Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Katie

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Katie was taken into care at a young age but is not sure exactly why. She says she felt well‑loved by her family but remembers her mother forgetting to pick her up from school a couple of times, having been drinking.

Katie describes the next six years of her life in children’s homes as ‘hell on earth’. She was subjected to sexual abuse, violent assault, emotional abuse and neglect. On one occasion she believes she nearly died – she had a serious illness, but care staff did not believe she was ill and would not seek medical help.

She recalls being strip searched, having her underwear removed and a male member of staff coming into the shower with her, claiming it was to wash her back. She fought back and as he chased her she fell, causing a scar on her body. In another children’s home Katie says she fought back against an abusive member of staff and as a consequence she received a juvenile conviction. She says: ‘The judge said I was a violent out-of-control child, whose parents didn’t even want her. That was not true … I was trying to defend myself.’

Katie describes one children’s home: ‘It was like a whore house, we were encouraged to dress skimpily.’ She says she was controlled by two men and was put on the contraceptive pill at a young age.

She regularly ran away to escape the sexual abuse, only to be returned, but was never asked why she had run away. She says: ‘I was running away, trying not to get raped. I had a single room; the night staff would come in and I would scream and shout.’ She recalls some of the other children tried to protect her.

Katie had no trust in the police. On one occasion, when she had run away, she says she was put in a dog kennel by police officers. She adds: ‘One police officer said if I didn’t shut up I would end up in the Thames like X [another missing child in care].’

To stop her trying to run to her parents’ home, Katie was moved to a children’s home many miles away and had no contact with her family. The cruel and abusive conditions continued until her father died, when Katie’s mother collected her from care and she did not return. 

Katie is aware that some of the people who sexually abused her have been investigated for other child abuse offences, one receiving a 20-year sentence.

Looking back, Katie identifies many people she knew in care who have died due to suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, or have gone missing, and she believes this is a direct consequence of the abuse they suffered.  

She asks how the local police could not have questioned the number of children repeatedly running away. She says that 90% of what police say is believed and she does not think that the police have changed since she was young. Katie says that inaccurate labels about her in her care file, such as ‘promiscuous’, stigmatised her and identified her as vulnerable, so everyone ‘tried it on with me’.

She says the sexual abuse she suffered pushed her into self-destruct mode, abusing alcohol and drugs for a couple of years. She expresses how much she hates ‘lying and bullshit’, has no respect for the police and has a quick temper on occasions.

Katie has never had counselling and feels she has not dealt with what happened to her. She describes herself as a solitary person, saying: ‘I work long hours … I don’t give myself time to think … I exist, I don’t live.’

Katie is still considering how to take forward the abusive experiences she had in childhood; she is angry about what happened to her and that she was not protected.

She says: ‘I want a “sorry” and for someone to take responsibility. I don’t do good “victim” … I want to unburden myself.'

For the future, Katie says that records should be accurate and transparent and there should be recognition that labels follow you around and alter perceptions of you. She has applied for her care records many times but has been ignored. Because she works she cannot access legal funding to take this further, and she feels this is not right and should be changed. 

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.