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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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Charlotte sought help from an authority figure who exploited her vulnerability, becoming her abuser

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Charlotte grew up in a strict, religious family. From a young age she was sexually abused by her father and other abusers. When she found the courage to report the abuse during confession to a priest, Father Callum, she hoped he would help her.

Instead, Father Callum approached her father and they began sexually abusing her together. Charlotte recalls that the abuse became more brutal after Father Callum became involved.

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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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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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In a secure unit, Ronald felt safe for the first time – but this did not last long

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Ronald was sexually abused by two female family members and by a series of men in different institutions.

He has sought help to overcome his trauma, and to be a good parent to his daughter.

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Scott says that a spell in prison was easier than his time in a children’s care home

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When Scott was six months old, he and his two siblings were placed in a convent care home run by nuns. Their parents’ marriage had broken down and their mum had left.

A relative removed the two older siblings from the convent, but Scott was left there until he was 16. He was subjected to harsh punishments in the home and sexual abuse by a man who claimed to be helping with his health issues.

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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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Grace felt she did what she had to do to be loved

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Throughout Grace’s childhood her dad was in poor health and her mum was vulnerable. Despite that, she describes her younger self as a typical teenager.

She attended an all-girls school. When she was a young teenager, a man called Kyle drove past her school in his car and offered to take Grace for a drink.

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Nicholas describes how painful sexual abuse was, but ‘you didn’t say in those days’

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Nicholas was beaten and sexually abused by a sadistic teacher at a religious school.

When he told another teacher about the physical beating he suffered, he was told he must have deserved it.

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Lee was groomed and sexually abused by a Scout leader who exploited his loneliness and vulnerability

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Lee transitioned to male as an adult. He was sexually abused as a young teenage girl. Lee describes his former self as a vulnerable child, who was bullied in school, and had no friends.

He was unhappy at home and says he felt he had no adult advocates. He found comfort in reading and at school he was placed on both the gifted and talented track and the learning difficulties track. He began self-harming by cutting around the age of 11 years but hid this from his parents.

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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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Jonathan feels he disassociated his current life from his childhood

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Jonathan’s parents lived abroad, and he was sent to boarding school from a young age. There, he was abused on three occasions by Lawrence, who worked at the school as a cricket coach.

Although he says therapy is having a positive effect, it has taken him many years to find the courage to seek help.

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At the approved school Tommy was sent to, abuse was used to keep children in line

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Tommy was sent to an approved school in the 1960s, enduring separation from his beloved siblings, and physical and sexual abuse. He was harshly punished when he tried to take solace in innocent pastimes.

Tommy grew up in a large family. He describes his father as very caring – he worked hard but always had time for his children.

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