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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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‘Abuse is classless and all children should be believed’ says Gerry

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Gerry lived with his parents and two older brothers. He went to a local preparatory school and he describes being ‘picked on by the masters’ and how this affected his self-esteem.

He experienced more extreme bullying from other pupils when he was sent to boarding school, and he believes this may have made him vulnerable to the sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of one of the teachers.

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The headmaster who sexually abused Tim was moved to other schools and evidence was destroyed by the church

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Tim recalls how pleased he and his family were when he was allocated a place at the local church school. He says the headmaster ‘took a shine’ to him – he chose Tim to join the school choir and often called him to his office to read aloud and take tests.

But it was not long before the nature of these sessions changed. While Tim was reading, the headmaster began touching him inappropriately, before sending him back to class. Tim did not understand what was going on.

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Tallulah says ‘For a long while I wasn't even sure if what happened to me was “proper” abuse’

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When Tallulah was a young teenager, she was sexually abused on holiday by a family friend.

She gives an eloquent account of how for a child under such circumstances, understanding abuse and boundaries can be very difficult and confusing.

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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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Dawn calls for restorative justice and for sexual abusers to acknowledge their guilt

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Many years of regular sexual abuse, that began when she was nine years old, have left Dawn with a long-term condition that continues to affect her life.

An attempt to get justice against the perpetrator was not successful and Dawn has an intense wish for him to acknowledge the impact of his actions.

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After he was convicted of sexually abusing her, Erin’s grandfather was welcomed back into the family

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Erin was sexully abused by her paternal grandfather over a period of about eight years, in his home and her own.

The sexual abuse began when Erin was a small child. It usually occurred when her grandfather was babysitting or when she was staying at her grandparents’ home.

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Zara says her abuser was at least ‘buying us school uniforms and clothes’

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When Zara was about five years old, she and her sister were taken into care because their mother, who was an alcoholic, was incapable of looking after them.

A family acquaintance took advantage of their need for basic care and necessities and groomed them for abuse.

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Karyn, sexually abused by her stepfather and his sons, wants the lasting effects of abuse to be recognised

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When her mother’s boyfriend, Brian, moved into the family home, Karyn’s childhood was devastated by terror and physical and sexual violence.

She is still enduring the severe effects of this trauma on every aspect of her health and wellbeing.

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Felicia says the belief that she was a girl and should do as she was told was ingrained in her mind

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When she was about nine years old, Felicia struck up a friendship with an older girl. Ganivia had a disability and didn’t have many friends, and she invited Felicia to her house. But Ganivia was being sexually abused by her father, and she groomed her new friend to be abused by him too.

Ganivia’s parents had separated and she lived with her father, Maurice. He showed the girls pornography, saying ‘this is what women do’ and then touched them. Ganivia joined in with the abuse and Felicia says this made her feel it was what was expected of her too. 

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Victoria was abused by her uncle, but still saw her role as protecting her vulnerable mother

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Victoria was in her 30s when her memories surfaced of the sexual abuse she was subjected to as child. The trigger for this was being told by her mother that her uncle had been charged with child sexual abuse.

Previously, she says her only recollection of childhood had been a vision of complete darkness and a large man’s hand. On hearing the news about her uncle, she began to experience flashbacks, seeing clear images of herself in a church and reliving the experience of being sexually abused. 

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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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Diane was sexually abused by a teacher and left feeling anxious and suicidal

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A teacher at Diane’s school exploited his position of power and authority to sexually abuse her. From then until now, the emotions and effects this caused for her have included feeling flattered, confused, depressed, anxious and suicidal.

Diane relates that when she started senior school, she became friendly with one of the teachers, Mr Jones.

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