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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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April only spoke out about being abused because she feared for her mother’s safety

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The man who abused April ‘weaseled his way into my family, and it took me seven years to speak’.

She now works with children who are the same age she was when her stepfather started sexually abusing her. She says, ‘I am constantly thinking that was me’.

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Maya feels children abused by family members fear they will damage the family if they speak out

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Maya describes a difficult family life, with a violent father and a sexually abusive stepfather.

This left her vulnerable to abuse by others. Her awareness of sexual abuse makes her fearful for the safety of her children.

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Carrie kept quiet about being abused because her mother was dependent on the abuser

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Carrie was abused in her home by a man who first lodged with her family, then began a relationship with her mother.

He threatened her that he would leave them if she told anyone about the abuse. Carrie knew her mother depended on him financially and emotionally, and was terrified of causing any upset.

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Diana would love to be free of the impact of her abuse but feels it is like an ‘internal tattoo’

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Diana was fostered from a very early age. She was put in a long-term placement with a couple who also fostered on a short-term basis.

Ill-treatment and abuse at the hands of the foster parents have caused her a lifetime of physical and mental health problems.

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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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Madison says ‘I never wanted to go home ... it was supposed to be my refuge’

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Madison was brought up in a large family as a Jehovah’s Witness. 

She was physically and sexually abused by family members but the closed nature of their religion ensured there was no intervention from outside authorities.

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Eliza says ‘There needs to be a shift in attitude to what people call “attention seeking”’

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Eliza’s mother was in a relationship with a man who physically and emotionally abused her and her two children. To escape him, the family went to live in a hostel when Eliza was a young teenager.

She says ‘I was looking for attention … for someone to want me’. A man twice her age took advantage of her vulnerability and sexually abused her.

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Zoe’s caring responsibilities and erratic family life left her open to grooming by older men

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From a young age Zoe took on caring responsibilities beyond her years. With a school and family life that was erratic at times, she was left vulnerable to grooming by older men.

Zoe’s father had mental health issues. Her mother struggled to cope with the changes in her relationship with her husband and began to use alcohol. Zoe remembers feeling the need to protect her parents. She had a sibling, but she says they preferred to ‘do their own thing and didn’t take on caring responsibilities’. Zoe feels she did not have much support – although services were working with her father there was no provision for the rest of the family. Other than an older relative, Zoe had no one she felt able to talk to.

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Publicity about a high-profile abuser encouraged Travis to report what happened to him as a child

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Travis was an only child of parents who both abused alcohol. Despite this, he says that he felt ‘looked after’ by his father.

He was taken into care when he was about five years old and sexually abused by a male member of staff. He reported the abuse decades later and the perpetrator was convicted.

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Having seen her care records, Carol cannot believe that they did not see what was going on

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Carol was put on the child protection register due to neglect. She was sexually abused by men of two generations in her foster family and subsequently by staff and residents in a care home. She tried to tell social workers about the sexual abuse but was never believed.

Carol’s dad had left their family home and her mum used to leave her on her own to go to the pub, often returning drunk with men.

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Kieran believes that police forces should be better trained to deal with non-recent sexual abuse cases

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Kieran has early memories of a good family life, but after the death of his father he endured abuse and violence.

A few years after Kieran’s father died, his mother met a new partner who moved into the family home with his two sons, Lewis and Carl. They were in their late teens and had been in trouble with the authorities.

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A dance instructor held in high regard by Beatrice’s parents sexually abused their daughter

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Beatrice and her family took part in dance lessons in their local community.

The instructor sexually abused Beatrice but her mother refused to take any action. Beatrice believes this was because she did not want to disrupt the family’s social activities.

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