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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Edison grew up witnessing regular violence from his stepfather towards his mother. After the couple separated, his mother believed the reason her son continued to spend time with her ex-partner was that their relationship had survived the marital breakdown. 

In fact, Edison’s stepfather was sexually abusing him, and threatened to kill Edison and his mother if he stopped visiting or told anyone. 

The abuse went on for two years, until Edison was 12 years old, and his stepfather was charged with raping a woman. 

 This gave him the courage to tell his mother about the abuse. She reported it to the counsellor at his school, who questioned him and then passed the information to the police. 

Edison says this was when ‘It all went wrong’. He describes how the police arrived at his school, drawing attention to him and prompting rumours and questions from other pupils that he did not know how to answer. 

The school counsellor, whom he trusted and liked, left the school and was replaced by someone he did not trust. Eventually, he was assigned a counsellor through children’s mental health services. Edison was diagnosed with PTSD. 

Because of this incident, his mother withdrew him from the school. 

Edison says that no support was provided or offered at any stage of the police interview, which he remembers was ‘pretty horrible … really long’. Added to this, nobody contacted his mother with any updates or progress reports about his case.

A very difficult couple of years followed for Edison and his family. The ‘appropriate adult’ that Edison had asked to support him gossiped about the case, and what had happened to him became known in the local community. He says  ‘Since I have told the police, I feel my life has been stolen from me … members of the public have verbally abused me and my mum saying we are liars … I would of been much happier and safer if I had said nothing’.

When the case came to court, Edison was cross examined extensively which, he says, ‘didn’t seem fair’. The defence brought up details such as allegations of petty crime from when he was a young boy.

When his abuser was found not guilty due to lack of evidence, he says it felt to him like more proof that the system was loaded against victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

He says that life remains difficult for him in his community, which includes friends of his abuser. 

However, he has succeeded in his education and is completing more qualifications. He  continues to see a counsellor to help him cope with his PTSD. 

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