Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Ethan

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Ethan says he had a positive childhood with wonderful supportive parents and lots of opportunities. But this was marred by sexual abuse perpetrated by an adult from a youth organisation.

Ethan’s parents believed him when he told them, and took action, but stopped short of involving the police. He worries that his abuser may have continued his crimes.

As a young boy Ethan joined the Cub Scouts and enjoyed activities, camping and shows. He and his friends took part in opportunities to learn new skills and to gain badges.

Ethan remembers that when he was about eight years old the Scoutmaster, Seb, invited him to his house for a training session. During the lesson, Seb asked him if he knew how babies were made. Ethan did know as his mum had talked to him about such things.

Seb then asked him if he had seen sperm and encouraged Ethan to sit on his lap, while he nuzzled his neck and masturbated over him. Ethan recalls this was clearly presented to him as an opportunity to educate him.

Many similar incidents followed, including an occasion when Seb made Ethan and another boy ‘demonstrate sex’. Again, this was done in the guise of educating them. After a time, the sexual abuse stopped, and Ethan recalls walking home from junior school with two Scouting friends. One, Steve, spoke about Seb having touched him. Ethan said it had happened to him too, while the third friend defended Seb.

Ethan clearly remembers realising at that point that the sexual abuse was not just happening to him, but other boys were involved. He says he felt conflicting emotions as he realised that it wasn’t because he was special, which was how he had been made to feel; he felt a bit jealous that other boys had been involved and he felt ashamed.

A couple of years later the parents of Ethan and Steve were contacted by the parents of Arthur, another Scout. Arthur had told his parents that Seb had sexually abused him, and the two boys’ parents asked them whether anything had happened to them.

Ethan told his parents about what Seb had done, and they were very supportive. The two sets of parents together decided not to involve the police, but they did ensure Seb resigned from the Scouts.

Over the years Ethan says he has asked himself why he didn’t tell at the time what was happening to him. He concludes that what happened was normalised, society didn’t speak about child sexual abuse then, he wasn’t hurt and maybe he enjoyed being made to feel special. He also feels what was happening to him in the Scouts was a common experience within the organisation at that time.

Despite going on to have a successful career, a happy marriage and wonderful children, he does feel the sexual abuse affected his sexuality and sexual behaviours and he is concerned that Seb may have continued to sexually abuse children.

Ethan thinks that no one should be immune from prosecution; even if perpetrators are dead they should be spotlighted, and cover-ups should come to light. People should be made accountable for what they have done; not necessarily sent to prison but restorative justice could be applied.

He would like an apology from his abuser, and more importantly to know he is not still sexually abusing children. He also thinks cultural changes are needed to empower children, with education from a very young age about sexual abuse and what is right and wrong if an adult touches them.

He is concerned about societal views of fathers that can make them hesitant to offer comfort to a child in distress for fear of being labelled a paedophile. He would like the media to consider the impact of sensationalist headlines.

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