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Experiences Shared

Angelica

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Angelica had a chaotic upbringing with no parental support. 

She was raped as a child but her GP said she had caused her own injuries and her mother said she must have deserved it.

Angelica’s parents separated when she was very young. Her mother had severe mental health issues, and was extremely violent towards her children.

Angelica first ran away from home when she was five. She remembers how safe she felt in the arms of a police officer when he was carrying her.  

When she was about eight years old, her mother contacted the headmaster of Angelica’s school, Mr Thomas, and told him Angelica had been stealing. 

He called Angelica to his office and was ‘really nice’ to her. After this, he took a special interest in her, often isolating her from the rest of her class and allowing her to do activities she liked. 

Mr Thomas told Angelica that she needed extra tuition and started calling her to his office. When she got an answer wrong, he anally raped her. She relates that after the first time he did this, she was late meeting her mother. Her mother physically assaulted her in the street for being late but no one took any notice. 

Angelica was raped by Mr Thomas every week over the following year. Her mother noticed blood in her underwear and took her to see their GP. He pronounced that it was caused by a ‘self-inflicted’ injury.

She tried to tell her mother that Mr Thomas was hurting her but her mother simply told her that she must have deserved it. Angelica thinks that after this, she convinced herself she was making it up, as a way of dealing with her situation. 

Angelica continued to run away. She was arrested and a police sergeant asked if she was all right, but after her experience with the GP she did not feel able to tell him anything. 

On other occasions when she ran away, some police officers threatened to slap her. 

When she was in her early teens, her mother threw her out. She stayed with relatives and moved frequently. Because of this, her education was badly disrupted and she left school a couple of years later with no qualifications. 

She returned home to her mother for a time and was allocated a social worker, but only saw them once. 

By the time Angelica was in her mid teens, she was living on the streets. She comments that during her life she has been raped more times than she has had consensual sex.

She attempted suicide in her 20s and suffered so badly with her mental health that she was sectioned. 

When Angelica was in her 30s she reported the sexual abuse by Mr Thomas to the police. It emerged that the police were already investigating him, but they considered that her mental health was too fragile for her to take part in a prosecution. 

She believes that professionals working with children need to be more inquisitive about the reasons children may be troubled, and that services should work in a joined up way. 

Angelica is now in a supportive relationship but still struggles with feeling safe. 

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