Skip to main content Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

For as far back as he can remember, Aiden suffered serious abuse at the hands of his father. His mother developed a disability around the time he was born in the early 1960s, and his father blamed him for this. He says: ‘I was hated before I was born by him; I didn’t stand much chance.’

His father demonstrated his hatred and anger by savagely abusing Aiden and allowing other adults to abuse him too.

One of Aiden’s first memories is of crying and his father punching him full in the face. He was constantly humiliated by his father and told that he was killing his mother, that he was the cause of what had happened to her and that he was an ‘evil child’. Aiden says his older brother was not directly subjected to the same abuse, but he witnessed much of what took place over the years.

Aiden describes his father as ‘a proud and flashy man who liked to show off’.  He spent a lot of money on cars and expensive suits while neglecting his family’s basic needs. His children were often hungry and wore hand-me-down clothes. He was extremely violent, controlling and manipulative, but presented a respectable image outside their home. 

The physical abuse Aiden endured from his father included beating, kicking and burning. On occasions he was left naked and freezing, locked in the shed. He was taken to hospital several times with various injuries and his father would tell the doctors that Aiden was a naughty child who was always hurting himself. No one ever questioned these explanations.

Aiden’s father also abused Aiden’s mother emotionally and physically, but Aiden says he was careful to only hit her above her hairline where no one would see the marks. Outwardly he was a caring, devoted husband to a disabled wife. Aiden describes how he wanted to speak out but was terrified of the consequences.

He thinks he was about four years old when his father began sexually abusing him. The abuse started at bath times, when Aiden’s father would sometimes get into the bath with him and force Aiden to perform oral sex upon him. On many occasions Aiden’s father held his head under the water until he felt he was drowning.

Aiden’s mother was in a wheelchair and confined downstairs so did not see when Aiden’s father went to his bedroom. He recalls lying in bed, staring at the patch of light on the ceiling where the ajar door cast a beam, terrified it would move, indicating his father’s arrival.

His father would rape and abuse him while his brother hid under the covers nearby. He remembers how extremely painful the abuse was and how his father would blame him if he defecated as a result of what happened. He ended up in hospital many times with gastro-intestinal problems and remembers the doctor saying he was ill because he was ‘a dirty child’ who didn’t wash his hands.

Constantly tired because of the things that were happening to him at night, Aiden would frequently fall asleep at school. He was given corporal punishment for this and sent home with a letter, which resulted in a further beating from his father.

 On later occasions Aiden was taken to other adults by his father and subjected to further sexual abuse by them. Sometimes his father would masturbate while watching the other men abuse him.

The only genuine care Aiden feels he experienced as a child was from his grandparents. He remembers how his grandma would give him a cuddle and look after him, trying to feed him up and making sure he was comfortable at night. Looking back Aiden says he wishes he had been able to tell them what was happening, but he was too frightened. He says of his father ‘This bloke had the power of life or death over you’.

When he was about nine or 10 years old, Aiden was sent away to a boarding school. Although it was an escape from his father he was bullied and sexually abused by a housemaster who used to fondle Aiden and make him perform oral sex on him.

Aiden describes how he felt this was ‘not too bad’. Because he had experienced so much horrific abuse he expected worse and he would ‘feel fortunate’ that he’d got away without being raped. He adds that at the time he couldn’t understand why the other boys, who were also being abused by the housemaster, would get so upset about it.

His mother died a couple of years later and Aiden recalls how distraught he felt at the funeral; not only because of the loss but because he fully believed that he was responsible for her death. He comments that he was in his forties when he finally realised that he was not to blame for what had happened to his mother. Aiden’s father later remarried but his new wife was also abusive towards Aiden and his brother.

 After he left the boarding school Aiden was sent to a local authority school for children who were deemed to be problematic. Corporal punishment was a daily occurrence here, and he was also sexually abused by two teachers. He ran away from the school several times but was always picked up by the police and returned.


After leaving school Aiden joined the armed forces. He says he saw this as ‘an alternative way to commit suicide’. He reasoned that to be killed in action would achieve the end to his life he wanted, and be viewed by others as an honourable death.

He says he has attempted suicide several times in his life, and once made a plan to kill his father, but realised this would cause his own family difficulties and he would serve a very long prison sentence.

In times of crisis Aiden has called the Samaritans and in more recent years he has undergone significant and intensive psychotherapy. His private therapy has cost him a lot of money and he feels that he has been entirely failed by NHS mental health services, with years on waiting lists, poor administration and very limited help.

About 15 years ago Aiden reported his abuse to the police and his father and one other perpetrator were arrested. Most of his other abusers were dead or could not be traced by then. However, the Crown Prosecution Service did not progress the cases.

Aiden feels that the abuse and trauma he suffered as a child has destroyed many areas of his life. His physical and mental health have both suffered greatly, and this has impacted on his relationships and sex life. He says: ‘I feel like I’m never going to have sex with anyone ever again ... I feel contaminated.’ 

He has developed several personalities because of his traumatic experiences and he sometimes dresses as a female and becomes a separate personality. This way, he says he feels ‘clean, safe and uncontaminated.’

Your privacy

There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.