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Experiences Shared

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The‌ ‌Inquiry‌ ‌has‌ ‌taken‌ ‌the‌ ‌difficult decision‌‌ to‌ ‌stop‌ holding face to face Truth Project sessions‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌time, after carefully considering the Government's guidance. Other methods of sharing are still available.

Pablo

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

The first time Pablo realised the enormity of his childhood sexual abuse was when he discovered he was going to become a father.

Pablo was brought up by his mother, who was unable to show love to her children, and instead focused on her work and relationships with men. She married several times; one of her husbands regularly beat Pablo, another was an abusive alcoholic who terrified him. 

He was sexually abused from the age of five until his mid teens. There were several perpetrators, some of whom he knew and had been been brought up to respect and trust. 

Pablo believes that the common thread that connected the abusers was seeing how desperate he was for love and attention, grooming him until they had gained his trust and then abusing him. 

At the time, he says, ‘I didn’t resist because this felt right’.

He went on to marry a woman he loved and forge a successful career. He says he had ‘presented myself to everyone as a man capable of doing anything he set his mind to. I was in control of my life and had everything I needed, a good home, a good job, a good wife – everything. Life was perfect.’

But the news that his wife was pregnant filled him with dread and plunged him into depression that he could not explain. He now understands that he had suppressed the psychological harm caused by the abuse and it was starting to emerge.

Pablo explains had not told his wife that he had been sexually abused as a child. Previously he had confided in a male he thought was a friend, who proceeded to take advantage of his vulnerability and also abuse him. He had told his mother too, but she accused him of lying to sabotage her relationship.

Terrified at the thought of fatherhood, Pablo left his wife after the baby was born ‘in the same way my own father had abandoned my mother and me’. By this time he was starting to experience flashbacks from his childhood.

Wracked with guilt, he returned home. He and his wife had another child and at this point, he says, ‘life became unbearable’. He left again, and sought therapy, but his torment led him to attempt to take his own life.

After an admission to a psychiatric hospital, he descended into a self-destructive spiral of depression and drug abuse.

Pablo lost his family, his home and his career. He describes how desperately he wanted to be in touch with his family, but he had been told survivors of abuse would go on to abuse others. He lived in fear that he might abuse his own children. 

Finally, he realised that he was killing himself through drug and alcohol abuse and he found the strength to begin rebuilding his life. 

With the help of therapy, he says, ‘I allowed the child within me to feel the feelings, identify them, accept them and work through them, moving on to counsel others with similar stories.’

Pablo would like to see support for fathers who have been abused being recognised as a real need. He believes that men are often ‘left in the dark with their own fears of parenting’.  He thinks that had any of the professionals involved been aware of symptoms that male survivors might experience at the birth of a child, he could have been helped. 

He still grieves the loss of his own childhood, the loss of his children, his wife and his dreams of having the perfect family. But, he concludes, by allowing men an opportunity to talk about the abuse, the process of healing can begin. 

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