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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

George says his family life was ‘not great’. In his mid-teens he left home and joined the navy hoping to find a better existence.

He was drafted on board a ship where there was an officer in the same sleeping quarters called Denis. Denis presented himself as a friend to the young sailor, but George now feels that the officer groomed him.

Denis abused George sexually when they were on tour. This was a regular occurrence and one of other young people on board told George they were glad that he was now Denis’ target, as that meant that he would leave them alone.

George says he did not feel he could complain about the sexual abuse while he was on board the ship. He believed the response from the navy would have been that he had ‘led Denis on’. But the abuse caused him to have problems at work which affected his mental health. 

When he returned from the tour he went to see a navy doctor, who was not sympathetic. The doctor recommended George for discharge, and this added to his mental health difficulty.

Although the navy had a mental health facility, George was not sent for treatment but was discharged and left to fend for himself. He says the navy put him ‘out on the street’.

George now feels angry that the navy did offer him any help or show him any duty of care. He believes that sexual abuse must have been widespread, and that other people would have been subjected to the ordeal that he suffered and still are today.

He says he sees material about bullying and racism on the navy website, but nothing about sexual abuse. 

It has taken George a long time to realise how he has been affected by what happened to him in the navy, he says. He decided to share his story in the hope that others who have experienced similar abuse will be able to come forward.

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