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Experiences Shared

These are some of the experiences of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project by victims and survivors. All names and identifying details have been changed.

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Claudia and her siblings were subjected to extreme violence, sexual abuse and control by their father

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After the violence, control and sexual abuse was reported, several adults said they were ‘not surprised’.

Claudia grew up in a very large family. She says that her father kept his children isolated from friends and family, telling them that ‘the only safe place is home’.

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Laakia believes that when she was being abused, she showed ‘clues after clues, but no one understood’

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Laakia was sexually and physically abused by her father throughout her childhood.

She was treated in hospital for injuries, and says her behaviour at school became ‘feral’, but no one picked up that she was being abused.

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Harlie endured years of grooming, control, coercion and sexual abuse by a martial arts instructor

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After her martial arts instructor manipulated and sexually abused her, Harlie considered suicide at the age of nine, and still lives with many impacts that significantly affect her.

Harlie describes a difficult family life; her father was violent, her mother had mental health problems and neither parent showed much interest in Harlie and her siblings.

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If she hadn’t told her mum she was sexually abused Tayla ‘ wouldn’t have known how little she cared about me’

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Tayla’s overwhelming childhood memory is of not being loved or cared for by her parents or brothers.

Her violent mother made it clear she did not want to hear about any of Tayla’s problems. This was confirmed by her response when Tayla tried to tell her she had been sexually abused.

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Cole says ‘If just one person had listened to me ...’

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As a child, Cole was subjected to appalling physical cruelty by his father. 

After his mother left home, Cole’s new stepmother sexually abused him, but no one would believe this was happening.

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Douglas says ‘Victims need justice – it is not about money’

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Douglas describes a childhood of bullying, fear and sexual abuse at the hands of those who should have cared for and protected him.

As a young boy, Douglas sustained a brain injury. As a result, his behaviour changed and his mother found it hard to manage him. She approached social services and Douglas was placed in a residential assessment centre. He remembers trying to run away on the day he first arrived and being placed alone in a secure cell.

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Samuel’s family were part of a religion where everything was about control, manipulation and gratification

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Samuel was born into a religious organisation, which he describes as a cult, that subjected him to sexual, physical and mental abuse.

He says the organisation focused selectively on parts of the Bible concerning discipline and, in his opinion, took this to the extreme. He describes life as ‘harsh’ for him and the other children in the religious group.

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Katie-Leigh says she let people hurt her in the hope one of them would love her

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Katie-Leigh grew up in the 1970s. Her father was in the armed forces.

He sexually abused Katie-Leigh and this set her on a self-destructive path that began with her taking an overdose at the age of seven.

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John describes how sexual abuse ‘tainted’ something that was precious to him

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John was about 11 years old when his parents separated. 

He joined a local Scouts group, and found solace in friendships and activities. But three adult leaders exploited his need for care and attention, and sexually abused him.

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Kirsten says school staff should receive training on sexual abuse and trauma

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Kirsten was lonely as an adolescent and this left her vulnerable to grooming and sexual abuse by an older man.

When she made it obvious she was self-harming, staff at her school said she was attention-seeking.

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Jessica was told that ‘people like you’ do not get justice

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During the 1980s, when she was aged between 12 and 16 years, Jessica was sexually and physically abused at various children’s homes.

She describes how she has fought and campaigned for justice and transparency for many years because she wants to prevent others going through the same experiences. She says she will not rest until light is finally shone on the sexual abuse perpetrated in the area where she grew up.

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Isaiah says he was ‘fearful most of the time’ when he was young

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Isaiah was born during the Second World War. He describes his father as ‘a horrible man’ who was cruel to his mother, and evicted her and her four children from the house.

When he was six years old, Isaiah was placed in a Barnado’s home. He endured a harsh regime and sexual abuse by a matron.

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