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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Dexter’s earliest memories are of feeling no love from his parents, only fear. 

Desperate for affection, he was grateful for the hugs his older brother gave him. But this comfort was a prelude to sexual abuse.

Dexter explains that his mother had serious mental health problems and was sectioned on several occasions. His dad was also frequently absent because he was in prison.

When his parents were at home, they abused alcohol, and neglected and emotionally abused their children. On occasions, the older children were placed in care, but Dexter was not.

He was the youngest child in the family and his brother was nearly a decade older than him.

Dexter was five years old when his brother began sexually abusing him. They shared a bedroom and Dexter says he often wet the bed because he was afraid that if he got up and woke his brother, the abuse would happen again.

His mum humiliated Dexter for his bed-wetting and this caused him more shame and upset.

The abuse went on for about seven years, until Dexter was old enough to tell his brother to stop. But, that meant he no longer had any physical contact or affection from anyone. 

After Dexter attempted suicide he was admitted to hospital. 

Dexter just wanted someone to listen but no one ever did. He once told his parents that his brother had sexually abused him, but they said he was a liar.

After his brother left home he called Dexter to ask him to go and stay. Dexter remembers being very excited about this, as he had never left his home village and his brother was living in a big city.

But when he visited his brother, he was locked in a bedroom and raped by one of his brother’s friends. Dexter escaped the next morning and got back home. He was in his early teens at the time. 

He did tell a friend what had happened, who reported it to the police. A successful prosecution followed. Dexter was admitted into care shortly after this, which he remembers as a happy experience. He believes that his brother was abused when he was in the care system.

Because of the abuse he suffered, Dexter always tried hard to fit in at school, and not to cause any trouble. But he had no friends, was bullied, and his education suffered. 

Later, there was a period when he says he used drugs and, still craving affection, he engaged in risky sexual behaviour.

However, he says this is now in the past and feels he has made a very successful life and has a very positive outlook. He has a kind, loving partner and family. He loves his job.

He adds that he accesses mental health support when he needs it and has very supportive work colleagues.

Dexter would like to see good quality NHS services to support young people in crisis. He believes that social and healthcare services could be enhanced with a panel of service users to give input into decisions, improved training for professionals and peer-to-peer support schemes.


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