Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Shaun

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Shaun was abused as a child on multiple occasions by his scoutmaster, Frank, who was a friend of Shaun’s parents.

He says it was not until he was an adult that he understood how wrong the abuse was, because abusers ’play with the heads’ of their victims and make them think the behaviour is ‘normal’.

Frank has now been convicted and received a prison sentence. He had previously been convicted of other offences against children. 

Shaun was a prosecution witness in the second court case and says he had mixed experiences during the trial. It was his first opportunity to tell the truth in public and he found giving evidence a cathartic experience. 

Shaun feels the legal professionals were very helpful, but says he was not sufficiently prepared for the court process and that support and communication for victims and survivors was not good enough.

He adds that the court building was badly set up for victims and survivors; at one point, he found himself in the same room as Frank. When the judge sent Frank to prison, Shaun says he finally felt safe.

Shaun is working with a counsellor now and feels he is recovering and able to do more things. However, he describes some of his previous experiences of doctors and access to psychological support as ‘dreadful’.

One doctor told him he should go home and learn to forgive; others were more supportive and referred him for NHS counselling, but the waiting list at the time was 12–18 months.

Shaun believes there were several opportunities to stop Frank from continuing to abuse.

He is disappointed that the Scout Association did not undertake an investigation following Frank’s first conviction.

He says he has felt guilt all his life for not speaking out sooner and preventing the abuse of others.

He believes children need to have someone they can talk to about what is happening to them. In his case, his parents did not believe him or want to hear what he was telling them, and his abuser was in a position of authority. There was no trusted, independent body that he could turn to.

Shaun thinks that better education is the key to fighting child sexual abuse.

He would like there to be more education and training for the police, medical professionals and teachers to recognise signs of abuse.

He believes children are not given enough information to help them understand that abuse is not normal, no matter what an adult might tell them to the contrary. He adds that parents should learn more about the dangers to their children from the internet.

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