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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Millie grew up in a troubled family. She was sexually abused by two male family members. One was convicted but the police did not act on her report about the second abuser.

Millie knows that services were involved with her family before she was born. She believes that she and one of her older brothers were conceived after her mother was raped. Her mother was an alcoholic and had mental health difficulties. 

When she was very young, an uncle who had been homeless came to live with the family. He used to put her to bed at night, and she remembers that she saw this as ‘special uncle time’. 

However, her uncle began to sexually abuse her. After one occasion when he hurt her and made her bleed, she told her mother. The uncle was convicted for sexual offences against Millie and other children and was sent to prison. 

But Millie continued to suffer sexual abuse by one of her older brothers, including assault and rape. Sometimes he abused her in front of another sibling.

She remembers that she told a social worker what was happening. She recently gained access to her care file, and learnt that when the police interviewed her about the abuse by her uncle, she told them ‘my brother does it too’. It does not seem that anyone acted on this information. 

Her brother stayed in the family home for several more years until he was taken into care. But he came back at weekends, and continued to sexually abuse her. She says ‘every Friday night I knew what was going to happen’. The protection plan initiated by social services was a system to alert her mother when her brother entered her room. She is angry at this response, questioning how could this have protected her, when her mother used to be unresponsive due to alcohol. 

She describes the impact the sexual abuse had on her. She often feels ‘low’, experiences flashbacks and has feelings of panic. She feels angry that she was failed by the police and social services and she no longer trusts them. She believes that professionals should be held accountable when they fail in their duty. 

Millie feels strongly that children should be listened to, and if they report sexual abuse they should be removed to a safe place while their account is investigated. She says that in these circumstances, it is very important to talk to children so they do not feel they are to blame for the abuse or the impact on the family. 

She adds that continuing support is vital or the emotional trauma will continue for the abused child.

She has tried going to counselling but found it difficult to connect with this. She says ‘Some days I don’t want to get up and want to be left alone. I have people around me that are very supportive but day to day it’s difficult’. 

However, she considers herself to be a strong character. She went to university and has established a successful career supporting young people with difficulties. 

She says ‘Abuse hasn’t stopped me doing things. My mother was abused ... it ruined her life ... I don’t want that from life.’

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