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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Note: Alex asked to be referred to as 'they' for personal reasons.

Alex describes a ‘terrible time’ during childhood with an abusive mother and stepfather and sexual assaults at school.

They feel let down by the agencies that should have protected them from abuse and should now be supporting them with the difficulties they are living with.

Alex was first abused by their stepfather when their mother was pregnant with their younger sister. The abuse carried on as Alex went into junior school.

When Alex’s mother separated from this man the abuse stopped until Alex and their sister began to visit him regularly. Alex says: ‘I had blocked out the previous abuse but he re-groomed me. He made me sleep in the same bed as him, do naked yoga, shower with him. He touched me and made me carry out acts on him.’

Alex’s mother was also very physically abusive. They say: ‘She wanted babies, not children’ and because of that she favoured Alex’s younger sister. They describe how their mother poured boiling water on their head and beat them, but no one at school asked about the bruises and burns.

When they were a teenager, Alex told their mother about the abuse by their stepfather and their mother reported it to the police. The police arrested, then released, the abuser.

Soon after, Alex was beaten up by their mother in a public place and the local authority and police became involved. Alex’s mother received a caution and Alex was persuaded to return to the family home by social services.

Alex remembers social services coming to their home when they were a child. They now know they were taken off the ‘at risk’ register but no one ever spoke to Alex without their mother present before this decision was taken. They have lodged a complaint against the local authority and are currently trying to get hold of their case file.

As well as abuse at home, Alex describes being abused at school. One pupil bullied them over a number of years, gathering a group of boys and making Alex lift up their skirt and pull down their pants. One teacher witnessed this abuse but did nothing besides shouting at Alex that they were ‘behaving like a slut’.

Alex also experienced two attempted rapes, one at secondary school and one by a friend’s brother when Alex was 11 years old.

Alex says the school failed to protect them from their mother and from other peers: ‘They didn’t want anyone to know anyone had been sexually assaulted at their school.’

Alex has mental, physical and learning difficulties. They have not received any support from the local authority and say they feel ‘ignored and unheard’.

They add: ‘I was on my own. It was shut up and survive ... every agency that was supposed to look out for me dropped the ball. Or rather, they looked at the ball and decided they didn’t want to hold it.’

Alex has been to see a counsellor but says the limited number of sessions was not enough to be helpful.

They came to the Truth Project to offer their thoughts on how to prevent abuse happening to other children.

Alex believes that there should be an independent specialist in all schools to objectively observe, ask children and challenge teachers where necessary and that all children should be taught where to go for help. They would like to see a ‘consent culture’ taught in schools, covering consent and healthy relationships and taught from an early age so children know their bodies are their own and other people’s bodies are to be respected. They would like to see a system of penalties for those that conceal the abuse of children.

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