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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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Eliyahu would like to see more practical support to help victims and survivors move forward

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Eliyahu and his brother grew up in a strict religious household with very violent and emotionally abusive parents who routinely dragged him by his hair and beat him.

This meant that when he was subjected to violence and sexual abuse by others, he was well into his adulthood before he realised this was not normal.

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Harry is still haunted by his experience in residential school

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Harry was prompted to speak about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child by recent reports of sex offences by football coaches against young players. He says he wishes he could have spoken about it earlier

The sexual abuse occurred at a residential primary school, where he was sent because of previous non-attendance at school. Some of the other lads were nice, he says, but others horrible, and some teachers ‘had it in for him’.

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Jasmine believes her parents’ lifestyle made her vulnerable to abuse

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Jasmine relates that she grew up in a household where she was exposed to things she should not have experienced at such a young age.

From the time she was a toddler her mother and father had an ‘open marriage’. She describes the effect this had on her idea of how sex should be in a loving relationship and how vulnerable it made her to sexual abuse. This occurred in her home and neighbourhood. She believes the perpetrators could ‘sniff out’ her vulnerability.

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Joanne says ‘like pebbles thrown into a pond, the ripples keep on getting bigger’

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Joanne was first sexually abused by a neighbour as a young child and by others as she grew older. Responses to her suffering by many of the adults in authority she encountered included blame (of her), unkindness, indifference and inappropriate advice.

During her childhood, Joanne was intermittently placed in care. Her mother suffered from mental illness and was an alcoholic. She had a memory of childhood sexual abuse by a neighbour when she was a young child, and now knows that a social services case report described her in the following terms: ‘Joanne was wilful and defiant, sexually precocious … indecently assaulted by a man who was later convicted.’

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Aalia feels she was traumatised a second time by the criminal justice system

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Years of sexual abuse that began when she was a small girl led Aalia to obsessively self‑harm. Years later she endured the ordeal of multiple trials.

Aalia was around seven or eight years old when she started going to the local mosque with her sibling. Soon she began going on her own, arriving early and waiting downstairs. A new mosque representative noticed her and suggested she should say her prayers early in his quarters. She thought this odd but agreed. He would stand next to her and compliment her. This went on for a few weeks.

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A strict religious community closed ranks to prevent Jamie from reporting the sexual abuse he suffered

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Growing up in an extreme and highly controlling religious community, Jamie had no one to turn to about the abuse he suffered.

Jamie describes the culture of the community as very closed. All issues were expected to be dealt with within the community, which provided its own services including healthcare services, education and religious courts.

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On reporting her abuse to the police, Lynda says ‘I went in a survivor and left feeling like a victim’

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Lynda was fostered, along with her sister, when she was a toddler. After a series of placements, the girls were permanently placed with a couple who had their own child and another young boy who was also fostered.

By this time Lynda was four and her sister a few years older. Lynda remembers there was ‘no love in that house whatsoever’ and describes her foster father, Robert, as ‘not a very nice person’.

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Gazala says the sexual abuse she experienced became ‘the dirty laundry of the community’

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Like many other young children at her school, Gazala was sent to a small mosque in a neighbourhood house for several hours a week. 

There, she was sexually abused and raped over three years by a person in authority. When she officially reported the abuse three years later, she and her family were threatened and ostracised by their community. 

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Hugh’s abusers told him ‘You can’t say anything, I have tremendous influence’

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Hugh describes highly organised sexual abuse at the approved school he attended, involving staff and others from outside the institution, some of whom may have been in positions of senior authority.

He describes himself as a very bright child who was also ‘troublesome’. At the age of about 10, he appeared in juvenile court and was sent to an approved school.

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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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Laurell’s school operated with little oversight and abusers took full advantage of this

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Laurell grew up in an abusive home. When she was in her early teens she was sent to a small boarding school. It was privately owned by a couple, and was an approved school where some of the pupils were troubled children.

Laurell describes it as a closed institution, with physical and sexual abuse accepted as part of the punishment regime. 

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Now happy and successful, Sonia was sexually abused by her brother and failed by the police

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Sonia describes herself as a happily married mother and a successful businesswoman, with an active family life full of laughter. She is a trustworthy and loyal friend and has a sarcastic sense of humour.

Of least importance to Sonia is that she is a victim of child sexual abuse. She listed this last as, whilst she knows that the abuse has affected and shaped certain aspects of her, it does not define her.

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