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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Lucinda’s parents immigrated to the UK in the 1960s.

They relied on lodgers to look after their children when they were at work. Two of these people sexually abused Lucinda, and she felt guilty about the tension this caused in the family.

Lucinda explains that her parents worked long and unsociable hours to support their family. As new arrivals, they did not have a wide support group of friends or family, and they could not have afforded to pay for childcare. 

They provided lodgings to the teenage son of family friends from their old country, and when they both had to be out at work, they left Lucinda and her brother in his care.

The teenager began to come into Lucinda’s bedroom, which she shared with her brother. He would get into bed with her and sexually abuse her. Lucinda thinks he was about 14 or 15, and she was five or six years old. She says that the abuse did not involve penetration, but it was ‘very close’.

‘At the time I didn’t know what it was all about’, she says. ‘He told me not to tell anyone and I complied because I didn’t know any better.’

The abuse ended after Lucinda’s brother mentioned to their mother that the lodger was getting into bed with Lucinda. She knows he was removed from their home by social services and she remembers going to hospital with her parents and being examined, but she does not think there was any police involvement.

About six years later, Lucinda went through a similar ordeal. The abuser was another family friend who was lodging in her house. Her mother was working away from home, and when Lucinda’s father went out, he asked their guest to babysit the children. 

Lucinda now realises that this lodger groomed her, but she comments ‘I didn’t know the word at the time’. Lucinda was 12 or 13; the lodger was in his 30s. He manipulated her into doing sexual acts with him. ‘I couldn’t find a way of backing out’, she says.

When her older brother caught the lodger sexually assaulting Lucinda, he told their father. She says the police were called and ‘he was taken away’, but she doesn’t know what happened to him after that. 

She adds that the incident caused a lot of tension and arguments between her parents. ‘I remember it being a terrible time that impacted on me for some time’, she says. She became afraid of anyone staying in the house, but she felt guilty about the lodger being taken away. 

She did not receive counselling or any support after this episode of abuse.

When she was 15, a man in his 20s who lived locally began grooming Lucinda, paying attention to her and buying her presents. She believed at the time that she ‘got involved in a sexual relationship with him’ but says she can now see he was a child sexual abuser. 

The abuse ended when she left home to go to university. 

Lucinda says she has been affected ‘in different ways at different times’ by the sexual abuse she experienced. After the first episode, she had flashbacks and nightmares that continued into her adulthood. She has also had suicidal thoughts, depression and feelings of shame. 

She thinks counselling is essential for young people and their parents following child sexual abuse. She believes that if she had received counselling after the second time she was abused, she might have been better prepared and aware of the intentions of the next man who groomed her. 

Lucinda feels that it was difficult for her parents because they did not have enough money to pay for childcare, and they had no choice but to work and take a risk that their children were safe.

She thinks that lots of parents today are in the same position and will take risks for the same reason, and that they need to be really careful who they trust to look after their children. She would like to see more affordable childcare for families.

Lucinda now enjoys a settled family life but says that sometimes she thinks she can be overprotective of her children. 

She concludes, ‘My young years were traumatic if I look back on it but I have a level of resilience that got me through it … it’s taken a long time for me to talk about it but this is my way of banishing it’. 

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