Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Luke

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Luke dates the problems he has experienced in his life back to when his uncle sexually abused him.

He was very young when this began and says he would never had said anything as to him it seemed like his uncle was ‘just playing with him and being touchy’. When Luke was about seven or eight years old, his uncle began asking to see Luke’s penis and asking Luke to touch him. He remembers that his mother wanted to know why he didn’t want to go to his uncle’s house, but he could not tell her.

Some years later, after the uncle had died, Luke was at a family wedding. A group of cousins started talking and he realised the uncle had abused other relatives. He says ‘uncle died without being punished’.

In his childhood, Luke was subjected to further sexual abuse by another man. This abuser lived in his road and he would call children round to his shed on the pretext of seeing some birds. In the shed, the man would pay the children to allow him to touch them. Luke says that, at first, he and the other kids thought that ‘this was funny and would want the money’. He adds that kids ‘came from all over to get the money’ and it made him think that abuse was normal.

Luke didn’t get on with his dad. He says ‘things started to get silly’, and he ended up in a children’s home. Luke says this was a dreadful time for him; he began ‘doing things with other young kids like breaking windows and breaking into shops.’ He ran away from the home several times as there were ‘crazy things going off’. 

After this, Luke was sent to an assessment centre, where he says ‘things took a further turn for the worse’. He describes how young people suffered severe punishment and beatings with a bat from a teacher. Luke recalls sitting with his legs shaking awaiting another beating.

Other staff in the centre were abusive to the children. He says that sometimes staff would pour liquid on young people who had newly arrived, telling them it was petrol and threatening to light it.

Luke and other children were made to sit for hours in the waiting room on visiting days, even if they did not have visitors. They could hear staff and their family members having fun in the garden.

He remembers staff getting drunk at night time and taking boys out of their beds. The boys would then come back sobbing. He says this did not happen to him, but he describes an occasion when he was taken into an office and told by a staff member to drop his pants. He refused and was beaten. Another was boy taken in the room and Luke could hear him crying. He says the boy ran away after that and he never saw him again.

Luke says that along with the abuse that was happening to so many children at the centre, many of the ‘lads’ in the home had been abused at some point, many by family. He believes that abuse was ‘rife’ in all these places and that was why young people kept running away, only to be beaten on return.

At one stage during his childhood, Luke remembers that he was sent to a local authority specialist school. He says the education here was ‘wonderful’ but the funding was withdrawn and he had to leave. He feels that this may have changed the direction of his life, believing that if he had been able to stay in this school that he could have gone to university. Instead he ended up misbehaving and went to young offenders’ institutions and then prison.

Luke feels that the staff in the assessment centre were ‘getting paid to abuse and take advantage of their positions and must now stand up and account for what they have done’.

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