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Experiences Shared

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Due to the current situation caused by coronavirus (Covid-19) we have made some changes to Truth Project sessions in person.
The Truth Project will draw to a close during 2021. We encourage you to share your experience before it concludes.

Eleni

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Eleni’s parents were unable to look after her so she lived with a relative. Because she was being bullied, at the age of eight she was moved to a private school.

Her class teacher, Mr B, was extremely popular in the school. He soon began to single Eleni out for particular attention. When Eleni’s guardian picked her up from school Mr B would make a point of speaking to him, praising Eleni and saying that she was his ‘star pupil’. 

After a few months, Mr B asked her to go with him to the basement at the end of the school day, to tidy up equipment. This happened two or three times a week. He began to compliment Eleni and touch her. She says that at the time she did not know this was unusual behaviour and because of her upbringing, she would never have refused anything a teacher asked her to do.   

The sexual abuse escalated, with Mr B getting Eleni to take off her clothes and pose while he photographed her, and making her touch him sexually, and herself. Over time, Eleni says, she wanted it to stop but could not see a way out and would not have told anyone, as Mr B had made her promise not to.

She remembers that her guardian often asked why she was always late coming out of school, but she told him she was helping the teacher.  

When Eleni moved up into the next school year, she expected to have a different teacher, but Mr B stayed with her class for a second year. The abuse continued and became more extreme. By the time she was nine years old he was raping her every week. He always videoed and photographed the assaults.

The abuse ended the following school year, when Eleni had a different teacher. She still saw Mr B around the school and he made a point of talking to her and stressing that she must never tell anyone what had happened.  

When Eleni was in her late teens she heard that Mr B had been sent to prison for possessing indecent images of children. The school claimed to have carried out an investigation which found that no pupil had been harmed by him. 

Eleni feels very angry about this. Neither she nor anyone she knows of was questioned by the school. She says it was well known at the time that she was his ‘special star pupil’ and she feels that this should have rung an alarm bell at the school, especially once he was charged with sexual abuse offences.

She is haunted by the possibility that photos and recordings of her are available online. 

Eleni feels that the abuser took her innocence and her life was never the same thereafter. The abuse traumatised her and affected her behaviour and her mental health in later life. She says she felt isolated from other children her age. She began to self-harm in her teenage years, she was raped when she was 16 and she attempted suicide a year later.  

Eleni believes that private education should be subject to the same rigorous standards of safeguarding as mainstream schools. She thinks that all staff working with children should be encouraged to question and challenge unusual behaviour. She would like there to be better support for young people in school and more access to services such as specialist therapy.  

 

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