Skip to main content

IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.



In the children’s home, Gerrard says, ‘No one ever smiled, it was all angry violent faces’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

As an unwanted baby, Gerrard spent his entire childhood and adolescence in children’s homes, where he suffered continual cruelty as well as physical and sexual abuse.

He says ‘I don’t think I discussed it once with any of my friends, even though it was happening to every single one of us’.

Gerrard was taken into care when he was a newborn baby. He now knows that he was born as a result of an affair between his mother and a West Indian man, and his mother’s husband did not want him in the house.

He believes from his records that he was well cared for in the first home he was sent to.

When he was about six years old, he was sent to another children’s home. The residents were all teenagers and Gerrard often could not tell them apart from the staff. ‘It was absolute hell’ he says. ‘I was physically assaulted within hours of arriving.’

He remembers different men visiting the home who did not work there. They were referred to as ‘uncles’ and often took boys out and brought them back drunk.

One night, Gerrard was sexually assaulted by one of these men, Davo, and two boys from the home. He remembers Davo being a ‘posh man’ who had a sports car. From then on, he says, he was regularly sexually and physically abused by ‘a constant stream of men and older boys’. 

He was groped, and forced to touch them and perform oral sex. He remembers being held down while someone masturbated over his face. Gerrard says he froze, terrified, during the abuse. ‘I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was either.’

Gerrard tried to run away a few times, but he was caught and taken back by different people, who never asked him why he had tried to escape. He was in the home for about three years and never went to school during this time. ‘It was a bad place. I never understood what I was doing there’ he says.

When he was about 10 years old, Gerrard was sent to a private children’s home run by a couple called Mason and Peggy. They lived a lavish lifestyle while the children they were supposed to care for were left hungry, exploited and abused.

The social worker who took him there just dropped him off and drove away. 

The owners of the home were overtly racist. ‘They hated black people’ Gerrard says, and they constantly verbally abused him for his ethnicity. Because he was bright, they called him ‘know-all’ and ‘smart arse’. They also subjected him to extreme physical abuse, beating him violently. 

He quickly realised that most of the children in the home were sexually active. He was sexually abused by a boy about the same age. He says ‘I know it sounds odd, but I hold no anger towards him. He wasn’t violent, he cuddled me’. 

He continues that the sexual abuse seemed preferable to the violent abuse. ‘Then you wonder “Does that mean that you are culpable to some extent because you haven’t resisted with sufficient force?”’

He describes how one member of staff would regularly force his tongue into the boys’ mouths. 

Gerrard ran away several times, but was taken back, even when he went to a police station to report what was happening in the home. He never saw a social worker. ‘I didn’t get a single visit … I was trapped entirely.’

Having not attended school for several years, Gerrard was allocated a place as a day pupil at a private boarding school. He doesn’t know how this came about. Here he was subjected to sexual abuse by two of the teachers.

By this stage, Gerrard says, he was so used to sexual abuse he accepted it as normal. He loved learning and ‘gobbled up information’. But he was the only child at the school who was in care and he was overwhelmed to realise that some children experienced normal family life. He attempted to take his own life.  

On his 16th birthday, with no warning at all, Gerrard was told that he was leaving care. He was handed a carrier bag with a pair of trousers in it and shown the front door. 

For the next two years he was homeless, but he continued going to school and never told his friends.

He went to London to try and find his family. A man befriended him and offered him a bed for the night. In the morning Gerrard woke up and realised he had been drugged and sexually assaulted. 

Some years later, Gerrard was contacted by police investigating allegations of abuse at the home run by Mason and Peggy. He gave a statement but Mason died before the case came to court. Action was later taken against the council who sent him to the home, and he received some compensation but no apology. 

Gerrard shared that the physical abuse he suffered was so extreme that in a medical examination later in his life it was discovered that he had nearly 20 untreated fractures.  

He says ‘I fluctuate between sad and incredibly angry’. He has accessed his files and they contain many distressing details of the terrible way he was treated.

These include an instruction in one home that no one should be allowed to adopt him when he was a small child, because his good looks and thick dark hair attracted potential adoptive parents to the home. He comments ‘Then when you get too big no one wants to adopt you’.

He suffers with poor mental health, has had a breakdown and has attempted suicide. He drinks heavily. He has been single for many years and says he has never been able to separate violence and anger from intimacy. He says ‘I am difficult and argumentative’. He has had counselling but says he used up his ‘quota’ on the NHS long before it made any difference.

He gained a degree but is unable to maintain employment. He comments ‘I want to make people proud of me, but there’s no one to be proud of me’.

Gerrard says he tries not to condemn, but he finds it hard to forgive the people who let him down. ‘I was so damaged and there’s never been any apology’ he says.

He emphasises the need to listen to children with sympathy and understanding, to keep children’s homes small, and to inspect them regularly and without prior warning.

He would like the police to be far more sensitive than they were with him, when they make contact with people who they believe may have been abused.

Gerrard is concerned that many foster parents take in children for financial gain. 

Finally, he says he would like there to be more public debate about child sexual abuse.

Gerrard does voluntary work to support youngsters who have been abused, although he does not share his experiences with them.

He finds great comfort in his pets, which are very important to him. 

Back to top