Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Sophie

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Sophie came to the Truth Project to talk about the grooming and sexual abuse she experienced as a teenager by her teacher, and the failings of the teaching staff and other adults to intervene.

She describes growing up in a ‘mollycoddled’ household with a very close extended family who lived close by and saw each other daily.

She and her sibling were not allowed to play out, and other people were not really allowed within their family circle. But she also says that her parents never hugged her and that she craved attention and love.

When she started her period, her mother got a relative to explain it to Sophie, who thought she was dying.

A new teacher, Mr Clyne, arrived at school when Sophie was 15 years old. He began to pay attention to her, and she began going to his class and his office and ate lunch with him every day.

She says that no one ever questioned why she wasn’t in her own class and that ‘I liked it that he gave me attention’.

After Mr Clyne first kissed and touched her in his office, she says I remember going home and watching Neighbours and saw someone kissing and I thought, ‘I’ve done that’. I realised I couldn’t tell anyone, but I wanted to tell everyone. I thought I loved him.

Sophie spent all the time she could with Mr Clyne, often publicly, but nothing was done.

At the school dance, Mr Clyne danced with her very closely and sang in her ear, and everyone cleared the floor, leaving them to dance alone.

She had photos of them dancing together all over her bedroom wall and her mother found letters he had written her, saying what he wanted to do with her. But she still let Sophie go out to meet him.

When Sophie left school, but still a teenager, Mr Clyne wrote to her saying his partner was going away and that he wanted to have sex with her. He picked her up in his car, took her to the pub and then took her home and had sex with her.

She recalls, ‘Afterwards he lay there snoring like it was normal and I lay wide awake worrying about his partner … I thought we would have breakfast, but he just woke up early and said: ‘Come on, get up, I need to get you home’. He just dropped me off and I never saw him again.

Sophie never told anyone what happened until a few years ago when, after a few drinks, she disclosed the abuse to the headmaster of the school during a social event.

As Mr Clyne still worked in the school, the headmaster requested that they meet along with the school safeguarding officer

Sophie says ‘My head was all over the place. I kept thinking about him [Mr Clyne] and his wife.’

She heard that Mr Clyne had been suspended from the school. She had to tell her boss as she was unable to concentrate and also had to tell her partner the details of the abuse for the first time.

Sophie was eventually contacted by the police, who told her another woman had come forward but would not make a statement and they needed someone willing to press charges.

Sophie says that her heart said no, but her head said she had to and she asked for time to think. Shortly afterwards, she was informed by a police officer that Mr Clyne had killed himself.

Sophie describes her mixed feelings, including self-blame, guilt, anger and hurt towards Mr Clyne and everyone who failed to intervene in what was so publicly occurring.

She had thought that she was in love and that she special, but she also recognises his behaviour as abuse and wonders how many more people like her were out there who he may have abused. She finds it hard to sleep as she pictures him dead; she spends time looking at photos of him.

When Sophie attended the Truth Project, she had been waiting eight months to speak to a therapist. In the seven months since she reported the abuse she said she had been self-harming and feels she and her partner have grown apart.

However, she is hopeful this will change once she gets some help. She adds: ‘If it wasn’t for my child I would have ended it’.

Sophie would like to see better safeguarding processes in school that include listening to children and better communication between the police and victims and survivors.

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There are very limited circumstances where we tell anyone your name without your consent, for example if a child is currently at risk and we need to tell the police.