Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

June describes her family as authoritarian, with children expected to do as adults said. When she was sexually abused by a relative, she was not believed.

The abuse established a pattern of suffering, chaos and further abuse in her life that continues to affect her.

June lived with her father and mother, who had mental health difficulties, and her sister. One night, when she was in her early teens, a relative who had fallen out with his wife went out drinking with her parents. 

On returning from the pub, June’s parents went to bed, leaving the relative downstairs with June and her sister. June heard the relative tell her sister he wanted a kiss, but she rebuffed him, commenting that it was incest, and went to bed. June did not know what incest meant.

June was doing homework and her relative began to help her. He moved closer to June, then she says ‘he jumped on me’, sexually assaulting her. She told him to get off her, ran upstairs and hid under the covers on her bed.

He followed and sat on her bed. She remembers feeling frightened and trapped. She does not know how long he was in her room, but he was not there when she awoke.

June recalls being so frightened of seeing him the next morning she asked her sister to unlock the back door, so she could leave for school without passing him. She told a friend what had happened to her and together they told a teacher.

The head teacher contacted June’s father and asked if he wanted the police involved. Her father declined, saying that June was lying.

When the relative visited the family home again, June says she felt petrified as he gave her a present and some money saying, ‘I’m sorry, I was drunk’.

From this point, June says she became ‘delinquent’, truanting school. She began to babysit for another set of relatives. June said that the male relative would not leave her alone. She tried to make sure she was never alone with him, but said that this was difficult: ‘I wanted to ask, who is going to keep me safe?’. 

He raped her on many occasions, telling her that she would be blamed for ending his marriage if she spoke up. June reflects, ‘I was so frightened, no one helped me, no one cared. I was just alone’.

She found a job as a nanny, but was soon sacked, with her employer accusing her of flirting with her husband. June reflects that she did not realise at the time what she was doing, and believes it resulted from being sexualised from a young age. Her father beat her up, causing injuries that required hospital treatment, but he remained present, so she could not explain what had happened to her.

June then ran away from home and by her late teens, was mixing with drug users and thieves. She describes how she began to behave like the people she mixed with, and says she was promiscuous.

She became pregnant and she describes how she was ‘bullied’ into her child being  taken into care. She was suffering from postnatal depression along with the trauma following the sexual abuse.

She continued living cycle of promiscuity and sofa-surfing. She spoke of feeling numb and that life was ‘so hard’. She adds, ‘No one ever came to rescue me. I never felt safe.’

A couple of years later June was raped again and conceived a second child, who was also removed from her.

June says she has disclosed her abuse to several professionals, including her social worker and the police, but has always felt dismissed.

She feels great distress and anger. She wants her parents to take responsibility for failing to protect her and to tell her that it was not her fault.

She would like the local authority to admit they failed her and to acknowledge the devastating effect this has had on her life.

She feels let down that the school did not take any action apart from informing her father, and that she was not offered any help or the opportunity to speak to the police.

June says that professionals should not just accept a parent’s view that the child is lying and that they should own up to mistakes, not blame the victim and survivor. She says professionals should recognise that victims and survivors are often angry, but their anger is due to what has happened to them.

She also believes that professionals working with children should be more proactive and make an approach if they notice changes in behaviour.

In cases where there is no prosecution she would like the state or someone to facilitate an opportunity for the victim and survivor to confront their abuser. However, she says young people need to be clearly informed about the potential consequences of disclosing their abuse.

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