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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Peter is deaf. As a child he was sent to a boarding school for the deaf because, he says, his parents believed he would fare better in this environment.

But their trust in the school was betrayed by teachers who sexually abused their son and other boys.

When Peter first arrived at the school, he had ‘just a broad understanding of sex in general’. He was placed in a dormitory with several other boys and, soon after, the housemaster started to come to his bedside during the night.

At first the housemaster would hug Peter, but this contact progressed to him putting his hands down Peter’s pants and fondling his penis. Peter says he would become aroused by this, and he felt scared when he saw this housemaster’s name on the duty rota.

The housemaster began to involve some of the other deaf boys in the dormitory in the abuse. He made them touch each other sexually while he watched, and he made another boy penetrate Peter, to the extent of ejaculating inside him. After this Peter would be allowed back to bed with a threat ‘not to tell anyone’, but he says, he was ‘too afraid to object’. Peter reflects that ‘vulnerable children are easy targets’.

Over time – Peter thinks it was about 18 months after the abuse began – the housemaster began to ‘make us play with his willy and masturbate’. This abuse could continue for hours before the boys were allowed back to bed.

The abuse continued for many years until another boy told a member of staff what was happening. Peter says he had a strong impression that this person already knew about the abuse.

The police were informed, and even though Peter felt intimidated by the officers, he managed to tell them about the abuse. The housemaster was arrested and was subsequently sent to prison. He was released after serving half of his sentence.

Peter was referred to a psychiatrist but says he didn’t feel he could talk to her. The school routine continued, and by this time Peter was having sex with other boys. He says: ‘It was the norm now’.

He experienced further abuse from two new housemasters at the school – one grabbed him by his throat and his ‘crotch’. And the second housemaster, who Peter thinks was very homophobic, twisted his arm, saying ‘homosexual, I’ll kill you’.

Peter feels that the school ‘brushed the abuse that went on under the carpet’. He adds: ‘They wouldn’t accept there was anything wrong and the reputation of the school was more important.’


After he left school, Peter says he had ‘feelings for other men’.

After he got married, he says ‘things were ok for few years’, but then ‘everything started going around in my head’.

Peter eventually divorced. He started to experience feelings of depression and intense anger. After some time, he asked his GP for help and was referred for counselling but, he says, he couldn’t disclose the abuse even in that setting. He adds that he has never disclosed the abuse in detail, apart from what he told the police when the housemaster was arrested.

Peter says he feels angry about the abuse he suffered and thinks it has partly caused his confusion around his sexuality and reflects, ‘this is how it has left me’.

He advocates several measures to protect children from abuse. He says that if abuse at school is investigated by people in authority, they should not be connected in any way with the school. He wants children from the age of five to be educated by parents and teachers about touching and how to protect themselves and speak up – he feels that if he had known more about sex and abuse it would have made a difference to his experience.

He would also like to see more support for disclosure and suggests there should be cameras in dormitories in residential settings for the protection of youngsters.

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