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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Vince was sexually abused by an army veteran.

He lived in fear of his father and was bullied at school. His fear of punishment made him afraid to tell anyone about the abuse.

Vince grew up in the 1960s and 70s. His father was severe, authoritarian and Vince says he seemed to be ‘permanently cross and on edge’. He hated it when his mum went out and he was alone with his dad; he describes being in a ‘frozen state of fear’. 

At school, where the regime was also very strict, he was ‘lost, anxious and awkward’. He ‘never really fitted in with the other kids’ and was bullied physically and mentally. 

One teacher, who was also a clergyman, seemed kind and invited Vince to his house. He got the boy to sit on his knee and although Vince says nothing else happened, he felt uncomfortable and never went back. 

A neighbour, Mr Green, did odd jobs for people and said Vince could do some work with him. Vince liked Mr Green, he was fun, and Vince was able to relax and laugh with him, and even swear. 

Mr Green would give Vince wine to drink, and over time the conversations they had took a ‘more adult theme’. At the time, Vince knew nothing about sex, and he remembers thinking that the things Mr Green talked about didn’t sound like the kind of thing he’d want to do. 

Over time, Mr Green became more explicit in his conversations, and one day he demanded that Vince pull his pants down. Vince was scared and embarrassed and he went home. He remembers that he was afraid he would be in trouble if his dad found out, but also that if he didn’t go back to Mr Green’s house he’d be in trouble for that too.

When he did go back Mr Green continued talking to him about sex. He also started to be aggressive, threatening to tell Vince’s dad about their conversations. Mr Green began to sexually abuse Vince, touching his genitals and masturbating him. 

Vince does not know exactly how long the abuse went on, but he says it seemed it was ‘a long time’. After one occasion when Mr Green offered him money to perform oral sex, Vince never went back. 

He still had no idea about why Mr Green was doing these things, but he knew he couldn’t tell his parents and he didn’t trust the teachers at school. He also feared being bullied even more if other children found out. 

Some time later, Vince’s mother asked him when he was going to see Mr Green again, and Vince told her he hoped ‘never’ because the man always wanted to look at his private parts.

His mother spoke to his dad, saying she wanted to call the police, but in the end his parents just went to see Mr Green and said that Vince would not be going back to see him. 

After this Vince started to drink and smoke and he became aggressive and abusive. He started fighting the bullies at school, which he says made the last two years a bit better, but he still underachieved. 

When he started work, he says he was always nervous with people and he thinks his colleagues disliked him.

He had a ‘massive fear of failure’, found relationships difficult, began drinking heavily and attempted suicide. When his parents heard about this, he says, they were heartbroken, and were kind to him.

Vince still finds social situations and intimacy difficult. He drinks too much but can't cut down. He suffers with a number of mental and physical health issues.

Because some of the problems he has did not begin until he was an adult, Vince is not sure if they were caused by being sexually abused. But he feels the abuse ‘almost went under the carpet until I was in my early 40s’ and he does think that when he began ‘acting out’ at school it was because of the abuse and the bullying. Nobody in authority ever spoke to him about his behaviour.

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