Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Dylan grew up in a family of active church members. But the sexual abuse he and others were subjected to by a curate and the inadequate response from the church have caused him extreme distress and turned him away from his religion.

The sexual abuse happened to Dylan when he was a boy. In his teenage years, he saw a news report about his abuser, Jacob, who had been convicted of an offence against another boy. This prompted Dylan to disclose his own abuse to his parents.

His father reported it to a bishop who advised him that Jacob had been moved to a new parish away from the area and the police were monitoring him. The bishop added that Jacob had been censured by the church and demoted. Some years later, Dylan discovered that Jacob had left a church in a different area following rumours of his inappropriate behaviour with children.

Dylan went to the police to report his sexual abuse and provided details of others who may have been sexually abused around the same time. He says the police were supportive and helpful following his reports and during the criminal proceedings.

A clergyman spoke in court, but Dylan says he was not truthful about what had occurred. He suggested that Jacob had led a blame-free life for many years, that he was still doing good work and shouldn’t be sent to prison. Jacob received a suspended sentence and was later de-frocked by the church.

Dylan feels that the only concern of the church officials was to redeem Jacob, not do the right thing for him and other victims. He says that Jacob was presented as the innocent one in court and he thinks the clergyman should not have been allowed to give evidence – he did not tell the truth about Jacob’s past behaviour and he had misled other parents that Jacob would not be allowed to work with children again.

The police contacted Dylan a few years later, asking him to provide evidence after another victim came forward to report sexual abuse by Jacob. At the subsequent trial Jacob was convicted and jailed.

Dylan has found out that since leaving prison, Jacob still has the protection of the church concerning his current home and income. He thinks that the church may still not always be acting appropriately in responding to safeguarding allegations and they are still denying or making excuses for those they know have previously committed sexual abuse.

As a result of his experiences, the stresses of criminal proceedings and other difficulties, Dylan has been on the verge of taking his own life. He says the thought of his children and the effect it would have on them was the only thing that stopped him.

He has not made a formal complaint to the church about his sexual abuse. He has considered it but feels he has a stable and happy family life now and doesn’t want to upset that. He is reluctant to seek compensation as he doesn’t want to be labelled a person who is only seeking money. He adds that he doesn’t want to jeopardise opportunities for others to come forward and report their sexual abuse in the future. However, Dylan would like a formal apology from the church for the actions of the clergy in covering up the abuse and putting other children at risk.

He is no longer a practising Christian. He occasionally attends church for celebrations but finds it difficult to be in church buildings because of the bad memories they bring back.

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