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Experiences Shared

Bryony

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Bryony was sexually abused for five years in her family home.

Her father was an angry and intimidating figure, and she had no adult she could trust or confide in.

Bryony chooses not to give any details about the person who sexually abused her from the ages of seven to 12 years. Because it happened at home, she wonders how her parents could not have realised what was happening.  

Bryony remembers being taken to the doctor because she had swelling around her anus, but there was no further action after this.

She had a difficult time at school; she remembers always trying to sit at the back and go unnoticed. 

When Bryony was 10 years old, she made a new friend, who she says was ‘loud’, and got away with acting as she wanted. This was a turning point for Bryony because it made her more bold. By the time she was 12, she stood up to the abuser and he stopped what he was doing to her. 

Looking back on her childhood, she has started to wonder how her family ‘came across to other people’. She thinks it must have been clear she was not cared for properly, but no one asked her if she was alright. 

At the time of the abuse, Bryony says she did properly understand what was happening, but was sure she would be blamed for it. She carried on feeling this way until well into her adult years, and it was only when she found out that the abuser had done the same thing to someone else that she realised it was not her fault.

Bryony has suffered with depression, anxiety and flashbacks. She is afraid of men and she struggles with relationships. The abuse has also affected her physical health and ability to work. 

Sometimes she feels like she wants to ‘bail out of life’ and says that sexual abuse ‘doesn’t just steal your childhood, it steals your adulthood too’.

Bryony had therapy, although she experienced long waiting times for this. She feels strongly it is essential for victims and survivors to get the right type of support.   

She believes it is vital for children to have adults in their lives they can trust – she works with children and ensures that she offers strong pastoral care.

Bryony concludes by saying that sharing her experience with the Truth Project has made her ‘feel recognised’. She says ‘It is so important to be listened to’.

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There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.