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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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Eddie was sexually abused at a youth club and it has affected his relationships ever since

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When Eddie was sexually abused as a young boy by a man his parents trusted, one of his main concerns was that he should not make life difficult for other people by telling anyone about it.

Eddie describes his life as a constant battle to recover from what happened to him. He was 11 years old when he joined a sports club run by Doug, a friend of his parents they assumed their son would be safe with.

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Zoe’s caring responsibilities and erratic family life left her open to grooming by older men

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From a young age Zoe took on caring responsibilities beyond her years. With a school and family life that was erratic at times, she was left vulnerable to grooming by older men.

Zoe’s father had mental health issues. Her mother struggled to cope with the changes in her relationship with her husband and began to use alcohol. Zoe remembers feeling the need to protect her parents. She had a sibling, but she says they preferred to ‘do their own thing and didn’t take on caring responsibilities’. Zoe feels she did not have much support – although services were working with her father there was no provision for the rest of the family. Other than an older relative, Zoe had no one she felt able to talk to.

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Stacey was raped by her uncle. A judge branded her as ‘a scheming little Lolita’

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Stacey describes her early childhood growing up in a family that was ‘wealthy and stable’. But their fortunes changed when she was six years old and her parents struggled to look after her and her siblings.

After a few years in care, Stacey and her siblings were fostered by her uncle. This man abused and raped her, resulting in her becoming pregnant.

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Benjamin was abused by a man from church who ‘took away from me the life I would have had’

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Benjamin attended a local church with his family and joined the choir when he was 10 years old. 

Nicholas, an adult, attended the same church and was responsible for publishing the church magazine. Benjamin began to be aware that Nicholas would often be present in the vestry when the choir members were disrobing.

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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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Russell was sexually abused by his family GP, but the police did not investigate

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Russell did not talk about his abuse for many years, until it came out in a counselling session. Since then he has not been able to forget about it.

He says that, looking back, he realises he was abused by his family doctor at his very first appointment, even though his mother was in the room.

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Grace felt she did what she had to do to be loved

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Throughout Grace’s childhood her dad was in poor health and her mum was vulnerable. Despite that, she describes her younger self as a typical teenager.

She attended an all-girls school. When she was a young teenager, a man called Kyle drove past her school in his car and offered to take Grace for a drink.

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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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Victoria was abused by her uncle, but still saw her role as protecting her vulnerable mother

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Victoria was in her 30s when her memories surfaced of the sexual abuse she was subjected to as child. The trigger for this was being told by her mother that her uncle had been charged with child sexual abuse.

Previously, she says her only recollection of childhood had been a vision of complete darkness and a large man’s hand. On hearing the news about her uncle, she began to experience flashbacks, seeing clear images of herself in a church and reliving the experience of being sexually abused. 

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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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Carl was psychologically and sexually abused by a principal who claimed to be analysing him

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Carl was sent to a boarding school following a conviction. He describes how he took part in ‘therapy sessions’ run by the principal of the school, Mr Doyle, who made sexual interpretations of everything he said.

The claims made by Mr Doyle made life very difficult for Carl as a teenager and still affect him now – he says he finds it difficult to share the first thing that comes to his mind without ‘over-analysing’ before he speaks.

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Kevin says ‘I didn’t always know the words for what was happening to me’

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It was only when Kevin heard a radio programme about sexual abuse that he really understood what had happened to him as a child. The difficulty for him when he was young, he says, is that ‘I didn’t always know the words for what was happening to me.’

Following his parents’ divorce, Kevin and his mother lived with relatives for a short time. He says it was a relief when they left there, as his uncle had been sexually abusing him.

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