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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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Jennie was sexually abused in a boarding school and says they should be banned

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With her parents overseas, Jennie was left in a boarding school during the 1980s, with no respite from a regime of harsh punishments and a predatory headteacher.

The severe sexual abuse Jennie suffered has left her with many difficult issues she struggles to resolve, and a conviction that boarding schools should be banned.

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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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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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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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Aalia feels she was traumatised a second time by the criminal justice system

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Years of sexual abuse that began when she was a small girl led Aalia to obsessively self‑harm. Years later she endured the ordeal of multiple trials.

Aalia was around seven or eight years old when she started going to the local mosque with her sibling. Soon she began going on her own, arriving early and waiting downstairs. A new mosque representative noticed her and suggested she should say her prayers early in his quarters. She thought this odd but agreed. He would stand next to her and compliment her. This went on for a few weeks.

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For Lance, being away from the ‘safe haven of home’ compounded the impact of his abuse

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Lance was 11 years old when he won a scholarship to a boarding school.

He was subjected to sexual abuse and bullying that has affected his life and relationships for many years, but has taken many steps to understand and recover from his experiences.

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Ashley says ‘If I was asked, I would have said, and it would have stopped’ – but nobody bothered to ask

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Ashley was a young teenager when he began to knock on neighbours’ doors seeking to earn money by doing odd jobs. One neighbour, Malcolm, paid him well for some gardening and asked him to come back. When Ashley returned, Malcolm took him inside the house and sexually abused him.

The abuse has had far-reaching effects on his life, including the breakdown of his relationships with his children, which he deeply regrets.

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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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Ben says ‘Looking at the map of my abuse, everybody knew … nobody stopped it.’

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As a young boy, Ben loved his local church and joined the choir, often performing at concerts.

He thought the choirmaster, Robin, seemed like a ‘nice, modern chap’ and was pleased when Robin invited him to his home to see a train set.

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Young people over the age of consent are still vulnerable, says Monica

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Monica was in her mid-teens and had just started sixth form when she entered into what she thought was a ‘relationship’ with a teacher at her school.

She recalls how flattered she was by the attention; it was exciting, she says. She thinks that most teachers knew and that her abuser was told to end the affair by the senior staff. He didn’t, and no other action was taken, and she stayed in his class.

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Justin thinks that religion is a factor in sexual abuse

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Justin grew up in a large Christian family. His parents had to work long hours to support the family, and he recalls that his father did not seem to be around very much when he was younger.

He and his brothers attended a Catholic school. When Justin was eight years old, a sports teacher began to abuse him. He is now aware that this teacher also abused his two brothers but did not know this at the time.

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Cyril suffered sexual abuse in children’s homes in the years following World War II

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Cyril grew up in a large family. His father had mental health problems after the war and Cyril knows that he was taken into care at the age of one, as were two of his sisters, each to different places.  

In the late 1940s he was sent to a children’s home. From there many children were migrated to Australia. Cyril only just escaped this fate as his father refused to give permission for his son to be sent abroad.

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