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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Tamsyn grew up with three brothers. Her parents were neglectful and had a volatile relationship. 

She said that sexual behaviour was ‘normalised’ within the family from as far back as she can remember, and she was abused by two of her brothers, and one of their friends.

Tamsyn’s eldest brother, Corey, sexually abused her once, but she describes this as ‘only touching’. She was subjected to more abuse by her other older brother, Sean, and his friend Albie. She thinks the abuse began when she was about 10 years old. 

Albie came round to the house almost every day, and his mother was friends with Tamsyn’s mother. Albie and Tamsyn’s brother started asking her if she wanted to ‘play a game’, and she says that as a young child, she always did. But their ‘games’ turned out to be sexual touching, with Sean and Albie both having their pants down. 

Over the next few years, the abuse became even worse. Tamsyn remembers vividly one night that her brother Sean penetrated her with a metal implement and how terrible it felt. She describes a feeling of resignation, saying that she was ‘not quite afraid because this had become normal by now; just do what he wants and it’ll be over quicker’. She adds that she was always ‘fearful of what was coming next’. 

Sean used additional tactics to coerce and control his sister. He threatened to tell their mother or his friends at school about the things he was making her do. He would grab her by the scruff of the neck when they were out in public and do little things to assert his dominance without people noticing. She explains ‘The role he played was ‘possessive partner’ but it was disguised as ‘protective brother’. 

Tamsyn suffered further sexual abuse by a man who lodged with the family for a time.

When Tamsyn was 13, she told Corey about the abuse by Sean. She says that although Corey had been the first person to sexually abuse her, he was ‘the only person I could vaguely trust at that time’.

Corey told their mother, even though she begged him not to, as she was afraid of her mother’s reaction, but Tamsyn says she ‘barely reacted – as if it was normal’.

When Corey confronted Sean he said first that Tamsyn was lying, and then that she had ‘asked for it’. Albie was questioned by the police but he denied the abuse. Sean was also questioned but he was not removed from the family home. However, Tamsyn and her younger brother were taken into care. She says the police dismissed the abuse by Sean and Albie as ‘experimenting’ and she is horrified at this view.

Tamsyn spent the rest of her childhood with different foster parents and in care homes.

From her early teens, she was groomed and sexually abused, both online and in reality, by several adult men. She knows that she felt a need for attention, and she says she was very gullible, and ‘could not see the warning signs’. 

Tamsyn has a developmental disorder. She was bullied at school and had few friends. She suffers from nightmares connected to the abuse, as well as feelings of shame, guilt, anger and resentment.

Social services did not pick up on any of the signs that Tamsyn was being neglected or abused, and she says ‘It should have been noticed’. She also feels let down by the police, who did not keep her safe. She believes sex education needs to be taught at an early stage and teachers should recognise the signs of abuse.  

Tamsyn goes to college and has a very supportive partner and a daughter. She says that she keeps surprising herself about how brave she can be.

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