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Experiences Shared

Gabriel

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Gabriel and his sibling were sexually abused by their father. 

His father was given a character reference by his church and Gabriel thinks this helped ensure he received a very short sentence. 

Gabriel explains that his parents both worked in a children’s home and the family lived on site. 

His father beat him every day, and frequently sexually abused him, until he was in his early teens. His father also regularly raped Gabriel’s sibling. He believes his mother knew what was happening, but was ‘in denial’.

He remembers going to hospital twice with damage to his rectum and signs of a sexually transmitted infection, but no action was taken, although he has since discovered that he and his sibling were on the social services’ at-risk register.

After Gabriel’s father ran away with a girl who was under 18, the family were asked to leave the children’s home, but his father was not charged. He was a lay preacher, and his church found him a new job supervising a Sunday school. Gabriel says the church knew what his father had done with the teenage girl.

Gabriel and his sibling left home as soon as they could. By this time his father had a sales job that gave him access to schools. The children were very concerned about this. They were both struggling with the impact of being abused, but after some time, they reported their father to the police.

The investigation and court case caused Gabriel and his sibling a good deal of anxiety. Their father pleaded guilty but Gabriel was very disappointed that he received a short sentence. He thinks that a character reference given by the church contributed to the lenient outcome.

Gabriel feels that by contrast, he has lost a great deal. He began drinking heavily, lost his job and his home, and his relationship broke down. He struggles with anger and addictions, has committed petty crimes and has a criminal record.

In recent years, more victims and survivors who were abused by his father in the children’s home came forward. There was a trial and this time his father received a long sentence, but the police never contacted Gabriel or his sibling to tell them about this – they heard about it in the news. 

Gabriel says this caused a further downward spiral for him – he attempted sucide and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital. He has not had any therapy or support – he says there is a long waiting list. 

Gabriel feels he and his sibling were let down by social services because they were on the at-risk register but were not protected. He also feels let down by the justice system that gave his father such a light first sentence. 

When he got into trouble with the law, Gabriel says, his history was not taken into account, and he feels this is unfair.

He feels that if he had received earlier support it might have stopped him drinking and taking drugs, and helped him keep his life on track. He says victims and survivors desperately need support but waiting lists are far too long.

Gabriel emphasises how important it is for the police to communicate with victims and survivors; they should have told him and his sibling that his father was being put on trial again. 

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