Skip to main content Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Julianna had a difficult early childhood. He struggled with learning difficulties and hyperactivity. As a very young boy he was taken to see a doctor regarding an eating disorder and behavioural problems.

Julianna loved his mother and felt very close to her, but his parents had difficulty dealing with him. When he was eight years old they offered him the chance to go to boarding school and he readily agreed.

The school catered for children with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties. A culture of fear and violence prevailed and bullying was rife between boys. Children were also regularly humiliated, sexually abused and bullied by staff, including the head and deputy head. There were harsh punishments for ‘transgressions’ such as not finishing meals or not excelling in sport.

Soon after he arrived, Julianna  was raped by a boy who was about three years older than him.

After he was raped, Julianna began engaging in sexual activity with several other boys at the school. He subsequently suffered with a sexual addiction over many years, engaging in risky sexual behaviour in a search for the love and affection he felt was missing from his life.  

As a boy, Julianna ‘lived in fear’ and was traumatised by the emotional, physical and sexual abuse he suffered. This trauma had consequences on his life that affected him profoundly into his adult years.

He had several inappropriate relationships with older men when he was young and was unable to manage a healthy intimate relationship for many years.

The trauma caused by the abuse affected his ability to work and settle, and he had periods of homelessness.

Julianna was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, has attempted suicide several times and often has suicidal thoughts.

She explains that when she was 36, she transitioned to become female.

In an effort to cope with her trauma, she has engaged with many forms of therapeutic support and has found some comfort in her faith. She has occasionally used self-harm as a coping method.

In recent years, Julianna  joined other victims and survivors in criminal and civil action regarding abuse by staff at the school. This resulted in some convictions and compensation awards.

She advocates that there should be increased funding and support for victims and survivors, and also people struggling with addiction. She would like to see more specialist therapy for gender and sexuality issues, including gender transition, and improved education on the subject.

Julianna  concludes that she has been on a difficult and painful journey, but she feels much more comfortable as a woman, and is relieved to ‘leave behind the raped boy’.

Note - Julianna  is female, but was born male. Male pronouns are used in relation to the sexual abuse she endured as a child, because she was male at that time.

Your privacy

There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.