Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Nicholas

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Nicholas was beaten and sexually abused by a sadistic teacher at a religious school.

When he told another teacher about the physical beating he suffered, he was told he must have deserved it.

He adds that in the 1950s and 60s it was the norm for boys ‘who misbehaved’ to get beaten. He did not tell his parents about the sexual abuse he was subjected to, as he felt ashamed.

Nicholas grew up in an observant Christian family. During his early school years, he was taught by nuns, whom he found ‘kind and considerate’. During the later years, the classes were single sex and large, taught by lay staff.

He recounts there was a heavy emphasis on religious education and a lot of corporal punishment. One of his teachers, Mr Hunter, would begin the day with religious education and would ask the boys questions. They were expected to stand and provide a perfect answer. If they failed, they were beaten with a wooden stick.

Nicholas describes how one day he failed to answer a question correctly and was beaten along with others who had also fallen short of the requirements. The next time this happened, Mr Hunter punished the other boys but forgot to beat Nicholas. One of his classmates told Nicholas that if he didn’t admit to Mr Hunter that he had not had his beating, the boys would tell him. 

Nicholas went to see Mr Hunter. The teacher took him into the classroom, told him to undress and touched him sexually, before beating him. Afterwards Nicholas said he went downstairs and was crying as the beating had ‘hurt like hell’. A member of staff asked him why he was crying but showed no concern or sympathy when he told her about the beating.

Looking back, Nicholas believes that by not telling his parents about the abuse, Mr Hunter ‘saw this as his green light to do whatever he liked to me’. He describes how Mr Hunter began making up reasons for beating him. He remembers feeling how unfair it was as he continued to try his best not to get any answers wrong or draw attention to himself. He would count down the days until summer arrived and he would not have to go to school.

He describes an occasion when Mr Hunter sexually abused him and followed it with a terrible physical beating as ‘the most serious and horrific episode of abuse’ that happened to him. He says when he thinks of that day, ‘I can see it as if I am looking at it from the corner of the room.’

Following this incident, his mother asked if he was ok. He didn’t tell her what had happened but managed to convince her he was ill so he could miss school for two days. He did not pass his 11+ exam and he thinks he failed deliberately to avoid having to go to a Christian secondary school.

As an adult, Nicholas decided to report his abuse to the police. He felt that the officer believed his account. However, when he heard that Nicholas had not told his parents, or seen a GP and there were no witnesses, the officer advised him it was ‘your word against his, he is a teacher, he is respectable’ and the matter would not proceed. Nicholas says he accepted this.

More recently Nicholas made another report to the police. He was informed there was enough information to investigate the events, but the police had difficulty locating Mr Hunter. Nicholas undertook his own research and discovered that Mr Hunter had died.

Nicholas feels resentment towards the church and the nuns who thought the behaviour of Mr Hunter was acceptable.  

Nicholas believes that it doesn't matter how intrusive it becomes for those working with children in terms of safeguarding processes, that ‘children have to come first’.

Your privacy

There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.