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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Neglected by his mother and sexually abused throughout his childhood by adults who were supposed to care for him, Colin is striving to come to terms with his experiences.

Colin says that part of this process, with help from his wife and a support worker, is talking about feelings he suppressed for many years, and speaking out to the Inquiry.

Colin and his two siblings were taken into care when he was very young but were not kept together. He describes bouncing around numerous children’s homes ‘like a ping-pong ball’. He often returned from school to find his suitcase packed and a stranger would take him to yet another unfamiliar home.

The absence of any stability in Colin’s life led to behavioural problems. As a young child he was taken to a combined mental health unit and school. During the time he was there, he was given different medications which he believes were unnecessary.

No one talked to Colin about his behaviour. He says he wasn’t mentally ill – he was simply a very traumatised little boy.

Colin says he would be taken into a padded cell where a Dr Gibby would give him medication and put a mask over his face, pouring a strong-smelling liquid onto it that he now recognises as ether. He has vague memories of that time but is certain he was sexually abused by Dr Gibby.

Even as a young child he knew something was very wrong when he left the cell feeling very sore around his bottom. But he was too young to understand what was happening to him or to tell anyone.

A few years later, Colin was taken to another children’s home. One day, a male staff member came up behind him and put his hands down the front of his trousers, fondling him.

The staff member threatened Colin, saying no one would believe him if he said anything and that he wouldn’t get any pocket money. Colin tried to stay out of this man’s way but on another occasion the member of staff sexually abused and raped him in the basement of the home.

He ran away several times. He begged the police not to return him to the home, telling them he didn’t want to be hurt again, but the police didn’t listen and took him back.

Colin says he became a very angry young man. He would frequently pick fights, seeking out the physical pain that acted as a release for him.

After being involved in a serious fight, Colin spent time in a young offenders’ institution, which he preferred to the children’s homes as there was a sense of stability and he knew exactly where he was and how long he would be staying for.

On another occasion when he got into trouble he was given the choice between serving a prison sentence or joining the armed forces. He chose the forces, and this marked a major turning point in his life. Colin enjoyed his time as a serviceman.

The military discipline gave him an outlet for his pent-up aggression and anger. He feels certain that if he hadn’t joined up he would have become a career criminal and could have been convicted of very serious offences.

Over a decade later, Colin met his future wife and left the services. Having known very little about his family he was recently contacted by one of his siblings, who had been looking for him for many years. Colin is trying to find information about other family members, but data protection rules are making this difficult.

He feels angry about the lack of assistance from the local authority that has resulted in him spending most of his life without his family. He wants to know who decided to separate him from his siblings, and why this happened.

Colin has suffered from depression and was unable to talk to his wife about what had happened to him until recently, when following media reports of child sexual abuse, he decided to come forward.

He came to speak to the Inquiry as part of his healing process and because he wants to try to prevent other children being hurt. He is fearful for children in care and is worried nothing will change. He has struggled to find any appropriate local support and feels that cutbacks mean essential social and care services can’t be provided.

He describes how he is constantly troubled by his experiences: ‘You always carry that stigma. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, I keep mulling it over. Could I have done things differently? Could I have done more to get someone to listen to me? But I concluded, no, I couldn’t.’

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