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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Zak was sexually abused by his mother’s partner and accomplices of this man.

He wants to highlight how child sexual abuse can be a factor in criminal behaviour for victims and survivors.

Zak has been diagnosed with a form of autism. His father beat his mother ‘black and blue’ and the couple separated when he was young. 

Zak adds that his mother was ‘hard’ and beat him as a child. After his father left, she brought various partners into the family home. Zak says ‘She was always looking for a man to rescue her’, but some of them were violent and beat her and Zak. 

When Zak was five years old, his mother’s partner Fred started beating him severely. Zak’s mother got pregnant and had a difficult birth. Around this time Fred started to sexually abuse Zak.

He remembers Fred dragging him upstairs, and holding onto the toilet while Fred punched him. In later years when he started to recall the sexual abuse – he says that ‘something terrible happened’ to him that night. He knows he was raped many times after that. 

The sexual abuse continued until Zak was about 11. He remembers social services coming to the family home at times ‘to see what was going on’, but nothing would change. Zak adds ‘All the damage was done by then’.

Zak remembers feeling terrorised at home and being bullied at school. He became disruptive and was ‘kicked out and sent to a sort of approved school’. He feels he was just seen as a problem child at school and says the only place he felt safe was his nan’s house.

By the time he was in his teens, Zak was taking drugs and drinking alcohol, and ‘robbing cars and getting into fights’. He spent time in prison and on his release, he returned to his home area on probation. He met a woman and they had a child, and Zak turned to crime to support his family. 

However, he says the relationship with his partner was not good and they split up. His access to his son is supervised due to his previous conviction.  

A few years ago, Zak started dreaming that men were having sex with him. He describes feeling ‘broken’ the next morning. He would wake up sweating, having wet the bed. 

He says that at this point, things began falling into place, ‘like a jigsaw’. Memories started flooding back to him, of Fred and other men sexually abusing him.  

One of Zak’s worst memories is of a time when his mother was in the hospital. About four men were in the house with Fred and they called Zak out of bed. He remembers them laughing and joking and them telling him to bend over. He felt something in his rectum and tried to get away, but they held him and assaulted him. 

After these recollections started returning to him, Zak began drinking heavily and taking drugs again. Eventually, he went to the police to report the abuse. He gave a statement, but they said there was not enough evidence to pursue the case.

At a later date, Zak saw Fred. Zak was drunk, and beat Fred badly. He was charged and appeared in court. He says his defence barrister did a good job of highlighting the sexual abuse that Fred had inflicted on him, and the judge acknowledged this when he sentenced Zak.   

Zak feels that his criminal behaviour and substance abuse are due to the abuse he suffered, and that too often this is not recognised when victims and survivors commit crimes. 

He would like to see education for children about abuse and how to protect themselves. He adds that some people who have had experience of abuse and prison could be ideal to raise awareness of abuse with youngsters.

Zak would also like to see treatments easily available for all abuse victims.

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