollycoddled’ household with a very close extended family who lived close by and saw each other daily.

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Charlotte sought help from an authority figure who exploited her vulnerability, becoming her abuser

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Charlotte grew up in a strict, religious family. From a young age she was sexually abused by her father and other abusers. When she found the courage to report the abuse during confession to a priest, Father Callum, she hoped he would help her.

Instead, Father Callum approached her father and they began sexually abusing her together. Charlotte recalls that the abuse became more brutal after Father Callum became involved.

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Robert’s struggle for recognition of his abuse keeps him ‘in the past and feeling abused’

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Robert was sexually abused by his father but for years he suppressed the memory and impact of this by throwing himself into his work.

A revelation by his brother that he had been abused in the same way caused Robert to have a breakdown. His attempts to gain redress through official channels have been thwarted by what he describes as series of obstructive and inappropriate actions by people in authority.

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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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Trevor was raped by a vicar in a church, abused in a custodial institution and failed by the police

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Trevor says he blocked out most of his childhood recollections to help him cope with the pain caused by the sexual abuse he suffered.

Now his early memories are returning, and he says he realises he had a ‘lovely childhood’ before the abuse changed his life.

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Gilbert was not safe at home, but his parents failed to protect him

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Gilbert and his sister were both raped by their older brother in the family home.

This happened on many occasions, when the brother was left alone to look after his siblings, until Gilbert was about seven or eight years old. Gilbert’s brother threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the abuse.

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