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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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Elaine says ‘I feel broken … like everyone else is functioning well and I’m not’

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Throughout her chaotic early life, Elaine suffered neglect and sexual abuse from family members and others outside her home. 

When she tried to speak out, she was not believed, but labelled ‘bad’ and often returned to the places where she was being abused.

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Trevor was raped by a vicar in a church, abused in a custodial institution and failed by the police

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Trevor says he blocked out most of his childhood recollections to help him cope with the pain caused by the sexual abuse he suffered.

Now his early memories are returning, and he says he realises he had a ‘lovely childhood’ before the abuse changed his life.

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June wants her parents to tell her the abuse she suffered was not her fault

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June describes her family as authoritarian, with children expected to do as adults said. When she was sexually abused by a relative, she was not believed.

The abuse established a pattern of suffering, chaos and further abuse in her life that continues to affect her.

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Alberta wants children to know that sexual abuse can happen within a ‘family’ and not just with strangers

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From a very young age Alberta was sexually abused on numerous occasions, often in her home. This made her vulnerable to more abusers, one of whom was another child.

Her attempt to tell a member of staff at school what was happening was not met with an effective response. This added to her feeling that she was not safe anywhere.

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Sheridan’s abuse drove her to attempt suicide. She was not happy or relieved when she woke up in hospital

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Sheridan’s father was a teacher who taught at a local school. When she started primary school at the age of four, Sheridan was in a class taught by Mr Jenkins, who knew her father.  

Mr Jenkins began to visit Sheridan’s home, and over time he used his relationship with her father to gain her trust and sexually abuse her.

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Eva feels she was let down because she didn’t fit the stereotype of an abused child

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Eva lived with her parents and older sibling, and describes her family as ‘respectable and middle class’.

She thinks this facade is the reason that many professionals missed the signs that she was being physically and sexually abused. 

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Justin thinks that religion is a factor in sexual abuse

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Justin grew up in a large Christian family. His parents had to work long hours to support the family, and he recalls that his father did not seem to be around very much when he was younger.

He and his brothers attended a Catholic school. When Justin was eight years old, a sports teacher began to abuse him. He is now aware that this teacher also abused his two brothers but did not know this at the time.

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Religious elders went to court to support the man who sexually abused Violet

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Violet grew up in a large family. Her father was violent and abusive to her mother and after the couple separated, her mother met someone from a closed religious order who seemed kind and gentle.

But a member of the congregation sexually abused Violet, and she did not want to spoil her mother’s happiness by speaking out.

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Ray struggles to cope with flashbacks of sexual abuse

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Ray describes having had a difficult life. He has had to cope with mental health issues which have continued since childhood.

In recent years, he was visited by a friend who mentioned their time together in the Cub Scouts. This triggered flashback episodes for Ray, with fragmented memories of sexual abuse.

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Dominic says ‘I am here for my brother… I want my brother to not be known as a liar’

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Dominic grew up in the 1960s and 70s. He was one of five children in what he describes as ‘a very, very poor family’.

His family was befriended by a man, Gil, who was a senior leader in a local Red Cross youth group. Dominic says ‘He wheedled himself into our family life like a friend’. 

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Tracey-Ann says ‘There is no such thing as bad children, only children that have been dealt a bad hand’

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Tracey-Ann describes a childhood of “abject terror”, with sexual abuse and domestic violence. Her earliest memory is being abused by her babysitter who later became her stepfather.

She describes how she and her siblings were terrorised by their stepfather. He would wait until they were asleep, then drag them from their beds while wearing a mask. 

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Neve says ‘I see child sexual abuse as a power issue and I would like to see recognition of that’

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Neve was the youngest sibling in a large family and she describes an atmosphere of ‘loyalty, sharing and looking after each other’ during her childhood in the 1960s and 70s.

But sexual abuse by an in-law, inflicted on her as a young girl, and later another family member, has taken its toll on close family bonds. It has also left Neve feeling guilty that she should have done more to stop the abuser.

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