Quick Exit

Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Ronald was sexually abused by two female family members and by a series of men in different institutions.

He has sought help to overcome his trauma, and to be a good parent to his daughter.

Ronald says he was very young when he had his first ‘sexual experience’. This involved his half-sister, who was much older than him, having sex with him. He remembers that he did not understand what was happening but thought it must be normal among family members. 

When he was about seven years old his mother’s partner, who had been violent towards Ronald, left the family home. Following this, Ronald’s mother made him sleep in her bed and perform sexual acts on her. Ronald later found out that his mother, who was an alcoholic, was also sexually abused by a family member and he reflects that once he knew that ‘this snail’s trail of disaster was clear’.

Ronald was so unhappy that he intended to commit suicide by climbing to the top of a building but a member of clergy from a local church talked him out of it. He says this man was kind to him and invited him to visit the church. Ronald, who was about eight years old at this time, began to visit regularly.

One day while talking in the vestry, this man suddenly pulled Ronald’s trousers down and began touching his penis. Ronald describes then feeling extreme pain in his backside as he had sex with him. Bleeding and crying, he ran home and told his mother, who called the police. The member of the church was subsequently convicted.

By the age of 11, Ronald had stopped going to school and was drinking regularly. Social services became involved, as did the police on another occasion when Ronald wanted to commit suicide, but he does not remember anyone trying to discover his underlying problems.

He says that by the time he was in his early teens, he and his mother had become violent towards each other. Ronald was arrested and sent to a secure unit. He describes this as the first time in his life that he started to feel safe.

But this feeling was short-lived. Ronald was moved to a detention centre, which he describes as ‘six months of hell.’ Two officers would scald and freeze the boys in the showers and make the boys perform oral sex on them. Anyone who didn’t comply was beaten.

He remembers one officer who tried to help by keeping the boys away from their abusers.

On one occasion, Ronald told an officer’s wife what was happening to the boys. He says she was the first person to listen to him. Soon after, he was marched in front of the governor who told him he would never be released. When he was released, he was immediately taken by police car to court on charges he did not understand. He was placed in a psychiatric assessment unit before being moved to a secure unit in an approved school.

Here, Ronald shared a dormitory with other boys, one of whom was very withdrawn. Ronald learned in later life that the boy had hanged himself.

The housemaster often took the boys swimming and tried to make Ronald swim naked, saying there were no trunks available. Ronald was assigned to work which meant he had to get up at 4am. He often noticed that one of his roommates was missing from his bed at this time and thinks he was with the housemaster.

Once while Ronald was showering, the housemaster made advances, but Ronald pushed him away. That night he was taken from his bed to the housemaster’s office. The housemaster began rubbing Ronald’s backside and telling him what he wanted him to do to him, but Ronald reacted violently. Nothing was said about the incident. He says ‘it was like it never happened’ and the housemaster never touched him again. Ronald says that was the last sexual abuse he experienced in his childhood.

After he was discharged from care, Ronald began to use illegal drugs and to abuse alcohol. He says he found it very hard to maintain a stable relationship and left a partner with whom he had children because he was afraid that he might become an abuser himself. He had outbursts of violence and has spent time in psychiatric units.

Today, having attended Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, Ronald has ceased his drug taking and does not drink. He has had a daughter and

is a single parent. He received help from a sympathetic social worker who told him that he was a good parent and wrote a strongly supportive letter to social services on his behalf. After this, Ronald says he gained confidence and despite his previous concerns he realised he had no desire to abuse his daughter. 

Ronald feels that many opportunities to stop the abuse he suffered as a child were missed by professionals. He adds that the institutions he was abused in are now under police investigation.

Ronald believes that authorities (police, social workers) should try to get to the root cause of children’s problems rather than just dealing with the symptoms.

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