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Experiences Shared

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Due to the current situation caused by coronavirus (Covid-19) we have made some changes to Truth Project sessions in person. You can still share your experience with the Truth Project over the phone, in writing, and now through a video call.


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Dan was born during the war. His mother was a single parent and he was adopted at birth by a couple whom he describes as ‘lovely’ parents, and he says he had ‘a great childhood’.

Sadly his adoptive father died when Dan was still young. He suspects that the lack of a father figure in his life made him vulnerable to the sexual abuse he was subjected to by a Scout leader.

Dan was 11 years old when he joined the local Scout group. It was attached to the local church and was recommended by friends as a good troop to join.

He describes how on camping trips, the Scout leader would often wrestle with the boys. By the end of the week the leader ‘became more intimate’ with them, touching their genital area.

Dan says at the time, he ‘did not think much of it’ but on a later occasion back home at a Scout meeting, Dan found himself alone with the leader. The leader started touching his ‘private parts’ and asked Dan to ‘stroke’ his penis. Dan remembers that he did not know what to do – he had never done anything like that before.

For several years after this, when the Scout leader was alone with Dan, he took the opportunity to abuse him. The abuser told Dan the abuse was ‘our little secret’.

The abuse included masturbation and oral sex. Dan says he can still remember the taste as it was ‘horrible’, but thinks it ‘could have been worse’ as there was no penetration. He adds that the abuse was sometimes was very rough and his genital area would be sore.

At the time, Dan says, he didn’t realise the abuse was wrong – he simply thought it was ‘what happens’. He now believes that his abuser recognised his vulnerability, particularly because he had no father or any other close male family figure or role model. Dan describes himself as ‘ripe for the picking’ by the abuser.

He recalls feeling ashamed of himself and guilty, and says that at times he questioned his sexuality. As time went by, he became involved in other activities, including football. The abuse stopped when he left school and went to work and he says it was at this point he realised ‘it was not right’.   

Dan did not report the abuse because he felt there was no one he could tell. His abuser was a high profile member of the community and Dan says he was frightened of the police in those days. He felt he wanted to protect his mother so was not able to tell her.  

More than 60 years after the abuse, Dan spoke about it for the first time, prompted by publicity about the footballers’ and Savile cases. He says ‘I thought, that happened to me and it brought it all back’, so he told the local vicar.

The vicar referred him to the safeguarding officer for the diocese, who responded that it was nothing to do with them and that Dan should contact the Scout Association. The Scout Association told Dan that no one else had reported abuse by the leader, who was now deceased, and advised him to go to his doctor. Dan’s GP suggested that he go to the police. As his abuser was dead, Dan decided not to do this.

Dan describes his disappointment with the attitude of different institutions. He considers how the church and the Scouts have taken no responsibility and have provided no support. He understands how other people, faced with the same response, could simply give up and live with the impact of the abuse.

He adds that he was asked if he was ‘in it for the compensation’. He is clear that nothing could compensate for what happened to him.

Dan has been accessing counselling through a local charity. He says he has found this, and talking to the Truth Project, very helpful and supportive: ‘I feel better having got it out and people listening.’ He has also told his wife, and is thankful that she too has been supportive. He adds that he no longer feels the guilt, having ‘got it off my chest’.

He does not believe that he was the first or last boy to be abused by the scoutmaster. He also thinks that other leaders were abusing boys in different Scout troops – he remembers that the boys warned each other about being alone with some leaders, but says he did not actually witness any other abuse.

Dan feels strongly that organisations should be aware of the effect of non-recent abuse and that allegations need to be properly investigated. He would like to see closer monitoring of Scout groups, and wants more organisations to listen to victims and survivors.

He adds that organisations where abuse has taken place should provide information and support for victims and survivors, and offer somewhere they can talk about the abuse without fear of being stigmatised.

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