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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Josie was placed in foster care after she disclosed that she was being sexually abused by two family members. 

She then suffered more abuse by the son of her foster parents. Social services refused to move her, even though she repeatedly told them what was happening.

Josie was about six years old when her step father and step uncle started abusing her. The abuse continued for several years. She remembers trying to show her unhappiness in a number of ways, but she did not have the language to talk about what was happening.

When she was a young teenager, she spoke about the abuse to a friend, who persuaded her to tell her mother. 

Josie gave a statement to the police and was examined by a doctor. The two abusers admitted their guilt. Josie remembers how traumatic the investigation was for her, and her mother suffered a nervous breakdown. She says they did not receive any follow-up support.

Social services became involved, and Josie was taken into foster care. The perpetrators had been released on bail and one of them worked near her foster home. She says this meant she missed a lot of school, because she did not want to leave the house. Eventually both men were convicted. 

Josie explains that her foster parents had four children. The oldest one, Paul, was in his mid twenties. She describes how he seemed to take an instant liking to her, going out of his way to treat her favourably.

She now realises this was grooming, but to Josie it seemed to her that he was being nice. 

When he started making sexual advances towards her, she did not know how to deal with it. By the time she was in her mid teens, he had raped her three times. She told her mother and social services became involved, but they simply told her to stop having a ‘physical relationship’ with Paul. She says she kept asking to be moved, but the social workers would not listen to her, her mother or her grandmother. 

As soon as she could, she took a job that involved living in, so she could leave the foster home. Later that year she was shocked to see her step father near her workplace. She had not been told that he had been released from prison. Distressed and panicked, she left the area.

Josie says that one effect of being abused is that she never learnt how to reject sexual advances. 

A few years ago, she made a report to the police about Paul, but later discovered that they described the abuse as ‘immoral maybe, but nothing beyond that’, even though she told them it began when she was in her mid teens and in care.

She asked for her social services records and decided to take civil action against the local authority for failing in their responsibility to protect her. She found the process highly distressing as she was subjected to a lot of personal questions about the abuse. She says she wanted someone to acknowledge and apologise for the failures against her, but the case did not succeed.

She believes that many victims and survivors who have been failed by institutions would not ‘go down the legal route’ if they received an apology. 

Josie feels that the legal system is designed to prevent rather than promote justice. She says that the police failure to investigate left her as a victim feeling that she had not had any justice for the crimes committed against her. 

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