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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Alan’s earliest memories are of living in fear at a care home. He endured brutal sexual abuse, cruel punishments, limited food, hard physical work and no kindness, love or affection.

Remarkably, in his adult life he went on to establish a successful career. He wants to relate his experiences to try and help children in the future.

Alan believes he was placed in the home as a baby, due to his mother’s ill health and his father being away during the war. He describes an atmosphere of fear established by the matron at the home.

Children were not listened to and never believed. He says: ‘If you were thought to have told lies you were shut in a cupboard without food all day to “wait for the policeman”.

At around the age of five or six, Alan was responsible for feeding the animals. Barbara, a female carer, would invite him into the laundry room where she was working. He remembers her encouraging him to lie down for a rest after his chores. She would lie down with him, undo his trousers and fondle his genitals, before performing oral sex on him.

At the time he was not distressed by this. Barbara always gave him a biscuit afterwards, and because the children were given so little food this was very welcome.

He thinks the sexual abuse continued for about a year before it suddenly stopped; he never knew why.

Around the same time Alan says he was also being abused by Seth, a male carer at the home. Alan describes how Seth would bathe him and spend a long time washing his genitals. This progressed to penetrating his anus with his finger and later, raping him. Alan vividly recalls the pain he felt: ‘My screams seemed to be the only thing that stopped him.’

Alan was given biscuits and sweets by Seth and remembers crying himself to sleep in fear. The next time Seth bathed him he forced Alan to perform oral sex on him.

This pattern of sexual abuse became a regular occurrence. The regime of fear at the children’s home ensured that Alan was certain there was no adult he could report the sexual abuse to, and no one would believe him if he did.

He was regularly shut in the cupboard as a punishment for wetting the bed and made to stand with the wet sheets over his head. He comments that his constant bedwetting stopped within a month of him leaving the home.

When Alan was older he was moved to a boarding school to complete his education, where the harsh punishments continued. One female teacher would administer the cane on bare backsides of boys found masturbating and tell them they would go blind.

As a teenager he ran away from the boarding school and found work and accommodation. He describes how from this point he finally felt free. With no known relatives, he looked after and supported himself, travelled and forged a successful career, later marrying and having a family.

Alan says that by sharing his experience he hopes to help prevent similar sexual abuse. He feels that isolating children, with no one to talk to, makes them vulnerable and should not happen.

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