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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Neglected and physically abused by his birth mother, Simon spent his childhood in the care system, where he was subjected to serial sexual abuse.

He feels deep empathy for others who have suffered in a similar way and wants to use his experiences to help victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Simon had been under the supervision of social services since he was 18 months old. When he was about six or seven years old, he was placed with foster parents, Mr and Mrs Kitchen, who he describes as a well-spoken and highly regarded couple.

This was Simon’s first experience of sexual abuse. Mr Kitchen would call Simon his ‘special boy’, take him into the bathroom and touch him. The touching progressed to oral sex and Mr Kitchen anally penetrating Simon, sometimes using objects.

Mr Kitchen began bathing both Simon and another foster child, Wayne, encouraging the boys to perform sexual acts on each other while he watched.

Simon says he didn’t understand what was happening at the time, but he recalls that he thought that Mr Kitchen, whom he called ‘dad’, was doing these things because he loved him. 

After a year Simon was removed from the Kitchens and subsequently placed with different foster parents, Peter and Sheila.

Simon found out later that Mr and Mrs Kitchen were prohibited from fostering shortly after he left their care. He has also subsequently learnt that Wayne was convicted as an adult for serious sexual offences and imprisoned.

When he experienced appropriate fatherly behaviour from Peter, Simon realised that the sexual abuse he had been subjected to by Mr Kitchen was not normal behaviour.

He enjoyed living with his new foster parents, but he did experience sexual abuse during his time with them – not by Peter or Sheila but by a man he met out walking. This man would show Simon pornographic magazines and sexually abuse him.

This continued for a few years and Simon wonders, however strange it may seem, if sexual abuse had almost become the norm to him, and the contact and attention from this man replaced what he had been used to with Mr Kitchen.

When Simon’s mother decided she wanted him back, he was returned to her care for a short time, until the situation broke down.

He was moved again, this time to a children’s home. Simon recalls that he didn’t mind this. He played sports and enjoyed bike riding, but here he was also subjected to further sexual abuse by an older boy, Darren, with whom he shared a bedroom.

Simon adds that he subsequently found out that Darren had been removed from his family due to his sexualised behaviour and that he should not have been allowed to share a room with another child.

After he left the children’s home, Simon told his social worker that something had happened with Darren, but felt he was ignored. At the time, Simon trusted his social worker and viewed him as a friend, but recently he has learned the social worker denies that Simon reported the abuse despite the written evidence. He feels angry and feels let down by this. 

Some time later, feeling the need to get away from his life and situation, Simon travelled and worked around the world. He describes this as a fantastic time and feels lucky to have had the experience. However, he recognises that he used alcohol and gambling to cope with what had happened to him and says he would also respond with aggression if he felt threatened.

The sexual abuse he suffered continues to affect him; he experiences physical symptoms, including bleeding, and finds it difficult to trust people. After disclosing his childhood abuse to his previous partner, his marriage broke down.

For a long time, Simon did not want to address the sexual abuse he suffered as a child until he heard about the Inquiry and requested his records from social services. He says he needed to see it written down to believe the abuse he experienced, commenting that he had questioned himself about it over the years.

Simon believes that his own experiences have attuned him to vulnerabilities in children. In his work he has identified a child who was being abused, which led to the perpetrator being convicted.

He hopes that television coverage and sexual abuse storylines may help young people to recognise abuse and encourage them to report it.

His current partner and family are very important to him, but his abuse has left him with reservations about any physical contact with children. He says ‘I actually love kids, I’ve got grandchildren, but I am petrified to stay on my own with them.’

Simon is now an active member of several victims’ and survivors’ groups and would really like to use his experiences in a positive way to help others.

He feels strongly that the government should have a multi-disciplinary advisory panel, including medical staff, social care professionals and victims and survivors of all ages and backgrounds.

He adds, ‘Now that I’ve got confidence in the Inquiry and I know that things are going to change, I’d like to be part of that process.’

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