Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Elliot  says that as a child he was ‘nervous and unconfident’. He found school difficult and used to truant. Overwhelmed by the outside world, he says home was the only place where he felt safe.

But the security of this refuge was taken from him when a family friend came to lodge in his home. This older male exploited Elliot’s insecurity and intimidated, controlled and sexually abused him.

Elliot had three older siblings. He describes how he felt as the youngest member: ‘Whatever I was doing, I never felt of great importance. I was used to being worried about everything and trying to avoid being noticed as much as possible, really.’

He was 11 years old when the lodger first abused him. The perpetrator was a student at the time, and was sometimes at home when Elliot returned from school. The abuse began with him making comments to Elliot such as ‘You’ll have to take your uniform off.’

When Elliot was having a bath, the lodger would walk in and stay talking to him ‘for ages’. He went on to ask Elliot if he had started masturbating. At the time, Elliot didn’t know what this was.

Elliot says he finds it very difficult to speak about the specifics of the abuse, but he explains that he was influenced and normalised by the sexual conversation and behaviour of the lodger. He was given alcohol and on one occasion, a tablet, by the older male.

The abuser also used subjugation and humiliation to control Elliot. He once commented on the size of Elliot’s penis and called him a derogatory nickname. He continued to call Elliot by this name, as if ‘it was his own little private joke’.

Elliot was threatened that if he told his parents about the abuse, they would know that he was regularly coming home, and he would probably be sent to a ‘special school’. Elliot says he was ‘terrified’ this might happen.

When other people were in the house, the lodger’s behaviour was ‘completely normal’, Elliot says. But he became ‘like a different person’ as soon as he was alone with Elliot.

Elliot comments that he is not sure if it was a need for sexual gratification or control that motivated the abuser, but he feels he was very clever in his manipulation of Elliot. He says: ‘All the time he would be telling me what to think and what was normal and what wasn’t.’

He adds that he always felt ‘he wouldn’t be a match’ for the lodger if he reported the abuse. He says the abuser was very good at playing on his weaknesses, and would say things like ‘who do you think they will believe, you or me?’ and ‘you’re nervous about everything, you’re not normal.’

After some months, the family friend moved out of the house. Elliot thinks that his father sensed how uncomfortable Elliot was but he does not think that his father knew exactly what was happening. He adds that his father died a few years ago and he believes that ‘the truth would have crucified my dad.’

Elliot believes that the abuse he suffered has definitely affected the way he relates to others, especially as a young adult. He was in a long-term relationship but he separated from his wife as he felt he ‘didn’t deserve a happy, decent relationship’.

He comments: ‘I suppose looking back now I took my anger I felt towards him and directed it towards myself.’

He feels he always has a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to people, and thinks they have a hidden agenda. He has used alcohol as a way of coping with the impact of the abuse and has had frequent contact with mental health services, but has never felt supported enough to disclose the sexual abuse.  

Elliot also describes how his life choices have been impacted by the abuse – he has given up any prospects of a career in his chosen profession. He has not reported the abuse to the police as he is worried about the power of the perpetrator, and that he, Elliot, would not be believed. As a ‘family friend’, the abuser has had a lot of contact with Elliot’s family throughout his adult life.

He adds that child sexual abuse was not in his consciousness at all and that it ‘wasn’t even on the table to talk about’. He says: ‘When you’re that age, you listen to what everyone says as you think they know everything and you know nothing.’

Elliot called a helpline and found that talking to someone was cathartic. He subsequently did some research and found the Truth Project. He sees it as a way to get some of what he feels off his chest, without having to go to court.

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