Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Dean

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

As a boy, Dean liked to sing. He gained in place in a school as a boarder where he joined the choir. The choirmaster used to take the boys to sing in the cathedral and Dean thought that singing in the cathedral was like ‘being in heaven’.

But there were two difficult things about the school that Dean accepted as being normal. One was the routine and intense physical abuse, usually caning for very minor matters. The second was the sexual intimacy between students.

Dean was drawn into two relationships with members of staff. A choirmaster took a particular interest in Dean’s musical development and would take Dean back to his room to work with him. Dean thought of the choirmaster and himself as special friends, connected emotionally and physically.

He has blocked some specific events of the abuse out of his mind, but he is sure there was sexual activity. Dean recalls an occasion when the choirmaster invited Dean to go for a drive in his car. He stopped at the side of a road and went into the bushes, saying he needed to go to the toilet. Dean followed him, and he asked Dean to fondle his genitals. Dean refused and they got back in the car and drove home.

The second episode of abuse was by a teacher who took Dean into his room and sexually abused him. 

The abuse led to difficulties at school. One day he ran away and walked some miles to his friend’s house. His father was called. During the drive back to the school, Dean told his father that he feared being caned for running away. His father said that he wouldn’t let that happen, and spoke to the headmaster, who promised not to cane Dean. After Dean’s father left, the headmaster caned him.

Many years later, the police investigated the teacher. The teacher denied everything, and the police told Dean that it was up to him to decide whether he wanted to take it forward to the Crown Prosecution Service. 

Dean says he has suffered from abandonment issues, and feelings of vulnerability and defencelessness all his life. He thinks this is caused by feeling helpless to stop the canings and the sexual activity. He has struggled to maintain relationships. His relationship with his children has been affected because he is not comfortable touching and hugging them as this tends to trigger memories for him.

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