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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Freddie’s abuser was a teacher whose power and influence extended into the church, a business and a sports team in the local area. He feels this network of control made it easier for the man to abuse many young people.

After his parents divorced, Freddie did not see his mum for a long time and his dad worked long hours to provide for him and his siblings. The church was a big influence on the family and Freddie attended a faith school. 

A teacher named Pat, who had taught there for many years, was known as a bully who would throw classroom equipment at the children. He was also a sports coach who had close links to a local priest. At sports practice, Pat compared Freddie unfavourably with his relatives who were better at the game. 

Freddie now knows he has a specific learning difficulty but was not diagnosed at that time. Pat made him read aloud on a one-to-one basis at his angled desk. Out of view of anyone entering the classroom, Pat would touch Freddie on his penis and backside while he was reading. This became more frequent as months went on. Pat could get tickets to local sports matches and continued the sexual abuse when he took Freddie to matches. 

Freddie did not tell his father as he was still working long hours and trying to bring up his children. He did tell a girl in his class about the sexual abuse, and social services visited, but he said he was scared to speak out as he felt Pat had such control over his family. 

At the time Freddie thought he was the only victim but has since found out there were many more, male and female. Pat was arrested in the late 1980s following someone else’s disclosure.

Freddie remembers social services visiting and later being interviewed at his relative’s house. But he was not asked to give evidence at the trial, where Pat was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. 

Freddie says the sexual abuse has affected him for over 30 years and he has only recently started talking about it. Freddie says he still struggles with authority and does not like his penis being touched in intimate moments. He has been taking antidepressants and has had counselling.

His key message is that he would like tighter checks on faith schools and their responsibilities made clearer. He feels the local priest almost certainly knew what was going on and if it had not been a faith school the abuse would have been discovered sooner.

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