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Experiences Shared

Caitlyn

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Caitlyn’s father was in the army and her family lived in military accommodation.

She was sexually abused by another man in the military. When her mother reported the abuse, Caitlyn was subjected to a long ‘cross-examination’, on her own, by a male officer.

Caitlyn explains that the man who abused her, Lincoln, was a close friend of her father. Her earliest recollection of the abuse is from when she was about four or five years old. It began with him masturbating in front of her and became progressively worse as she got older.

The sexual abuse continued for several years. Because of the close connection between her family and Lincoln’s family, Caitlyn did not feel she could tell her parents. 

She says that sometimes Lincoln abused her when the families were in his house. He would wait at the top of the stairs for her, grab her and kiss her. She remembers a strong taste of cigarettes on him. On one occasion he pushed her onto a bed and she could feel his erection on her chest. 

When Caitlyn was about 12, a friend convinced her she should tell her mother about the abuse. Caitlyn says that by this time, she was worried that she was getting old enough for Lincoln and his wife to ask her to babysit their children, which would mean spending more time at their house.

Her mother reported the abuse to the army, and Caitlyn was interviewed by a male officer for about five hours. Her mother wasn’t in the room with her and she wasn’t given any refreshments or comfort breaks. She remembers how traumatic this was, and that the officer did not seem to believe what she was saying.

The police were involved and they arrested Lincoln, but the case against him did not proceed. 

Caitlyn feels she has been significantly affected by the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. In particular, she became involved in relationships with abusive people, and she struggled to bond with her child. She is concerned that Lincoln may have abused other children.

She feels she was let down by the army and says that all employers should take their duty of care very seriously and apply safeguarding checks more effectively. She would also like to see improved support for children to understand and be able to report sexual abuse. 

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