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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Adele was sexually abused by her father over two years.

Social workers were involved with her family because of allegations made by her sister, but they did not see that Adele was at risk.

Adele grew up in a family of five children. She explains that she has an early memory of being sexually abused on one occasion at nursery school. The abuse by her father started when she was about 12 years old.

When she was 10, one of her older sisters reported that their father had sexually abused her, and her sister was taken into care. Adele doesn’t recall social workers or anyone else speaking to her or her other siblings to check they were all right.

The first time her father sexually abused Adele was at night in her bedroom. He came in and rubbed her breasts. She remembers feeling afterwards that she never wanted to go in the room again, but she was afraid to tell anyone in the family, because everyone had been angry with her sister when she reported being abused.

However, she did tell a teacher at school, and a social worker came to the house. But, Adele says, ‘everyone was angry again’, and she said she had lied.

After that, the abuse got worse. It happened about once a week, usually after her father had come home from the pub. She does not know if her mother was aware – she was downstairs – but her sisters were in the same bedroom.

The sexual abuse by her father escalated to him penetrating her with his fingers, making her touch his penis, and vaginal and oral rape. She says that this was ‘the worst’; she felt sick and thought she might die as she couldn’t breathe. She remembers him lying on top of her smelling of alcohol, and she would try to turn away and not cry. The abuse continued until she was in her mid teens. 

She does not say how this came about, but about a year later she had some therapy sessions. She remembers being taken from school by a male taxi driver to the hospital to see a therapist, again a male. She believes that her social worker should have picked her up or at least told her what was happening.

It was only last year that Adele told a colleague she trusted about the sexual abuse by her father. 

Adele has suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, and she is waiting for a referral for therapy. 

She believes that there should be better training for police and social workers in listening to children. She feels angry that social workers did not listen properly to her sister. If they had, she says, perhaps she might not have also suffered sexual abuse by her father. 

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