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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Isaiah was born during the Second World War. He describes his father as ‘a horrible man’ who was cruel to his mother, and evicted her and her four children from the house.

When he was six years old, Isaiah was placed in a Barnado’s home. He endured a harsh regime and sexual abuse by a matron.

Although he suffered abuse in the children’s home, he believes that his life would have been worse living with his parents, and he says he is grateful to Barnado’s for that. 

In the children’s home, Isaiah lived in a cottage with nine other boys, run by a matron who everyone feared. He says ‘She was evil’.

During the four years he lived there, Isaiah says ‘there was no love or caring’. The matron would punish the boys for any wrongdoing, and they would be dragged into the bath and made to get into cold water. Isaiah used to wet the bed; he would try to disguise it, but the matron always found him out.

When she physically beat him, she fondled him. It happened on many occasions and Isaiah believes she particularly targeted him. She gave him money for sweets and took him on outings with her own child. He was the only boy to be treated like this, and he realises now that he was being groomed. 

Isaiah says his sister and older brother were also badly affected by abuse in the children’s home. He hardly saw his sister because she was in another cottage and went to a different school. 

The abuse stopped for Isaiah when a relief matron questioned bruising on his body. He told her he had been ‘slippered’ the night before. The matron never assaulted him again.

He says that when he was returned home to his mum, despite the abuse he suffered at the children’s home, he did not want to go back to her. 

Several years ago, Isaiah attended a reunion at a Barnardo's home. He spoke to a staff member about his experiences, but the person simply responded that nothing could be done as the matron had probably died by then. He made another attempt to report the abuse to the charity, but nothing came of it.

Isaiah says that his experiences of abuse have affected his confidence, self-esteem and his relationship with his wife and children, who are now grown up. He knows that certain things still make him very angry. He has had some counselling and group therapy. 

He thinks it is important that more than one person should be in charge of children, and that there should be effective checks and monitoring. He remembers that ‘no one from outside’ came into the children’s home.  

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