Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Status message

Due to the current situation caused by coronavirus (Covid-19) we have made some changes to Truth Project sessions in person. You can still share your experience with the Truth Project over the phone, in writing, and now through a video call.


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Lee transitioned to male as an adult. He was sexually abused as a young teenage girl. Lee describes his former self as a vulnerable child, who was bullied in school, and had no friends.

He was unhappy at home and says he felt he had no adult advocates. He found comfort in reading and at school he was placed on both the gifted and talented track and the learning difficulties track. He began self-harming by cutting around the age of 11 years but hid this from his parents.

Lee joined the Scouts as he wanted to enjoy the activities they offered and did not want to identify with the gender stereotypical activities at the Girl Guides. The Scout leader, Bernard, gave Lee special attention and privileges.

On reflection, Lee feels that due to the unhappiness he experienced within his family, Bernard’s interest in him made him feel important. He feels he related better to adults than his peers, but did not think that an adult would exploit this to abuse him.

Bernard would collect Lee from school in his car and take him to different locations to sexually abuse him. Lee says the abuse had a significant impact on his wellbeing. He was seriously underweight and had been persistently self-harming.

He describes ‘holding it together’ while the abuse was taking place but when it stopped, he took an overdose. After he ran away and tried to commit suicide, Lee was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and placed in long term psychiatric care. 

He had intermittent placements in foster care as part of the care plan, but says these were not successful as he attempted suicide more times than he can count throughout his adolescence.

Lee recalls the lack of understanding and support provided to him during this period of his life. He describes himself as ‘self-reliant’ and believes this is how he survived.  

He recounts that a charge nurse took a dislike to him and feels she branded him as manipulative rather than recognising that he was afraid. This nurse pressurised Lee into talking with the police about the sexual abuse but he feels that her input had a negative effect on the investigation.

The Crown Prosecution Service did not proceed with a prosecution, and he questions if this was due to his mental health history. He wonders whether it would have been in his best interests due to his mental health fragility, but the impact of the case not progressing to court has been severe. 

He is fearful that Bernard may come after him and has reported that he recently received an email from Bernard’s wife stating that the allegations he made were false and had ruined their family.

Lee says the abuse has affected not only his mental health but his ability to trust people and this was compounded by the treatment he received by healthcare staff. Lee was able to progress at university, but he attempted suicide a number of times during his first two years.

Lee is worried that Bernard may still working with young people. He feels failed that no other adults in the Scouts considered whether he was being abused by Bernard, given how much time and attention he gave him.

He also feels failed by NHS staff and their lack of understanding and support at the point of disclosure and investigation and post-abuse. 

He recommends that children and young people are assigned an independent advocate when they suffer trauma, particularly if this involves a police investigation. He feels this would improve the clarity and quality of evidence and support the mental health of victims and survivors.

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