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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

During her childhood and adolescence, Adina was moved round the care system numerous times.

She suffered sexual abuse by several men, and was not believed when she reported it.

Adina was born in the 1960s and adopted when she was a few days old. 

Adina refers to her adoptive parents as her mum and dad. They had two other sons.

When Adina was young, her mum developed a serious mental illness and was in hospital for a time. A few years later, her dad left the family. Adina says that as far as she knows, her mum did not get any support looking after three children with her condition, and social services were not involved.

Over the next three years, Adina’s mum was obviously struggling to cope. She beat the children with a leather strap and some days they had nothing to eat. Sometimes Adina came home from school to find her mum had thrown the furniture into the garden. 

When Adina’s mum went into hospital again, the two younger children were left in the care of the oldest boy, who was about 14 or 15. Still there was no intervention from any authority. When her mum came home, Adina remembers trying to make sure she took her medication every day. 

About a year later, her mum met and married another man, Frank. She says Frank treated her and her brother like ‘animals’. They always had to sit on the floor, were not allowed to use the phone, and had to ask whenever they wanted to have something to eat or to go to the toilet. 

During this time, Adina’s brother started sexually abusing her. He would get into bed with her and act out sexual positions. He later raped her.

When Adina was 11, she told a teacher about her home life and said she didn’t want to go back there. She was taken into care and fostered by a man called John, and his wife, when she was 12. 

She was relieved to be in care and away from the family home, but John sexually assaulted her. She wrote what had happened in her diary and hid it away. One day she came home from school and was taken by social services, without explanation, to an assessment centre. 

Adina was interviewed alone by a social worker and a policewoman. She told them what John had done and they warned her that she would get into trouble if she was lying. She had no appropriate adult with her. She was asked to sign the interview notes without reading them. 

In the following years, Adina was moved around the care system more than a dozen times, including several children’s homes, a number of assessment centres and different foster placements. 

She suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse by several different members of staff. 

She began sniffing glue and frequently ran away, eventually ending up in a big city, where she was raped by more than one man. 

Adina was returned to a children’s home, but didn’t tell anyone what had happened. She says she didn’t think anyone would believe her, or do anything about it.

She discovered she was pregnant. She gave the baby up for adoption and is still very distressed about this. After this, she was raped again by a member of staff in the home. 

After Adina left care she abused drugs. She finds it hard to trust people, has struggled with her mental health and has PTSD.

In recent years, Adina has obtained her care record. She now knows that when she reported the sexual abuse by the foster father, John, the police officer wrote that she had made it up. Because she wasn’t believed, John was allowed to foster many more children and he was eventually tried for child sexual abuse. She feels guilty that he was able to go on and abuse other children. 

Adina brought her daughter up on her own and now has grandchildren. She is about to have counselling.  

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