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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Cary describes a distant relationship with his parents.

He formed attachments to other adults, but was abused by them. 

Cary explains that his parents were health professionals and the family moved house frequently to take up different postings. His siblings were several years older than him, and his upbringing was ‘different’ from theirs.

He was cared for by a childminder who he describes as a ‘second mother’. He adds that his parents ‘weren’t bad people but they were quite self-absorbed’ and in some ways he felt more attached to his childminder, spending lots of time at her house. 

When Cary was about five years old, he was staying with his childminder, and when she was out of the house her husband exposed himself to Cary, and tried to touch him sexually.

When he was in his mid teens, Cary met a man called Romain, who was known in the area as ‘something of an athlete’. Romain took a special interest in Cary and encouraged him to go to the local sports club.

Romain claimed to be a trained physiotherapist and he used the treatment rooms in the club to provide therapy to adults and some teenage boys. He started taking Cary home after treatment sessions, and sometimes to restaurants, which Cary says made him feel special.

After a time, Romain started talking to Cary about masturbation. He said he was studying for a PhD on the topic and wanted to use Cary as a case study.  

He used this lie as a pretext to sexually abuse Cary. The abuse included masturbation and occurred in the treatment rooms. Cary says that sometimes it physically hurt him.  

The abuse ended about a year later. He says that in some ways he found this ‘devastating’ because he did not understand that Romain had been abusing him.

The abuser moved abroad, and remained in contact with Cary, writing to him many times. In one letter he asked Cary not to tell anyone where he was, so he could keep away from ‘wagging tongues’ and the newspapers.  

When Cary was in his 20s, the Childline campaign was launched and he realised for the first time that he had been sexually abused. But because it focused on children, he felt there was nowhere for him, as an adult, to go. He was also afraid of the stigma of having been abused. 

Cary has had problems committing to relationships. When he had a child he became petrified that he would be an abuser, and he could not find any support to help him. 

Cary later had some intensive therapy and spoke for the first time about what had happened to him as a teenager. Soon after this, he made a report about Romain to the police. He did feel they believed him, but Romain was overseas, so there was no further investigation. 

He did not report the abuse by his childminder’s husband because she was still alive and he did not want to upset her. He attended her husband’s funeral and says he forgave him.  

Cary adds that he told his parents about the childminder’s husband, some time after the abuse. However, they became upset and ‘shut the conversation down’. He has found this difficult but works hard to maintain his relationship with his parents.

Cary feels there is not enough support available for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, especially for mental health services.  

He feels he has managed to turn his life around and looks after his wellbeing through exercise. 

He says ‘I am responsible for myself and I have found my own way to recovery but I am still angry … but these experiences have blighted my life and had a massive impact on my relationships’.  

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