Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Carl

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Carl was sent to a boarding school following a conviction. He describes how he took part in ‘therapy sessions’ run by the principal of the school, Mr Doyle, who made sexual interpretations of everything he said.

The claims made by Mr Doyle made life very difficult for Carl as a teenager and still affect him now – he says he finds it difficult to share the first thing that comes to his mind without ‘over-analysing’ before he speaks.

Mr Doyle claimed that Carl’s sexual associations were entirely subconscious, and Carl began to worry that other people would notice the way he was thinking. He stopped enjoying creating art because this was also analysed for sexual content, as were any dreams that he had.

During the sessions, Mr Doyle would tell Carl that ‘no women would want a creep’ like him. The principal used to put his hands down the front of his own trousers during the ‘analysis’. 

On one occasion Carl and another boy from the school were brought to Mr Doyle’s house for dinner. Mr Doyle took Carl into another room where there was a big dog that he found frightening. Mr Doyle stood behind him and Carl could feel his penis. He says this experience terrified him.

Carl recalls that he used to phone his parents and tell them the things that Mr Doyle was saying to him. This led to arguments with them but eventually Carl’s GP visited the school and concluded that Mr Doyle was a ‘pervert’. Carl’s father agreed to remove Carl from the school.

He describes the profound effect the abuse has had on him. His medical notes from the time state ‘his confidence has been smashed’. He says what happened had ‘a major inhibiting effect on me’ and, at the time, it ‘amplified all of the other aspects of adolescence’.

The abuse has also impacted on his capacity to have personal relationships. When he was in a relationship with a girl as a teenager and he was ‘jilted’, he reacted very badly and attempted suicide. He was admitted to a mental health facility, which he says led to him becoming more introverted and withdrawn and making another attempt to end his life.

At the time, Carl did not recognise that his problems were due to the sexual and psychological abuse that he had been subjected to. But, he says, when he heard that Mr Doyle had died ‘the relief was palpable’.

He says he still finds it difficult to maintain romantic relationships; he keeps thinking back to Mr Doyle telling him that no woman would ever want him. But he says he feels he is now ‘all right’, adding ‘I have adjusted, I suppose.’ 

Carl wonders how no one in the school could have noticed Mr Doyle’s strange behaviour. He recommends that children who are placed in institutions should have a key worker they can go to in confidence. He feels that he did not have anyone in the institution that he could talk to and when he told his parents, they did not know who they could report it to.

Carl also recommends that those providing psychoanalysis or similar services to young people be subject to checks, to ensure that the treatments offered are beneficial.

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