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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Maya describes a difficult family life, with a violent father and a sexually abusive stepfather.

This left her vulnerable to abuse by others. Her awareness of sexual abuse makes her fearful for the safety of her children.

Maya can’t remember exactly how old she was when the abuse began but she knows she was still at primary school. Her stepfather would buy her presents in the expectation of ‘something in return’. Maya says she worried about her younger sister but hopes she was spared the same abuse.

She was subsequently groomed by a neighbour and became pregnant by him when she was in her mid teens. When she had an abortion no one asked any questions.

Because of her troubled home life, Maya was living by herself before she even left school. The neighbour was still in her life and one day he attacked her in her flat and held a knife to her throat. Maya reported the assault to the police.

In court the neighbour lied about what had happened and received a suspended sentence. Maya told the police that he had been having sex with her since she was in her mid teens and had made her pregnant, but no action was taken.

Determined to make something of her life she went back to school. The headmaster was very supportive but another teacher started a relationship with her.

Maya says she felt let down by the system. The sexual abuse has affected her life – she has never trusted men and she struggled to have normal relationships while she was growing up. She experienced panic attacks every day but did not receive any support or counselling.

When she started her own family, Maya worried that her own experiences would mean she was always looking for signs of potential abuse and wouldn’t be able to trust anyone.

She became concerned about her childminder’s husband and decided to change to another childminder. The new childminder mentioned her youngest son had been bleeding when he went to the toilet. Worried he might have been abused, Maya took him to the hospital and went to social services. However they responded that Maya shouldn’t make allegations without evidence to back them up.

Maya says she had wanted to tell her mother about the sexual abuse she suffered, but couldn’t find the right language. She spoke to her stepfather about it many years later and all he could say was that he had never hurt her. She says it was clear he didn’t understand the damage he had caused.

Maya believes that where abuse is by a family member, victims don't want to report as they are worried about the impact on the family unit.


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