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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Although Dustin’s faith has remained strong, he hasn’t been able to forget the abuse he suffered within the church. 

The abuse took place at the church where Dustin was a chorister. It began when he was 10 years old and continued for a number of years.

Dustin’s parents caught him stealing money from the church collection, and took him to the vicarage to confess his misdemeanour.

The vicar rebuked Dustin and asked him whether he was prepared to do anything to atone for the theft. Dustin said he would and was given some odd jobs to do around the church.  

The vicar used this as an opportunity to groom and sexually abuse Dustin. The abuse consisted of mutual masturbation and oral sex. Afterwards the vicar would give Dustin money. He also showed Dustin pornography.

Dustin tried to report the abuse, but the dean called him a liar. The abuse continued until he was in his mid teens. The last time it happened was an occasion when he thinks the abuse could have ‘gone much further’ but the vicar was interrupted by his wife arriving.

The vicar never abused him again, but another clergyman once attempted to get into bed with Dustin, who was staying with him after a church event. Dustin told him to get out, and this man claimed he knew Dustin would ‘like it’.   

Dustin went to college and worked in the hospitality industry, before going to sea. During this period, he was sexually harassed and victimised several times by different individuals; he says they seemed to sense his vulnerability and loneliness.  

He remained involved with the church, and some years later, he was encouraged by a friend to make a statement to the archbishop. The archbishop questioned Dustin about his sexuality and advised him that he should stay celibate. 

Dustin was ordained and moved to a new church but he was troubled by his past experiences and unable to settle. Following a breakdown, he moved away and embarked on other careers. 

At various points he tried to return to the church but his efforts were thwarted. One bishop informed Dustin that he had been blacklisted and would not be able to officiate. 

He was also informed that he needed to have his blue folder, which contained a record of his career. This would also have included the report he made of the sexual abuse and he was told it had been lost. Dustin believes it was destroyed to cover up his allegation.  

Dustin always kept himself very busy so he wouldn’t have to think about the abuse he suffered, but he felt his life was ‘completely empty’. He regrets not having a family of his own.

Dustin feels it is essential that compassion is not lost in the protocols and processes of safeguarding. He thinks it can be difficult for some small institutions to deliver safeguarding training and it would help if training could be tailored for these organisations. 

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