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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Dominic grew up in the 1960s and 70s. He was one of five children in what he describes as ‘a very, very poor family’.

His family was befriended by a man, Gil, who was a senior leader in a local Red Cross youth group. Dominic says ‘He wheedled himself into our family life like a friend’. 

Gil began taking Dominic and one of his brothers out on day trips to local attractions. Afterwards, the boys used to stay in his house in separate rooms. During the night, he came into Dominic’s room, got into bed with him and simulated sex. Dominic says ‘I could smell his stinking cigar smoke’.

This sexual abuse occurred on many occasions in Gil’s house, and also on camping trips.

Dominic now knows that as a young boy who had not reached puberty, he did not understand what was happening, or even that it was necessarily wrong. He remembers that Gil would sometimes promise to give him a valuable coin, which was significant because his family was very poor.

He also recalls Gil saying that if Dominic told his parents he would not be believed, adding ‘You’ll get a good hiding.’ And, he adds, ‘I think he was right, because he was a trusted member of the family … how the hell could I tell anyone? I would have got a smack around the head for being rude. They would never have taken my word in those days’.

He does not remember exactly when the sexual abuse ended, or the circumstances, but guesses it was probably because he got older and took up different activities and interests. Or maybe, Dominic says, the abuser ‘just lost interest in me’.

Dominic relates that he was not certain at the time if Gil was abusing his brother in the same way, but he wondered about it. He relates that about 12 months ago, he heard from one of his nephews that his brother had been sexually abused by the Red Cross leader. His brother had reported the abuse to his local police force but had been disbelieved and disregarded because he had a mental health problem.

Sadly, his brother passed away some years ago.

‘My brother is the reason I am here today,’ says Dominic. He speaks with emotion about the deep affection he felt for his kind and gentle brother, who he says was ‘the most lovable person you could meet’.

He adds: ‘The police would not listen to my brother… they dismissed his case’.

Dominic describes how being sexually abused has affected his life. He says that at school, he became ‘a thug’, and later when he joined the armed forces, he got into trouble for fighting. 

He gives an honest account that sometimes when he was a teenager, he was violent towards gay people. He is clear that he now understands that being homosexual and being a paedophile are completely different things.

Dominic says that when he was in the armed forces, he put the sexual abuse to the back of his mind. But after he left, seeing story lines of child sexual abuse featured in television soap operas brought back memories of the experiences he suffered. He still finds it very painful to see certain things on television. 

He describes how his home is a refuge for him and he often feels strongly that he doesn’t want to see or talk to anyone, or to have anyone knocking on the door. He has had issues with misusing alcohol.

He still feels considerable anger towards the abuser, who is now deceased, and also concern about how many more people he may have abused. He also remains very distressed that his brother suffered the same sexual abuse and even though his brother was older than him, he feels he should have protected him.

Dominic has close relationships with some friends and family members and professional support for his issues with alcohol. 


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