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Experiences Shared

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The‌ ‌Inquiry‌ ‌has‌ ‌taken‌ ‌the‌ ‌difficult decision‌‌ to‌ ‌stop‌ holding face to face Truth Project sessions‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌time, after carefully considering the Government's guidance. Other methods of sharing are still available.


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Fletcher was born towards the end of the Second World War. His mother was English and married to a British soldier who was serving overseas. His father was a black American GI. 

Handed over to the care system, Fletcher was sexually abused by the headteacher of a boys’ home. 

Fletcher knows his mother was well aware she would not be able to keep him when her husband came back from the war. He believes his father wanted to take him to the United States but was not allowed to.

Instead, he was sent to a series of ‘Waifs and Strays’ homes, run by the Church of England. When he was about seven or eight years old, he was transferred to a home in a city, where he was one of three black boys.

The headteacher, Steven, lived with his wife on the site. Fletcher was one of several boys ‘molested’ by Steven. The abuser forced Fletcher to perform oral sex on him, and tried to anally rape him. 

Fletcher describes how Steven used any excuse to abuse him. If he did something wrong, he was abused by Steven, but also, he says, ‘If you did something good you had to perform a sexual favour’. He adds that Steven exerted more control over the boys by writing bad reports about them to make them ‘toe the line’. 

One summer they attended a jamboree with about 100 other boys. The police were there, and were asking some of the boys questions. Steven sent Fletcher back to the home so he could not speak to them. 

However, one of the other boys did report sexual abuse by Steven. A court case followed, in which Fletcher and about five other boys gave evidence, and Steven was sent to prison. 

After this, a woman was put in charge of the home. The boys were threatened, and told never to speak again about what had happened to them.

Fletcher had been considered a bright child but following the abuse he struggled with education. By the time he was 11 years old he was desperate to escape the boys’ home, so he joined the army cadets, a boxing club and got a weekend job. This helped him cope.

When he was in his mid teens his social worker moved him to a different area. He left school and got a permanent job. He was determined to do well and his motto has always been to ‘be the best I can’. 

As a result, he has been successful in his working life, but has found personal relationships more difficult. 

He has been married and had children, but all of his marriages have ended in divorce. He thinks this is because he could not tell his wives that he had been sexually abused. 

Fletcher found it hard to show affection and says ‘I don’t think they understand why I was the way I was’. However, he has a good relationship with his children.

About 20 years ago, he saw a documentary about children fathered by black American soldiers, and this prompted him to obtain his care home records. 

Fletcher says he wanted to receive an apology from the institution but was told he would have to take them to court, and he was very upset by this response. 

He made contact with his father who by this time was very elderly. He arranged to visit him in the United States, but sadly his father died before he could meet him. However, he is in regular contact with one of his half-sisters. 

Fletcher believes that institutions need to take responsibility and apologise for the harm done to children. He would like children to be reassured that they can talk about anything that is wrong without fear, and know they will be believed. He adds that there needs to be more of an effort made to understand the impact, and dispel the stigma and shame attached to sexual abuse. 

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