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Experiences Shared

Chloe

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Publicity about child sex abuse cases prompted Chloe to report incidents that occurred when she was a young teenager. This resulted in a successful prosecution, but the abuse has had a significant effect on her mental health and the court case was very difficult for her.

Chloe has a recollection of sexual abuse by a family friend that occurred when she was between the ages of five and 11 years, but she cannot remember the details.

She was sexually abused again at the age of 13, by Ronnie, a curate at the church that she attended with her family. Ronnie was a regular visitor to their home and was often invited for meals.

On these occasions, out of sight of Chloe’s parents, Ronnie would regularly kiss and fondle her. The curate increased his opportunities to sexually abuse Chloe by picking her up from school and arranging trips, when he would drive her to quiet lanes.

When she saw him waiting outside the school she would take a different route or walk with a friend to avoid him. She told this friend what Ronnie had been doing. One day when Chloe was alone at home due to illness, Ronnie came to the house and in the bedroom asked her to undress. She told him to get out and he did leave.

Chloe was extremely distressed and told her parents. They spoke to the local church about the sexual abuse and Ronnie was transferred to another area, although this did not happen immediately. Chloe understands the bishop had to be persuaded to remove the curate. She also believes the local vicar had known something about Ronnie’s behaviour.

Chloe describes how the sexual abuse has affected her. She has been on antidepressants since her early 20s, suffers from severe anxiety and sexual issues and is unable to eat in front of people.

As cases of sexual abuse were highlighted in the media, Chloe decided to report Ronnie to the church. An extensive investigation and a prosecution followed, and Ronnie was convicted. The disclosure to her school friend many years ago was a determining and supportive factor in securing a conviction, and Chloe managed to find her friend to provide this evidence.

Chloe is clear that this was an important action for her to take but the process has also had a significant impact on her. Chloe feels that the judicial process can make the victim feel like the criminal.

She thinks it is important for the victims to be given as much information as possible about the process, such as what to expect in a court setting. The case against Ronnie was heard by different judges and she believes the loss of her usual barrister at a crucial stage in the case affected Ronnie’s sentence.

Chloe feels strongly there should be consistency and continuity in the judicial system that ensures judges, police and barristers have an understanding and knowledge of the case they are dealing with; that support for victims and survivors is crucial and that counselling should be made available to them. Chloe also wants Ronnie to acknowledge what he has done and apologise to her.

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