Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Diane

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

A teacher at Diane’s school exploited his position of power and authority to sexually abuse her. From then until now, the emotions and effects this caused for her have included feeling flattered, confused, depressed, anxious and suicidal.

Diane relates that when she started senior school, she became friendly with one of the teachers, Mr Jones.

At first, they would just chat and if she was in the classroom with him he would always make sure that the door was open. But after about 18 months, the relationship changed; they began exchanging gifts and cards and Mr Jones then started visiting her at home.

Other pupils in the school noticed and used to tease her, saying that the teacher was her boyfriend, which really annoyed her at the time. No one in authority at the school questioned the friendship.

Mr Jones encouraged her to go on a school trip and came into the room she was staying in. He sat on her bed, put his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek; she remembers feeling flattered by this. There was also an occasion on the trip when Diane and Mr Jones kissed openly in front of others.

The relationship became sexual, and she describes how sexual activity happened in the woods, in his car and even in the school during the holidays. Once she was in a classroom with Mr Jones when another teacher tried to open the door but could not because it was locked. When Diane left the room, the other teacher queried why she was there, but Mr Jones replied that she had needed to talk about something.

At the time of the sexual abuse, Diane tried to end her life. She was sent to see a psychiatrist and, although she did not say what was happening with Mr Jones, she did talk about him a lot. Diane attempted suicide again a few months later.

Diane says her school advised she should change schools, and that the school records say that she had developed an unhealthy relationship with the teacher and indicate this was her fault. She still blames herself today for the sexual abuse.

Soon after starting her new school she reported the sexual abuse to the police. A female police officer told her that she would be in a lot of trouble if she was lying and that she would have to tell her mother what had happened. The police officer visited the family home and took a very detailed statement.

Diane says her mother was not very surprised – she had pieced it all together – but she felt she had let her mother down when she gave all the detail of the abuse.

Months passed with no contact from the police, so Diane enquired what was happening. The police told her that despite believing her, they did not have enough evidence. She describes how she was so shocked she attempted to take her life again.

Diane and her mother went to the Citizens Advice Bureau, who suggested that they make contact with the education authority. A few weeks later they received a letter from the authority saying that the matter had been investigated.

Diane thinks they did not want a scandal. She reported the sexual abuse to the police again in the early 2000s and more recently but continues to feel ‘fobbed off’.

Diane says the police have told her the papers from the investigation have been destroyed; the teacher was interviewed, but he told them the sexual abuse ‘was just a crush’. Other teachers at the school who could have been interviewed have now passed away.

She has also been told by an officer that in his opinion what happened to her was not grooming, as grooming tends to happen quickly, and that the sexual abuse would have been noticed.

Diane feels angry that the police have not investigated the case properly, and she is determined to keep fighting. She says: ‘I want answers … I want justice.’ She also questions whether the police response was based on her family’s race, and that her mother was not fluent enough in English to question the police or their investigations.

She suffers from depression and anxiety and feels that she did not do as well at school as she could have done. She has periods when she finds it difficult to work. Although she holds down a job she lacks the confidence to apply for anything new. She also finds trust and relationships difficult. 

Diane says she feels that people do not see the damage caused by sexual abuse. She says: ‘It is seen as a dark dirty secret that no one wants to talk about.’ She is concerned that when those who suffer sexual abuse report it, the police still do not get the message.

She would like to see increased support for those reporting sexual abuse to the police. She also feels that there are not enough places for victims and survivors of abuse to go for legal advice, with a lot of companies only being interested in compensation claims

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