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Experiences Shared

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Due to the current situation caused by coronavirus (Covid-19) we have made some changes to Truth Project sessions in person.
The Truth Project will draw to a close during 2021. We encourage you to share your experience before it concludes.

Roger

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Roger suffered years of sexual abuse, including rape, at the hands of an Anglican priest. 

It began when Roger was 12, and the abuser exerted such a level of control over him, that he was unable to extricate himself until he was in his mid 20s.

Roger’s family were not church-goers but a priest at his school, Theodore, led prayers and provided additional tutoring for pupils. The school recommended this for Roger.

During the lessons, Theodore would prod, poke, punch or tickle him if he made mistakes. This behaviour escalated to the priest touching Roger’s testicles, showing him pornography and masturbating him.

One day, Theodore picked Roger up, slammed him to the floor, pinned him down and raped him. By the time he was in his mid teens, Roger was being anally raped regularly.  

At one point, Roger became convinced he had a sexually transmitted infection. He thought he would die and was terrified, but also, he says he felt ‘ok with that’ as it would be an escape.  

When Roger was applying to university, Theodore tried to make him choose one close to home. Roger did move away, but Theodore insisted that he telephone him every evening and return home at weekends. Roger says he did this for the entire three years he was a student, and didn’t question the power Theodore had over him.

He made friends at university, and there were girls who were interested in him, but he did not want to pass on the disease he thought he had.

After he graduated, Roger returned to his home area and the abuse and control by Theodore resumed. He began training for a professional career and during this training, Roger became aware of what sexual abuse was and that it had happened to him. He started drinking heavily. He says ‘it was an anaesthetic’. 

When he was in his mid 20s, Roger told Theodore the abuse should stop. The priest agreed that it would, but continued to prey on Roger. At this point, Roger resigned from all the church activities that Theodore had involved him in. The priest had even controlled how he dressed, and in defiance, Roger began wearing different clothes. He had never been to parties, clubs or discos, and he began to socialise with his peers. 

He attended a sexual health clinic and was told he did not have a sexually transmitted disease. He had been trying to treat himself with disinfectant. Realising he wasn’t going to die, he began taking part in sport and made more friends.  

Roger got engaged, and decided he did not want to continue his career, and wanted to be ordained instead. He attended theological college and got married.

Some time later, he received a phone call telling him that Theodore had been arrested for abusing someone. He describes how at first he froze, then told his wife, saying he believed the allegation because Theodore had done the same to him. 

Roger rang his archbishop, and the police. At first his parents wanted to support Theodore, as they had been taken in by him, but Roger disclosed the abuse to his father. 

A court case followed, which Roger says was ‘another form of abuse’ and  he was subjected to brutal cross examination. He felt that people in the area were inclined to support Theodore and not believe him, but the priest was convicted and received a long prison sentence.

He would like to the court system to do more to provide support for victims and survivors. He also thinks the church should review safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure the needs of victims and survivors come before those of the church.

Roger is still living with the impact of the years of abuse and control he endured. He has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experiences memory loss and disconnection. He is overprotective of his children. 

He had counselling, which he says has been helpful, and says his faith also helps him to cope with his experiences.   

 

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