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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.

Gene

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

One of the many painful memories that Gene lives with is not feeling any affection from his mother, and the fact that she constantly went out.

This damaged him emotionally, and resulted in him being sexually abused by two of the people he was left with.

Gene’s parents split up when he was a small boy. His mother had a succession of boyfriends and he and his siblings were neglected. 

After one of her boyfriends committed a serious crime, the children were taken into care and sent to a children’s home. Gene was about seven or eight years old. 

In the home, they were subjected to physical and psychological abuse. He remembers being made to sit at a table for hours because he could not bring himself to eat the unappetising food. After about 18 months, the siblings were returned to their mother. Around that time, their real father died.

Gene says his mother used to go out very often, leaving her sons with a variety of babysitters. 

One of the babysitters sexually abused Gene many times, over about two years. Gene was between the ages of eight and 11 years when this occurred, and his younger sibling later told him that they were also abused by the same person. 

During this time, two police officers came to Gene’s home and questioned him about the babysitter, as other allegations had been made against him. Gene recalls that the police ‘interrogated’ him with very graphic questions about sexual assault, which made him feel embarrassed and anxious in front of his mother. 

He was so upset after this ordeal that he locked himself in the bathroom. His mother broke the door down and hugged him. This memory makes Gene very sad – he says it is the only time he can remember his mother hugging him throughout his whole childhood. 

It was clear that the babysitter was not prosecuted following the police interview, as the abuse continued. Gene was not offered any support by his mother, the police or any other professional.

Gene suffered further sexual abuse by a friend of his mother’s, Mr A, who had a caravan. When the family were staying there, his mother took his siblings to the park, leaving Gene behind with Mr A. Gene says some other men came the caravan, and that he was sexually abused by all of them.

He remembers several more incidents involving the same abusers, which happened when he was between nine and 11 years old, but he prefers not to talk about the details. He comments ‘It makes me angry that paedophiles think children enjoy it’.

The abuse has had a major effect on his education, career, relationships and wellbeing. At school he says he was ‘very quiet and reclusive’. He has experienced many episodes of anger and rage and feels he has a very rebellious personality. He joined the armed forces and on one occasion at work, he assaulted a superior. He has spent time in a military prison. In the past, he has self-harmed and attempted suicide and been admitted to a psychiatric ward.

Gene says he has ‘calmed down with age’ but admits that he still has moments of rage and recently got into a fight. He says ‘You still have a flash in your head ... when confronted by bullying, you do something’.

He struggles with intimacy and trust, and has broken off contact with many family members. But, he adds, ‘With friends, it’s different’. He has a wide group of friends, and he attributes his resilience to having supportive people in his life. He is very protective of children and is close to his nephew.

Gene is concerned to help others, and he completed a counselling course. He tells a poignant story about an exercise where the students were asked to relate a happy memory from their childhood. This upset him, because he realised that he couldn’t think of one – ‘not even one birthday party’.

He believes that poverty and austerity make people vulnerable, and he would like to see more done to identify and support vulnerable children and families. He would also like to see tighter checks on informal babysitting arrangements, and more focus on the dangers of online abuse.

Gene has not self-harmed nor had to see a doctor since leaving the military. He now keeps himself fit, take his work seriously and feels he is very good at it. 

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There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.