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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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Daisy feels more should be done to meet the mental health needs of victims and survivors

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Daisy’s early recollections of her childhood are that her parents cared for her emotionally and physically. But when she was 10 or 11 years old, she began to experience fear and to develop obsessive compulsive disorder.

After talking to a school friend, she realised her life wasn’t as normal as she had thought and that her grandfather had been sexually abusing her since she was very young.

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Colin says ‘You always carry that stigma’ but has spoken out now after many years

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Neglected by his mother and sexually abused throughout his childhood by adults who were supposed to care for him, Colin is striving to come to terms with his experiences.

Colin says that part of this process, with help from his wife and a support worker, is talking about feelings he suppressed for many years, and speaking out to the Inquiry.

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Chloe, sexually abused by a family friend and curate at the church, struggled with the legal process

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Publicity about child sex abuse cases prompted Chloe to report incidents that occurred when she was a young teenager. This resulted in a successful prosecution, but the abuse has had a significant effect on her mental health and the court case was very difficult for her.

Chloe has a recollection of sexual abuse by a family friend that occurred when she was between the ages of five and 11 years, but she cannot remember the details.

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Jack says ‘I hated everyone, nobody cared and I was abusing solvents and truanting’

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Placed in care due to a family break-up, Jack’s vulnerability was exploited by a worker in the care system. Years later a gesture of kindness from a teacher was a turning point in his chaotic life that helped him reassess his view of the world.

Jack tried to report his abuser, but his experience was frustrating and unsatisfactory.

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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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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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Joanne says ‘like pebbles thrown into a pond, the ripples keep on getting bigger’

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Joanne was first sexually abused by a neighbour as a young child and by others as she grew older. Responses to her suffering by many of the adults in authority she encountered included blame (of her), unkindness, indifference and inappropriate advice.

During her childhood, Joanne was intermittently placed in care. Her mother suffered from mental illness and was an alcoholic. She had a memory of childhood sexual abuse by a neighbour when she was a young child, and now knows that a social services case report described her in the following terms: ‘Joanne was wilful and defiant, sexually precocious … indecently assaulted by a man who was later convicted.’

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Groomed and sexually abused in the cadets, Sonny felt trapped and alone

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Looking back on his early years, Sonny can see that he was a vulnerable child. His mother was an alcoholic and had mental health issues, he regularly witnessed domestic violence and received no parenting.

At the age of 13 years he joined the cadets and would train with them regularly. An ex-serviceman called Logan would hang around outside the cadet building and talk to some of the boys and the cadet trainers. He began giving some of the boys lifts home.

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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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30 years after she was raped by a teacher, Jackie reported it to the police

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Jackie was doing well at school, socially and academically, until an event happened that had devastating consequences on her life. When she was in her early teens a teacher at her school raped her and it was 30 years before she was able to report it to the police.

The rape had a profoundly negative and lasting effect on her life, and she has clear views on how investigation processes and the judicial system could be improved to support victims more effectively.

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Tony still lives with the vivid memories of the sexual abuse he suffered by a priest

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When Tony’s mother left the family home, he was placed in a religious children’s home where he found himself at the mercy of the manager and her relative, a priest who sexually abused him.

Tony is not aware that any checks were made on his welfare by anyone in authority and he felt unable to tell his father, who admired the priest.

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