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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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Isabel says ‘it’s been a very beneficial experience to speak openly to the Truth Project’

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A threatening and disturbing event that happened on a school trip abroad terrified Isabel at the time. The lack of an appropriate response by school staff compounded her distress and had a lasting effect on her wellbeing.

Isabel had been very excited about the trip to a foreign city. The group of teenagers stayed in a youth hostel and she shared a large dormitory with other girls. One night several men came into the room to move some mattresses. Isabel and the other girls felt uncomfortable and disturbed that this had happened. They complained but the teachers and hostel staff did not seem to take their concerns seriously.

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Hayley was abused multiple times in care and felt abused all over again by the justice system

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Hayley says her parents ‘did not want me’ and her father was physically abusive. She and her sisters spent their childhoods in and out of care, where she suffered more mistreatment. She thinks now that she would have been safer if she had stayed at home with her father.

She remembers that, as a young child, she was sexually abused in one children’s home by a male member of staff, David. Every week for a about year he took her to a different part of the home to ’do things’. Sometimes he was joined by another man.

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Abbie didn’t realise the impact sexual abuse had on her until she was in her 50s

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Years of sexual abuse, perpetrated by a priest who exploited a family connection to gain access to Abbie as a young child, has had a profoundly destructive effect on some aspects of her life for decades.

Abbie’s family had a strong affiliation with the church and had known Father Paul, a senior clergyman, for many years. He took advantage of these circumstances to abuse her between the ages of seven and 11 years.

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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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Oliver talks about how mental health services are failing survivors

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Oliver has experienced serious mental health problems as a result of sexual abuse in his childhood. He came to the Inquiry to give his views on how mental health services are failing survivors.

As a young schoolboy, Oliver encountered an older pupil who he admired and looked up to. The older boy got Oliver to carry out increasingly strange tasks by way of ‘serving’ him. Looking back, Oliver sees he was in a sort of ‘sexual slavery’ and was subject to a variety of violent and sexual abuse. But, he says: ‘I didn’t see it as abuse at the time; just something really, really terrible.’

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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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Veronica was a deaf child whose parents had died, but police described the nun who abused her as ‘vulnerable’

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Veronica’s father passed away when she was young and when her mum became terminally ill the family started looking at children’s homes for Veronica to live. Her siblings were fostered, but the foster parents didn’t want Veronica as she was deaf. A home was found which had a deaf school attached.

Veronica was placed in a children’s home run by nuns. She was subjected to cruelty and abuse from a few of the nuns, including one who was particularly sadistic. No one in the home signed, so communication was difficult for Veronica. It was run by four main nuns. Veronica recalls that she liked one of them, but the others were very cruel.

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Sue shared her experience and hopes it will draw a line under the sexual abuse and help her move forward

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Sue grew up in an isolated part of the country and attended a small primary school, where there were few visitors, after-school clubs or external influences. 

Her primary school headteacher, Mr Parker, abused her and other children, and she knows that this was common knowledge in the community. She believes that there were ‘so many opportunities to stop this man’ but he was allowed to continue.

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Despite experiencing brutal sexual abuse in care, Alan now has a successful career and loving family

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Alan’s earliest memories are of living in fear at a care home. He endured brutal sexual abuse, cruel punishments, limited food, hard physical work and no kindness, love or affection.

Remarkably, in his adult life he went on to establish a successful career. He wants to relate his experiences to try and help children in the future.

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Barbara says ‘I want my voice heard, I want it on record … I am not the child in the police station’

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Barbara was a little girl when her happy life was shattered by the death of her mother. While trying to cope with her loss and grief, she was sexually abused by her adult stepbrother.

Within a year of her mother’s death, Barbara’s father had remarried, and her life changed dramatically.

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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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Leonard is upset that his parents’ trust was betrayed by the priests who sexually abused him

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Leonard’s family were devout Christians and he and his two siblings were sent to church schools. He and one of his siblings were sexually abused by priests but at the time did not confide in each other or their parents.

Leonard describes how tortured he felt by the abuse, and his distress that his parents were so cruelly deceived by people they respected and trusted.

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