Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Jack

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Placed in care due to a family break-up, Jack’s vulnerability was exploited by a worker in the care system. Years later a gesture of kindness from a teacher was a turning point in his chaotic life that helped him reassess his view of the world.

Jack tried to report his abuser, but his experience was frustrating and unsatisfactory.

Jack’s mother left home when he was young. Despite his father’s best efforts, Jack and his siblings were placed in care when he was about ten years old.

He was initially placed in an assessment centre on his own. His social worker raised his expectations that he would soon go to a foster family, but when this didn’t happen he says he concluded: ‘I didn’t seem to fit anywhere.’

At the centre, Jack slept in a dormitory with other boys. One night shortly after his arrival he was awoken by a night carer, Lee, who sat on his bed and chatted to him. The carer then progressed to fondling Jack and coerced Jack to touch him. From then on, Lee did this several times a week. Once Jack heard Lee talking to another boy in the dormitory and realised that he was sexually abusing others.

Jack describes how much he hated what was happening to him and how powerless he was to stop it. He had no trust in his social worker who he felt had lied to him. He had no contact with any of his family; he felt alone and trapped.

The sexual abuse continued until Jack was moved to a children’s home. Even after leaving the assessment centre he felt unable to talk about what had happened to him. He says he had grown to accept no one was looking out for him and he had to take care of himself: ‘You are not going to tell anyone anything that makes you vulnerable.’

By the time Jack had reached his mid-teens, he says: ‘I hated everyone, nobody cared and I was abusing solvents and truanting. … I was screaming out for help and attention.’

On one occasion when he was truanting from school he was found by a teacher who, rather than taking him to the headteacher, took his hand and walked him to his classroom.

This simple kindness was a pivotal moment for Jack, who describes how it made him realise that some people did care and led him to reassess the world. He took an apprenticeship and went on to get married and have a family.

It was not until his mid-30s that Jack spoke about the sexual abuse he had suffered as a child. Memories of his experiences in care were triggered during a discussion with one of his siblings about their childhood and he phoned the police to report Lee’s actions.

Shortly afterwards he received a letter from the police stating that his abuser had already stood trial for similar offences and had received a custodial sentence. The letter continued that no further action would be taken regarding the offences that Jack had reported as it was not considered to be in the public interest.

Jack did not tell anyone else about the abuse until he spoke with the Truth Project. Jack wants the Disclosure and Barring Service to be more thorough and consistent and the police to investigate all allegations of child sexual abuse and not dismiss them on the basis that they are not in the public interest.

He thinks it is important to ensure that children have someone in their lives to whom they can become emotionally attached. He suggests that children in care should have access to an independent person, possibly by phone, whom they can trust and confide in.

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