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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Bledig was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was a young altar boy.

He says that during his childhood and adolescence, he buried it, but decades later he gives a vivid and detailed account of the impact the abuse has had on him throughout his life.

Bledig was between eight and nine years old when he was abused. It took place after evening mass in a room where the altar boys changed their clothes. The abuse continued for several months and only ended after he became so ill that he was in hospital for a whole school term. 

At secondary school, Bledig still had to face the abuser because the priest taught religious education there for some time.

He describes how he suppressed what had happened to him, but he remembers that he found it difficult being in a classroom or any group situation. He had been identified as talented at sports, but he did not like taking part and preferred to be alone. 

Bledig says he didn’t do very well at school, but he managed to secure a place at a college. Again, he found the environment a great challenge. A tutor saw how unhappy he was and encouraged him to seek help.

He saw a mental health professional, but he didn’t talk about the sexual abuse.

Bledig explains that he has had several jobs in different sectors but finds it difficult to settle and progress in any career. He says the anxiety and discomfort of being in group situations has been a constant theme in his life. He has also moved house frequently.

Bledig struggles with managing his anger. His first marriage broke down and he describes how difficult it was for him to keep his temper in check in front of his children. 

He has experienced depression, anxiety, flashbacks and poor health. He feels he has lost many opportunities.

He visited a local parish priest who he says was quite supportive, and he began to have counselling. Soon after, he made contact with some of the other former altar boys. He discovered that others had been abused too, and that the priest had been convicted and jailed about 30 years after he abused Bledig. 

Bledig went back to speak to the local parish priest again, this time with the bishop. He says they listened to what he had to say, but didn’t answer any questions or provide any of the follow up information they promised him. 

Bledig feels that the church is corrupt and when challenged, it closed in to protect itself rather than prioritising the safety and protection of children. 

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