Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Growing up in an extreme and highly controlling religious community, Jamie had no one to turn to about the abuse he suffered.

Jamie describes the culture of the community as very closed. All issues were expected to be dealt with within the community, which provided its own services including healthcare services, education and religious courts.

He adds that while it was unlikely it would have been enforced, it was said that the act of going outside the community, such as approaching the police before using internal processes, was punishable by death.

The children in the community were not allowed access to external media such as television, radio or the internet. They only knew what they were taught at the schools and by their families. Child protection was almost non-existent, and children did not know where to go for help outside the community.

It was within these strict confines that Jamie was abused for several months by Andrew, who worked at the youth club he attended. Jamie was in his early teens at  the time and did not tell his parents or anyone else.

Jamie says that a few years ago he decided to report the abuse to a community leader. He was told that as he was the only witness, there was nothing they could. 

By chance, Jamie later met someone who had witnessed Andrew abusing someone else, but the community leader declared this was still not enough.

At this point that Jamie decided that although the community claimed it would be possible to go to the police, there were too many barriers preventing this. He decided to go outside the community rules and reported the abuse to the police himself.

Andrew was arrested and admitted the offences, but at this point, Jamie was subjected to a campaign of intimidation from members of the community.

The police were informed but said that as the individuals kept just on the right side of the law, there was nothing that could be done. Jamie told the police that he was not prepared to go to court and the case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Jamie feels that very few people come forward to report abuse in his religious community.

When they do, most withdraw due to pressure and intimidation from that community. He would like the Inquiry to consider how to ‘break into’ such communities to give members a voice.


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