Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Ronnie

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

As a young boy, Ronnie was kidnapped by a stranger who dragged him into a derelict building and abused him, then gave Ronnie money to buy sweets and left.

This incident sent Ronnie’s behaviour into a downward spiral. He began truanting committing petty crimes, which resulted in him being placed in a children’s custodial institution, where he remained for several years. 

In the school, the boys slept in a large dormitory with a housemaster based in a room at the end. The housemaster would abuse the boys.

In one distressing memory, Ronnie recalls a boy crying in the bed next to his. The housemaster took this child from his bed to his room, and Ronnie heard the boy scream. The housemaster returned the boy to his bed where he continued to cry for hours.

Sometimes the boys would come upstairs to find the light in the dormitory not working and Ronnie believes this was to make it easier for the housemaster to abuse them.

He and a friend worked together to ensure that they were both as tightly tucked in the bed as they could be, to try and stop the housemaster abusing them that night. 

On dry summer days the boys would be taken on walks, often supervised by the housemaster. Once alone with the children, the housemaster would almost always drag one child off and abuse them.

During his time at the school, Ronnie had little contact with his parents. His mother visited once, and Ronnie told her that the housemaster was hurting him. 

She responded that Ronnie must be doing something wrong. The housemaster would write negative reports about Ronnie so that he wouldn’t be allowed to go home at weekends.

Ronnie remembers that one morning he went upstairs to have a smoke but found the door to the dormitory closed and locked. He could hear crying from inside the room and on looking through the keyhole, he witnessed the housemaster abusing a boy.

Ronnie fetched a member of staff, who ran upstairs, returning with the housemaster who looked dishevelled and embarrassed. Ronnie saw the housemaster leave the school with his suitcase. The incident was never mentioned again.

Later at Christmas the institution choir went to sing at a local event. Ronnie was horrified to see his old housemaster working there. The housemaster grabbed him by the ear but didn’t hit him. That was the last time he saw the housemaster.

Ronnie could not understand why no-one in authority at the school could see what was happening, and believes other teachers must have known about the abuse.

As an adult, Ronnie saw a television appeal by police for victims of abuse at the institution. On coming forward he was told that another teacher had also abused children at the institution. Ronnie became part of a prosecution process against his old housemaster. 

He describes the court case as an ordeal with very little support for the witnesses. The case was stayed by the judge for legal reasons. Ronnie was asked if he wanted to participate in a civil compensation case, but he declined. He says he went to the police to ‘put him away, not for money’.

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