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Experiences Shared

Michael

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Michael says that when he heard about the Truth Project it reminded him of Archbishop Desmond Tutu encouraging the public hearings of human rights abuses in post-apartheid Africa.

He believes it is invaluable for people to be able to speak out about the past, and he thinks it would be wrong of him, as a victim and survivor of sexual abuse, not to share his experience. He hopes he can better inform people and help protect children in the future.

As a young boy, Michael attended a small boarding school, where he stayed until he finished his secondary education. The younger boys had their own boarding houses and Michael was placed in one where a teacher called Charles was the resident housemaster.

The first half term was uneventful. School days were regimented apart from a few hours on a Sunday for letter writing, followed by some free time.

One day, Michael needed to telephone his parents about his train trip home for the next school holiday, which meant going to Charles’ room. Michael got through to his parents but as he was talking to them, Charles put his hands up Michael’s shorts and started ‘messing about’ with his genitalia. Michael didn’t know the facts of life at that point and wasn’t sure what was happening.

The following term, Charles began taking boys into his room in the evenings for tuition. This happened to Michael every week or so, and the same routine occurred every time after he opened his exercise book. Charles would either unzip Michael’s shorts or put his hand inside them.

By this time, Michael had had a science lesson about the facts of life and he discovered that he was not the only one being sexually abused by Charles. There were a few boys who had more tuition than others.

Towards the end of the spring term some of the boys began talking to each other about what was going on. Michael shied away from the conversations; he says he knew what was occurring was wrong but didn’t know what would happen if the boys did anything about it.

Michael went home for the Easter holidays. Then one day during the summer term, Charles summoned Michael to his room. Charles pulled Michael’s trousers down, opened his own flies and pushed Michael down to perform oral sex on him.

Michael has never forgotten this but has never told anyone about it before now. The sexual abuse continued until one day Michael was called to see the headmaster who asked what had happened between him and Charles.

Michael later found out that after further sexual abuse by Charles, some of the other victims had told the school captain who reported it to the headmaster. When questioned by the headmaster, Michael could only sob.

The headmaster didn’t tell Michael that any action would follow; the school did not tell his parents and nor did Michael.

Charles was left in post until the end of the summer term but in the next school year he lived off campus, although he still taught there for another year.

About 12 months after Charles left the school, Michael was at home when his mother said: ‘You will never guess who has been on the phone – your old teacher Charles – he is coming to see us tomorrow afternoon.’

Michael’s abuser arrived at the house smiling, asking Michael how he was doing at school and engaging his parents in conversation.

Michael states that if he is bitter about anything, it is this breach of his parents’ trust. He believes Charles was trying to invade his family circle to gain access to his siblings.

Charles stayed friends with Michael’s parents until he died. Michael believes this was a demonstration of his power, and he would always refuse to see Charles when he visited.

Michael has never told his parents. He says it would make them feel bad and nothing would be gained. He says he had a ‘fantastic time’ at the school and feels the school was the making of him.

He has never wanted to go to the police about what happened as he doesn’t want to harm the school and has no interest in making any sort of claim. He says he has dealt with what happened there. However, he thinks that the school should have told his parents about the sexual abuse. 

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