Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Ryan

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Ryan went to a boarding school, which was elitist and very sport oriented. But, he says, he did not excel at sport; he was a timid child who was always the last one chosen for the teams, and he was bullied at this school.

Ryan recalls how one day he went for a run and when he came back to his dormitory one of the slightly older pupils, a captain of several of the school teams, sat on top of him and started playing with him. He was around 16 at the time.

He was subjected to this behaviour again, and then it developed further and continued for six months. The older boy would call Ryan into his room and get him to engage in mutual masturbation. Ryan found this deeply unpleasant but says that when the older boy started doing it with someone else, he felt mixed emotions. On one level he says, he was being noticed but on another he felt dreadful after the experiences.

He reported the abuse to his housemaster, but nothing happened. No one asked if he was all right and he does not know if the older boy was spoken to about it.

He says that at the time he did not appreciate how the lack of a response from the school ‘messed’ him up. Ryan feels it was the lack of interest in and care for him that was the most shocking and he has a hatred of institutions and team sports. The abuse led him to question his sexuality and his self-worth.

Ryan says he does not blame the older boy as he was only 17 or 18 at the time, but he is angry at the lack of care and follow up by the school. He became every more withdrawn, but no one seemed to notice. The ethos of the school was to be a man, to stand up and not to be a ‘namby pamby’.

He does not know if the school told his parents about the abuse, but he kept it secret from them.

Ryan believes awareness, transparency and good governance are the answers to protecting children from abuse. He says reporting the abuse was the hardest thing he ever did. He believes that ‘children need to able to feel safe to report abuse and know that when it is reported it will be taken seriously’.

He adds that there should be a greater awareness and understanding of the impact abuse has on a person’s mental health. He says ‘This is a national cultural problem that we have not dealt with and it stays with you for your whole life. No matter how hard you try it is still there.’ 

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