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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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Prompted by news about the football and Savile cases, Dan spoke for the first time after more than 60 years

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Dan was born during the war. His mother was a single parent and he was adopted at birth by a couple whom he describes as ‘lovely’ parents, and he says he had ‘a great childhood’.

Sadly his adoptive father died when Dan was still young. He suspects that the lack of a father figure in his life made him vulnerable to the sexual abuse he was subjected to by a Scout leader.

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Susan feigned symptoms so she could stay in hospital and escape sexual abuse at home

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Susan describes growing up in a ‘dysfunctional family’, where it was common for family members to put each other down and swear at one another. The relationship between her parents was extremely violent and the police were frequently called to deal with incidents between them.

As a little girl, she adored her brother, but he began sexually abusing her, and she still suffers the lasting effects of this trauma.

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Agatha describes being on ‘high alert … in a state of constant anxiety’ throughout her fostering

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Agatha’s mother had mental health difficulties and found it difficult to care for her children. Because of this, Agatha and her siblings were placed in care.

She was sexually abused by the sons and father in her foster family, and physically and emotionally abused by the mother. She finds it hard to believe the family was paid to care for her and her sister: ‘They totally abused their position of trust.’

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Robert’s struggle for recognition of his abuse keeps him ‘in the past and feeling abused’

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Robert was sexually abused by his father but for years he suppressed the memory and impact of this by throwing himself into his work.

A revelation by his brother that he had been abused in the same way caused Robert to have a breakdown. His attempts to gain redress through official channels have been thwarted by what he describes as series of obstructive and inappropriate actions by people in authority.

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Peter was abused by teachers and other boys in a residential school for the deaf

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Peter is deaf. As a child he was sent to a boarding school for the deaf because, he says, his parents believed he would fare better in this environment.

But their trust in the school was betrayed by teachers who sexually abused their son and other boys.

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A love of music led Dean, a gifted boy, to be sexually abused

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As a boy, Dean liked to sing. He gained in place in a school as a boarder where he joined the choir. The choirmaster used to take the boys to sing in the cathedral and Dean thought that singing in the cathedral was like ‘being in heaven’.

But there were two difficult things about the school that Dean accepted as being normal. One was the routine and intense physical abuse, usually caning for very minor matters. The second was the sexual intimacy between students.

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Mia was sexually abused by her cousin and groomed by an older man, becoming pregnant as a young teenager

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Mia’s parents divorced when she was young, and she lived with her mother. But later, rejection by her mother and stepfather led Mia into a chaotic life, abuse by an older man and pregnancy as a young teenager.

After the divorce, an older cousin would babysit Mia when her mother went out, and on these occasions would share her bed.

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Adam was trapped in a cycle of abuse by a highly manipulative groomer in a position of authority

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Adam says he had a brilliant upbringing in a supportive family with two siblings and ‘great parents’

He and his brother attended the same secondary school. One of the teachers, Mr Baker, ran an activity centre nearby where groups of boys from the school were regularly taken for short breaks. 

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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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A scoutmaster’s position as ‘part of the family’ enabled him to sexually abuse Shaun for years

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Shaun was abused as a child on multiple occasions by his scoutmaster, Frank, who was a friend of Shaun’s parents.

He says it was not until he was an adult that he understood how wrong the abuse was, because abusers ’play with the heads’ of their victims and make them think the behaviour is ‘normal’.

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Janine says ‘I thought that was how daddies showed love ... I scrubbed myself to get rid of the feeling’

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Janine describes a childhood of fear, neglect and sexual abuse. Her mother had mental health difficulties and was emotionally unavailable and her father was an alcoholic.

The sexual abuse began when she was five years old and she has no clear memory of life before it.

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Michael talked at the Truth Project for the first time about being sexually abused

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Michael says that when he heard about the Truth Project it reminded him of Archbishop Desmond Tutu encouraging the public hearings of human rights abuses in post-apartheid Africa.

He believes it is invaluable for people to be able to speak out about the past, and he thinks it would be wrong of him, as a victim and survivor of sexual abuse, not to share his experience. He hopes he can better inform people and help protect children in the future.

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