Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Douglas

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Douglas describes a childhood of bullying, fear and sexual abuse at the hands of those who should have cared for and protected him.

As a young boy, Douglas sustained a brain injury. As a result, his behaviour changed and his mother found it hard to manage him. She approached social services and Douglas was placed in a residential assessment centre. He remembers trying to run away on the day he first arrived and being placed alone in a secure cell.

The culture of the unit was of bullying and physical and sexual abuse. Punishments included being stripped naked and locked in a secure cell for the weekend. Bullying by other inmates was encouraged by staff as a means of control and sexual abuse by Patrick, a residential worker, was prolific.

Douglas also spent time at a second residential home with a similar harsh and abusive environment. With visible distress, he describes being returned to the first unit two or three times, to be greeted by Patrick rubbing his hands at the sight of him returning. He says: ‘It was like facing my worst nightmare each time I was sent back.’

Douglas now thinks that Patrick was part of an organised paedophile group that he supplied with looked-after children. He remembers being transported in a van up and down the country.

On one occasion, when he believes he was drugged, he was driven many miles from his residential unit. He remembers seeing a road sign of the place he was taken to, before he was taken into a concealed outside area, where he was sexually abused by different men.

Douglas says that during his time in care he witnessed the sexual abuse and rape of other young people. He tried to complain at the second unit but was told he was not allowed to.

The only person who showed Douglas any kindness in his childhood was his social worker, but she failed to take any action to protect him. Nor did the police, when he came to their attention for petty thieving as an adolescent, nor later, his probation officer.

As an adult, Douglas reported the sexual abuse in the residential units to the police. Some other victims and survivors came forward and he believes their accounts of sexual abuse were supported by evidence from professionals. Patrick and others were charged and appeared in court, but the case was dismissed.

Douglas was awarded a significant amount of money in compensation for his sexual abuse, which he donated to provide counselling for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

He says he did not want money – he wanted, and still wants, justice.

Throughout his life, Douglas feels he has been treated as second class by society, as a result of being in care. He has experienced mental health problems and struggled to find a counsellor he felt could help him. He has difficulties with relationships and recently he has lost contact with his child.

He feels the judge used his history of care and sexual abuse against him in reaching this decision and feels angry, bitter and let down again.

Douglas has spent many years campaigning for justice for himself and other victims and survivors of child sexual abuse at the residential homes. He wants to see more thorough checks made on those people working with children. He says: ‘Victims need justice – it is not about money.’

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