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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

When she was about 13, Darcy was raped by a 19-year-old neighbour in his house. She did not feel her mother or the police believed her account of what had happened.

Another neighbour pretended to be supportive, but in reality was an opportunistic abuser. Darcy says her confusion over his behaviour left her unable to distinguish between sexual advances and friendship, and made her vulnerable to even more abuse.

Darcy had been invited into the older teenager’s house. After she went in, he pinned her down and raped her. She ran from the house and another neighbour took her to her mother. 

She recalls going to the police with her mother and being taken to what she thought may have been a doctor’s surgery. No one explained what was happening and she describes how frightening and embarrassing the examination was for her. 

She is not sure what sort of investigation took place into the rape but it was clear that she was not believed.

Shortly after the rape, another neighbour befriended Darcy, appearing to offer her the comfort and sympathy she did not receive from her family or the professionals involved. He was a middle-aged man. By showing sympathy and kindness he gained Darcy’s trust and confidence, but she now realises this was part of a grooming process. 

Over the next two years, he raped Darcy. He persuaded her to pose naked for him and to perform oral sex on him. She was 14 years old when this began, and she says she believed she was having a relationship with him. She felt ‘totally in love’ with him – he bought her gifts that made her feel she was important to him, adding ‘no one bought me anything at home’. 

As the ‘relationship’ progressed and Darcy became increasingly reliant upon him, he became emotionally abusive towards her. He would sleep with other women, and make sure she knew. Darcy says she found this more than she could bear and she took overdoses and self-harmed on several occasions. 

Before he began to abuse her, Darcy had been doing well at school, but she recalls that over the two years the abuse occurred, she only attended school for about 10 days. The abuser had children himself and he abused Darcy while they were at school. 

Darcy feels let down that her family and professionals did not intervene to protect her. She says her education suffered, but her lack of attendance was not questioned by anyone. Although she was in her mid teens and her abuser was about 40, their ‘relationship’ was common knowledge in the neighbourhood. She thinks some people considered it to be her ‘obsession’ with the man.

She believes that her experience of what she now sees as a ‘fake relationship’ distorted her response to male attention. It was not until she was in her 30s that she understood about grooming and sexual abuse.

She was abused by three other men around the time she was abused by the neighbour. One was a manager at her part time job, and another was a different neighbour.

She recalls that professionals were involved with her family because her brother had ADHD and was sometimes violent. She also says that the police called at her neighbour’s house when she was in bed with him, but although she was underage no action was taken. She says her mother did nothing to protect her either.

Darcy emphasises the importance of reassuring children that they will be believed if they report sexual abuse.

Remembering the confusion she felt about the sexual abuse and rape she experienced, she believes that relationship education and training should be given to children as young as five or six, so they can learn the difference between appropriate and inappropriate relationships.

Darcy says she is now trying to rebuild her life, and has taken positive steps towards gaining the education that was interrupted during her childhood. She is also engaging in counselling which she finds helpful. 


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