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Kit Shellam

I had a tough boyhood. I was born with cerebral palsy. My father died when I was four. From the age of six and a half I was sexually abused. Throughout my childhood I also suffered from neglect and emotional and physical abuse. I lived with menace and fear daily for most of my childhood years.

At age 11, I went to a boarding school for children with physical disabilities. I was also sexually abused there. I left the school at age 16 with very little meaningful education and any life chances virtually extinguished.

In my twenties I took a degree as a mature student. When I returned to my home town I was still unable to get work. I kept on looking and five years later, I got a job in a supported factory. My first job was putting screws into plastic bags.  Some years later I ended up running this factory and the associated disability employment programmes for the Local Authority. While doing this management role I also worked hard to achieve a diploma in management studies.

A number of years later I obtained a job in a neighbouring county running a similar operation. However, this senior management role and business was about three times the size so I took a strategic management approach to improve the business. It was challenging, but I always revelled in making the business work well with cohesive staff groups while ironing out those little wrinkles of dysfunction.

Nowadays I live in rural Herefordshire and it is here I founded the 17 Percent of Men to support men in the county who, like me, were sexually abused in childhood. Men are still reluctant to disclose their boyhood abuse so need support when they do so. In rural counties like Herefordshire, you can find those who deny that sexual abuse happens in their part of England.

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