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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Thomas and his brothers belonged to a local sports club and met people from other clubs at events. When the family moved house, the boys transferred to another club, chaired by a man called Robin who they already knew from sporting events.

Robin used his position of status in the club and the sport to sexually abuse Thomas.

It became apparent that Robin took a particular interest in Thomas and his brother soon after they joined the new club. He would give them lifts and he lent Thomas better equipment for competitions. Thomas came from a large family and he says there was not much money for material things so the loan of the equipment was helpful.

One weekend when Thomas's brother was at an event away from home,  Robin suggested the boys stay with him in a caravan. In the night Robin came into the room where the brothers were sleeping and sexually abused Thomas. Thomas was 12 years old.

Back home, Robin continued the abuse. He would get Thomas to sit on his lap while he was driving and he tried to make Thomas to kiss him on the lips. On an occasion when Thomas was doing work experience for Robin, he stayed at the chairman’s house and Robin masturbated in front of him.  

When Thomas was in his mid teens he had a son, and he managed to break away from the abusive relationship with Robin.

He did not tell anyone about the abuse. He says he thought Robin was popular and well liked and a significant figure in the sport. Looking back on the abuse, he wonders why he was selected rather than his brother.

It was more than 20 years after the abuse that Thomas told some family members about it. He discovered Robin had a ‘worrying reputation’ at the time and that his family had been warned to be careful about him. For some reason, he says, his parents did not take those words of caution very seriously. After disclosing the abuse, Thomas spoke to a counselling service and then to the police, who started an investigation. He gave a video statement and Robin was arrested and charged.

He says that his experience with the police was good, but in court it was ‘horrendous’. When he was cross examined he felt it was if he was the one who had done something wrong, that he was being called a liar and was ‘only doing it for compensation’.

Robin was found not guilty and Thomas says the court case cost him two years of his life for no outcome.

The abuse has had a significant effect on his mental and physical health. He has suffered with depression, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and anger. He has felt withdrawn and ‘dislocated’ from life and has had suicidal thoughts.

He has had some support through his GP including counselling and therapy, and says the further support of loved ones, particularly his wife, has been a great help. His father has passed away and he feels sad he was never able to talk to him about the abuse.

Thomas would like to see changes made to court processes. The long delay in bringing the case to trial had a major impact on him and he felt the cross examination was excessively harsh.

He would also like to see better protection for witnesses. Other witnesses who came forward backed away from attending court and he believes this affected the outcome.

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