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Experiences Shared

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

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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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Ava says ‘I will probably always feel like I deserved it or something like that’

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Ava was sexually abused when she was a young teenager by a member of a church music group she belonged to.

At the time, her parents were separating, and she describes what her abuser did as ‘classic grooming’.

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Kellie says victims and survivors with low self-esteem need support to report child sexual abuse

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Kellie was sexually abused by her foster father throughout her teenage years.

She says it is only because she is a successful professional she feels she has ‘a fighting chance’ to deal with the justice system and the abuser. 

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Anya says the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation see it not as paedophilia, but a business opportunity

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Anya lived with her mother, stepfather and younger half-siblings. She recounts that her mum was very strict and that like many teenagers, Anya was rebellious.

A series of circumstances and encounters with people who lived in her neighbourhood drew her into a web of exploitation, sexual abuse, threats and violence. She was trapped in this terrifying world for four years before she managed to escape.

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Almudena did not want to say in front of her mother that she was being sexually abused

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As a young child, Almudena had to care for her mother who had physical and mental health problems.

She was sexually abused by two men. Social workers were involved with the family, but she never saw them on her own and did not feel able to tell them what was happening to her.

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Alyssa says ‘I was getting the attention online that I never got elsewhere’

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Alyssa was an only child and her mum was a single parent who worked long hours.

Lonely and isolated at home, Alyssa began chatting on online sites that were supposed to be for children, but were also frequented by adult sexual abusers.

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Blair says that memories of sexual abuse ‘take up most of what my childhood was’

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Blair was sexually abused by two perpetrators. 

She was very young the first time she was abused but has pieced the story together from her memories, what her family has told her and police records.

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Dot says the staff in her children’s home had the authority but not the skills to care for children

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Dot endured years of sustained sexual abuse by numerous male residents in her children’s home.

She was punished for being the victim of abuse, and called ‘dirty’.

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Carlton says ‘Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my time in that house’

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Carlton’s mother died when he was a small boy. He was left at the mercy of his stepfather and stepbrother, who both sexually abused him.

After many troubled years, Carlton reported the abuse to the police, but the case was badly mishandled.

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Clive’s life was badly affected after being sexually abused by a stranger in the public toilets

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Sexually abused by a stranger when he was a small boy, Clive has struggled with the psychological and emotional effects ever since.

Clive really wants people to understand that for those who have been sexually abused: ‘It doesn’t need to be stigmatised as some sort of disability, but it does need to be recognised that this will have a lifelong impact.’

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Noah thinks the causes of behavioural changes in children need to be identified

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Noah was sexually abused by a priest and an older child. These experiences caused behavioural problems for him at school and led him to cut himself off from the church and lose his faith.

His says the impact of the abuse on his mental health was made worse by his dealings with the police when he reported it.

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Margot knew the abuse by a teacher was wrong, but didn’t want to lose his support while she was grieving

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Margot was groomed and sexually abused by a teacher at her secondary school. 

The abuse began when she was in her early teens and had recently suffered a major bereavement.

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