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Frederick says ‘I was denied my justice’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Frederick never reported that when he was eight years old, he was sexually abused by his teacher.

Decades later, when he felt he might be ready to speak out, he discovered the perpetrator had died a few months earlier. 

Frederick grew up in the 1970s. His parents were having financial difficulties, so the family had to move house and his mother took a job that started early in the morning.

He would be dropped off at school where he would wait in a room, playing with toys. No other children arrived at that time.

Frederick says he was quite happy with this arrangement, until his teacher, Mr Taylor, started coming to find him in the room. The teacher would hug Frederick from behind, and then put his hand inside the boy’s trousers and sexually abuse him. Frederick remembers how Mr Taylor’s hands would shake as he did this.

The teacher would stop the abuse when he heard the other children coming into the school.

Mr Taylor would do inappropriate things to Frederick and some of the other boys quite openly in the classroom. He would hug and stroke them when they took their books to be marked at the front of the classroom. 

He remembers the children would look at each other when he did this, but never said anything to each other about it. ‘It was the unspoken thing in school, that you don't be alone with him’ he says.

Although he was a young child, Frederick worked out what seemed to him to be the best way of managing what was happening. He says he didn’t want to tell anyone ‘and risk being singled out or punished for telling “lies”’. He told his mother he didn’t want to be taken to school and he started walking and waiting in the park for his friends to join him.

Frederick says he felt uncomfortable and knew it was wrong when Mr Taylor was sexually abusing him, but he remembers his overriding sense that as a child you should not challenge an adult. ‘You don't answer back, you don't question people. Adults are never wrong.’ He adds that at that age, he would have had no idea of the concept of sexual abuse.

It wasn’t until Frederick was in his mid-teens that he understood he had been sexually abused. The realisation had a profound effect on him and he became withdrawn and very wary of other people. 

He adds ‘I had a hard time trusting my parents for a while; you always think that they will protect you’. He felt this particularly towards his mother, because it seemed she had ‘delivered’ him to the abuse. ‘Probably not fairly, but it’s the way I felt’ he says.

When he became a parent, Frederick says he was extremely cautious about leaving his children with anyone, and he feels he was able to keep them safer than he was as a child.  

Frederick’s primary school was small and he wonders how the other staff could not have known or suspected that Mr Taylor was abusing children.

He believes there should be stricter safeguarding in small schools and institutions because there is less ‘peer regulation’ and perpetrators are drawn to places where they feel that they are least likely to be caught.

Frederick says that although there have been many times when he has had ‘dark thoughts’ about his experiences as a child, he feels he developed great resilience and inner strength throughout his life.

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