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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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It is a source of great sadness to Patrick that being abused has damaged his relationships

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From a young age, Patrick attended a residential school. He tells how he was abused by Angus, an older pupil.

Angus would come into Patrick’s dormitory bed at night. In his innocence, the younger boy initially thought perhaps they had to sleep together because there were not enough beds at the school for every pupil to have their own.

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Lily was stereotyped as a ‘sexual predator’ as a young child by adults who should have protected her

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When Lily was young she and her siblings were placed into care, but not all in the same place, much to her disappointment. For the first few years, she and some of her family were in a religious care institution where they did not experience any abuse.

But she and one of her siblings were moved to another place, which she describes as a ‘workhouse’ rather than a home. She adds it was ‘cold’, ‘religious’, there was ‘no warmth’ and living there was a matter of ‘survival of the fittest’.

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Fin was sexually abused as a boy sailor in the Navy in the 1950s

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Fin says that until the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal emerged, he felt he had put the events that happened to him as a teenager ‘more or less to bed’, but now describes how being sexually abused has had a lasting effect on him.

He joined the navy in the 1950s as a boy sailor. The officer in charge of the sailing school praised his talent and put him in a position of responsibility.

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Joe blames himself for not fighting off the man who raped him in a custodial institution

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Mistreated and neglected as a child at home, Joe committed a range of petty thefts, sometimes to feed himself. He built up a record of offences and was sent to a residential institution where his experience was very positive. He says ‘I absolutely adored it’.

Sadly, this respite from his difficult life ended when he was sent to a custodial institution. Joe relates how the day he arrived, he was given cleaning duties and told to clean the corridor.

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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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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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Clive’s life was badly affected after being sexually abused by a stranger in the public toilets

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Sexually abused by a stranger when he was a small boy, Clive has struggled with the psychological and emotional effects ever since.

Clive really wants people to understand that for those who have been sexually abused: ‘It doesn’t need to be stigmatised as some sort of disability, but it does need to be recognised that this will have a lifelong impact.’

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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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Dylan lost his faith when he was sexually abused by a curate, who was protected by the church

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Dylan grew up in a family of active church members. But the sexual abuse he and others were subjected to by a curate and the inadequate response from the church have caused him extreme distress and turned him away from his religion.

The sexual abuse happened to Dylan when he was a boy. In his teenage years, he saw a news report about his abuser, Jacob, who had been convicted of an offence against another boy. This prompted Dylan to disclose his own abuse to his parents.

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Discovering that her young daughter had been sexually abused triggered Pamela’s own memories of abuse

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Pamela describes her horror when she discovered that her young child was being sexually abused by an organised group. This revelation, devastating in itself, also triggered a flood of dreadful memories and nightmares for Pamela.

Her early life was loveless and defined by brutality and neglect. As a baby she was placed in a residential nursery, after the death of her mother. She later lived with her step family as a young child until her early teenage years. She remembers beatings, starvation and neglect, and how unhappy she was.

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Hayley was abused multiple times in care and felt abused all over again by the justice system

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Hayley says her parents ‘did not want me’ and her father was physically abusive. She and her sisters spent their childhoods in and out of care, where she suffered more mistreatment. She thinks now that she would have been safer if she had stayed at home with her father.

She remembers that, as a young child, she was sexually abused in one children’s home by a male member of staff, David. Every week for a about year he took her to a different part of the home to ’do things’. Sometimes he was joined by another man.

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Cliff says children in care need to be looked after and listened to

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Cliff was arrested as a teenager for petty theft. As a result, social services obtained an interim care order and he was put into care and placed in a children’s home.

There were six boys in the dormitory in the home. One of them began bullying Cliff and made him perform sex acts on him. This abuse happened both in and around the home.

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