Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Benicio-Dwayne

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Benicio-Dwayne grew up with a brother and a sister, but he does not recall much about them.

What he does remember of his family life is neglect, and physical and emotional abuse from his violent and unpredictable parents. And when he was placed with a foster family, he suffered sexual abuse.

Benicio-Dwayne remembers not being fed properly at home and being washed in dirty water. He was shown no love or affection. He says ‘My parents never gave me cuddles, never said I love you, never tucked me in at night’. 

He describes how he escaped into his ‘own little world’ to cope. School was a refuge for him, where he could get dinner, but then he would return to a house that was cold and unwelcoming.   

After one particularly violent incident with his parents that occurred in public, Benicio-Dwayne was asked to go to the headteacher’s office. Other professionals were there, and Benicio-Dwayne was given a physical examination. They saw how thin he was, and how many bruises he had.

He was taken home to collect items of clothing and interviewed by a social worker. He says it felt to him that he was being seen as the ‘problem’. He was eight years old.

Benicio-Dwayne was taken to an assessment centre where he remained for two years. He says he was happy at first, because there was lots of food and he could learn. But three other boys arrived at the centre and they bullied him. A social worker visited once a week but Benicio-Dwayne says this person ‘spent most of the visit in the office and was not very helpful’.

Care proceedings were commenced around this time and Benicio-Dwayne was made to give evidence in court. His parents were there but he was not allowed to speak to them. He was asked whether he wanted to go home, and remembers how traumatic this was for him as a young boy. He said ‘no’.

A care order was made and Benicio-Dwayne was sent to a children’s home. Again, he had a short period of feeling happy and enjoying activities, until one of the bullies from the assessment arrived. The bully subjected him to more physical and psychological abuse. 

After some time, Benicio-Dwayne was fostered by a couple. The foster father had been in the armed services and Benicio-Dwayne was enrolled in junior training activities which he enjoyed at first. His foster father bought him a tracksuit and began making him run home after school and took him out in the car and made him run home. 

But this routine developed into abuse. When Benicio-Dwayne got home, the foster father watched him undress and shower, forced him onto the bed and sexually abused him. This always happened when the other members of the house were out. 

Benicio-Dwayne remembers crying, and his abuser telling him to stop. The ordeallasted a few minutes and Benicio-Dwayne cried afterwards. Benicio-Dwayne comments with some irony that he became an excellent runner, so no doubt all the training he was made to do was seen as positive.

At the age of 11, he hitchhiked to see his social worker and disclosed the sexual abuse. He was later told that his abuser had admitted the offences but there would be no criminal proceedings because it would be ‘detrimental’ to Benicio-Dwayne. He remembers how angry and confused he was about the lack of action.

He returned to the assessment centre and remained there for the rest of his time in care. When he left he was given no support and he says he left the system with no skills.

Benicio-Dwayne feels his childhood experiences have left him with enormous psychological scars. He has attempted suicide and the abuse he suffered has affected his whole life. 

He would like there to be thorough physical and mental assessments of the impact on children being placed into care. He feels strongly that children should be taken seriously and treated with compassion, and that professionals who talk to children should be experienced and challenge the view that ‘children tell lies’.

Benicio-Dwayne wanted to share his account with the Truth Project to help change the way children are treated when they experience sexual and physical abuse. 

 

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