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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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After being sexually abused, Haley says she saw sex as a way of ‘pleasing people’

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Haley grew up in care and at a young age was adopted by a family. Sadly, this did not keep her safe and secure. She was exposed to sexual abuse and blamed by her parents for the way she behaved subsequently.

Haley’s adoptive parents were older people. Her father was unwell and unable to work, and her mother worked long hours, leaving Haley in the care of her older foster sibling.

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A scoutmaster’s position as ‘part of the family’ enabled him to sexually abuse Shaun for years

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Shaun was abused as a child on multiple occasions by his scoutmaster, Frank, who was a friend of Shaun’s parents.

He says it was not until he was an adult that he understood how wrong the abuse was, because abusers ’play with the heads’ of their victims and make them think the behaviour is ‘normal’.

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Janine says ‘I thought that was how daddies showed love ... I scrubbed myself to get rid of the feeling’

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Janine describes a childhood of fear, neglect and sexual abuse. Her mother had mental health difficulties and was emotionally unavailable and her father was an alcoholic.

The sexual abuse began when she was five years old and she has no clear memory of life before it.

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Sharon said ‘I am still alive, I came to the Truth Project because I could have been dead’

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Sharon describes her childhood as lonely, growing up in a family where her father sexually abused her, and her mother was frequently under the influence of alcohol and prescription medication.

She describes the humiliation of experiencing bowel difficulties in the school classroom as a result of the sexual abuse. She remembers realising that other girls at school did not have to do to their fathers what she had to, and that their fathers did not do the things to them that her father did to her.

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The priest who abused Giles was moved from ‘place to place’ by the church to protect the institution

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Giles attended a religious boarding school. He was a very good singer and a member of the choir. Giles described himself as a typical ‘cute little choir boy’.

The man who abused him, Arthur, was not a member of the teaching staff but a visiting musician associated with the school.

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Eddie was sexually abused at a youth club and it has affected his relationships ever since

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When Eddie was sexually abused as a young boy by a man his parents trusted, one of his main concerns was that he should not make life difficult for other people by telling anyone about it.

Eddie describes his life as a constant battle to recover from what happened to him. He was 11 years old when he joined a sports club run by Doug, a friend of his parents they assumed their son would be safe with.

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Edward says that people mistakenly believed that religious staff would show empathy to children

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Edward’s father disappeared when he was born. When he was very young his mother was taken into hospital and took him with her. She died in the hospital and Edward was taken into care soon afterwards.

Edward has no memory of his mother – no photographs and no records. His earliest memory was being taken into care by nuns who ran a convent. His first memory of abuse was being in a dormitory with lots of other boys. Each bedtime, the boys were made to kneel by the bed and say their prayers. The nuns would then come around with a cane and hit the bottom of the bed. They would ask if the boys were asleep and if any of them were caught awake they were given a hiding.

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Russell was sexually abused by his family GP, but the police did not investigate

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Russell did not talk about his abuse for many years, until it came out in a counselling session. Since then he has not been able to forget about it.

He says that, looking back, he realises he was abused by his family doctor at his very first appointment, even though his mother was in the room.

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Derek says that if people focus on compensation, they will not address solutions and cures

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Derek describes how being sexually abused by a teacher at boarding school made him feel embarrassed and guilty.

The teacher was very friendly and would invite Derek to his room, where he drew him into a sexual relationship. Derek says that at the time he felt there was no cruelty involved. Instead he felt bad for ‘encouraging favourable treatment’ and for doing something that he knew was wrong.

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A love of music led Dean, a gifted boy, to be sexually abused

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As a boy, Dean liked to sing. He gained in place in a school as a boarder where he joined the choir. The choirmaster used to take the boys to sing in the cathedral and Dean thought that singing in the cathedral was like ‘being in heaven’.

But there were two difficult things about the school that Dean accepted as being normal. One was the routine and intense physical abuse, usually caning for very minor matters. The second was the sexual intimacy between students.

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A trusted family member raped Megan when she was seven years old

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Megan describes her childhood as ‘rich’, although the family was financially poor. Both her parents worked long shifts and they arranged for her uncle, Daniel, to care for her and her sister while they were working.

This arrangement resulted in a serious sexual attack on Megan that has had devastating consequences on her life.

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The priest who abused Greg groomed his family first, and then fought the civil case he eventually brought

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Greg came from a very ‘church going’ background. His family moved to a new house in a small town and became involved with the clergy at the church.

When a new priest, Ken, joined their church, Greg's parents took him under their wing. Ken was a regular visitor and often ate with the family.

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