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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Kieran has early memories of a good family life, but after the death of his father he endured abuse and violence.

A few years after Kieran’s father died, his mother met a new partner who moved into the family home with his two sons, Lewis and Carl. They were in their late teens and had been in trouble with the authorities.

Kieran shared a room with Carl and the older boy began to sexually abuse, and then rape him. Kieran was also raped by Lewis.

The abuse began when Kieran was about 10 years old and continued for nearly a year. Kieran believes his sister was also abused by Lewis or Carl. Their mother saw one of the brothers coming out of her daughter’s bedroom one day, but rather than challenging him, she called her daughter a ‘dirty little bitch’.

Kieran’s mother and her partner were drinking a lot and being violent towards the children. He became disruptive at school and, although he saw a school psychologist, no one asked him why he was misbehaving.

After a time, he was expelled and was sent to another school. At first, he felt happier, but things deteriorated for him. He had no social worker or outside support, and no one questioned why he was behaving badly.

Kieran wanted to go into the navy, but he did not achieve the qualifications he needed. He recognises that he missed a lot of school due to behavioural issues caused by his abuse, and this affected his education badly.

He was finally accepted into the armed forces, but he did not like his placement and left after a short time. Unable to find a job, he drifted into petty crime, which led to him being sent to a detention centre.

He describes this as a short, sharp shock which helped to turn his life around. He eventually got a good job working in a shop.

Kieran met his future wife a few years later and they started their own business. At the time he was still suffering from anger issues and smoking a lot of cannabis. When he read about cases of sexual abuse in the press, he decided to report what had happened to him.

He contacted the local police who said they would pass on his report to the police force where he grew up. When he didn’t hear anything from them, he spent a lot of time chasing them for responses and was angry at what he felt was their dismissive attitude. He eventually got a call to say that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to take any further action with his case.

Kieran says he was very disappointed but felt determined to carry on with life. However, the stress was causing problems in his marriage and he was still using cannabis very heavily to cope.

He wanted to stop using drugs and decided to pay for his own therapy. He opened up to his counsellor about the sexual abuse he had suffered as a boy.

On holiday, he met a campaigning journalist who convinced him that police responses had improved and that he should try and report the abuse again. Disappointingly, his experience did not convince him that the way the police dealt with victims of sexual abuse had changed that much in the years since he’d first tried to report it.

He complained a number of times to the police. Allocated officers would leave the force and Kieran would have to start building a relationship with a new officer. When Kieran threatened to withdraw his allegations, his officer replied that with 20 other cases ‘on the go’, one fewer would actually make his life easier.

Kieran continued to push, and eventually his case went to trial. Carl was found guilty of all charges, but Lewis had died. The stepfather was also charged with abusing Kieran’s sister, but the hearing resulted in a hung jury and he died before the retrial.

Although Kieran says he has had some resolution, he feels that without his perseverance this would not have been achieved and he wants things improved for other victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

Kieran believes that police forces should improve their training concerning non-recent sexual abuse cases and follow the guidelines that are already in place. He says that it was very hard for him to get beyond the ‘front desk’ at the police station and to access the expertise he eventually found. He feels strongly that it is vital to have a single point of contact and regular updates for victims and survivors.

Finally, Kieran would like teachers and others charged with the care of children to make the time and patience to try and get to the root cause of bad behaviour. Early identification and prevention of child abuse, he says, would prevent so much damage.

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