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Experiences Shared

These are some of the experiences of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project. All names and identifying details have been changed.

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Linda says ‘Survivors must not carry the shame of their perpetrators, or those that know but do not act’

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Linda describes her abuser as the ‘classic groomer; charming and intelligent’. Because she was very unhappy at home, she was particularly vulnerable to his abuse. She says ‘I thought he was my best friend’.

Mr Bradley was a teacher in Linda’s secondary school. He kept animals and she and many other girls in her class would help to look after them.

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Penny was sexually abused by the deputy matron in the care home where she was a teenage volunteer

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Penny’s early childhood years were difficult. Her father had mental health problems and she was physically abused and emotionally neglected. The family frequently moved house.

When Penny was in her early teens, the matron of a local care home came into her school asking for volunteers. Penny decided to do this. 

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When Kayleigh repeatedly reported sexual abuse, the responses from parents and police were not good enough

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Kayleigh attended a small, rural primary school. When she was 11 years old, the school children used to take a coach to go swimming once a week.

The headmaster, Mr Appleby, would send the boys into the coach and make Kayleigh and the other girls in her class stay in the classroom. He would close the blinds, lock the door and make the girls take off their clothes and get changed. He would sit on a chair amongst them, watching them and rocking back and forward.

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Home was not a safe haven for Lynne, but a place where she was regularly abused by her own father

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Lynne grew up in a military family, and regular house moves added to her sense of insecurity. She is now a campaigner for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Her father began to sexually abuse Lynne, the oldest of three children, before she was school age. This continued until she was in her mid-teens. She says her mother was aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it. ‘She was a very weak woman’, says Lynne, ‘a victim too, in a way’. 

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Noah thinks the causes of behavioural changes in children need to be identified

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Noah was sexually abused by a priest and an older child. These experiences caused behavioural problems for him at school and led him to cut himself off from the church and lose his faith.

His says the impact of the abuse on his mental health was made worse by his dealings with the police when he reported it.

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Kieran believes that police forces should be better trained to deal with non-recent sexual abuse cases

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Kieran has early memories of a good family life, but after the death of his father he endured abuse and violence.

A few years after Kieran’s father died, his mother met a new partner who moved into the family home with his two sons, Lewis and Carl. They were in their late teens and had been in trouble with the authorities.

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Jill was traumatised when her family covered up her grandfather’s sexual abuse

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The trauma of being sexually abused as a child by her grandfather became even more devastating when Jill realised that other family members had known and been complicit in covering it up.

Jill relates that she came from a middle-class background, with a businessman father. When her parents divorced very acrimoniously her time was split between them, with most of the holidays spent with her father.

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Karen says that private and boarding schools attract people who want to sexually abuse children

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The daughter of migrant parents who had high aspirations for their family’s future in the UK, Karen was sent to a private girls’ school as a boarder.

Karen was very young, the school was a long way from home and her younger sibling had sadly died in childhood. A male teacher exploited her vulnerable position to sexually abuse her and then stalk her for a time after she left the school.

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Ryan is angrier with the lack of care from boarding school than with his abuser, who was another student

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Ryan went to a boarding school, which was elitist and very sport oriented. But, he says, he did not excel at sport; he was a timid child who was always the last one chosen for the teams, and he was bullied at this school.

Ryan recalls how one day he went for a run and when he came back to his dormitory one of the slightly older pupils, a captain of several of the school teams, sat on top of him and started playing with him. He was around 16 at the time.

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Emily felt in a permanent state of fear and worthlessness during her childhood

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Emily describes how she endured extreme physical and emotional abuse by her mother, which caused chaos in her life and led to her being sexually abused.

Continually threatened and tortured at home, Emily says she felt scared and unloved. She recalls that when she was about seven years old, she stole £1 from her mother, who threatened to cut off one of her fingers with a large knife.

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Ashley says ‘If I was asked, I would have said, and it would have stopped’ – but nobody bothered to ask

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Ashley was a young teenager when he began to knock on neighbours’ doors seeking to earn money by doing odd jobs. One neighbour, Malcolm, paid him well for some gardening and asked him to come back. When Ashley returned, Malcolm took him inside the house and sexually abused him.

The abuse has had far-reaching effects on his life, including the breakdown of his relationships with his children, which he deeply regrets.

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Marcus feels the Scouts turned a blind eye to his sexual abuse in the 1960s and 70s

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Marcus was sexually abused during the 1960s and 70s by men from his local Scout Association and the church.

His quest for acknowledgment, an apology and recompense has been impeded by the length of time it took him to report the sexual abuse. He points out: ‘It is very difficult to actually complain about something you didn’t really recognise was going on.’

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