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Jonny

Jonny

Jonny says ‘It took me a long time to recognise that what happened to me was major’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Jonny was groomed online by a man who initially pretended to be a teenager.

When they met in person, the man raped him.

Jonny grew up with his parents, who worked hard. By the time he was in his teens, he knew he was gay. But, he says, being gay was ‘more hidden back then’, and when he was in his early teens, he started looking online at gay teen chat rooms. 

He says it helped to make friends who ‘knew what I was going through’. However, everyone he chatted with was a long way away, except for one person who lived in the same town. They spoke online for a long time before Jonny discovered this person wasn’t a teenager, but he carried on chatting to him because he was local. 

Jonny relates ‘On my birthday, the man said he would love to give me a birthday present. It seemed harmless’. He adds that on reflection, he can see that he was very naive, but still, he arranged to meet the man in a public place to talk. He adds ‘I was a strong guy … no one would mess with me’.

He enjoyed talking to the man, and he liked his birthday present. But he says, ‘I was not interested in him sexually and was still a virgin’. Another similar meeting followed, with another gift for Jonny. 

The third time they met, the man asked Jonny to go with him to his flat, because he had forgotten to bring Jonny’s present. He adds that again, he can now see it was not a good decision to go.

In the flat, the man started joking and making innuendos. Jonny made it clear he was not interested and at that point, the man became violent. ‘I froze and didn’t fight back … I had lots of bruising … he hit and raped me’, says Jonny.

He describes going home ‘in a bit of a trance. It was painful down there and I didn’t tell anyone about it’. He had lots of bruising on his back and chest area but he blamed it on playing sports.

Jonny says ‘From that point, my life fell apart’. He got involved with bad groups. He started taking legal highs and drinking a lot. He had always liked school and been popular but now he stopped playing sport, started truanting and was ‘nearly kicked out of 6th form’. 

Jonny says he felt he had really bad depression, and he took tablets to try and end his life. ‘I hid it from my family … I was supposed to be a strong man.’ He went on his own to the hospital.

A teacher noticed Jonny’s distress and referred him to the crisis team, but unfortunately the crisis worker did not seem effective or empathetic. She told Jonny he should have gone to the police, and said she would fill out a form, but was ‘not sure where it goes’.

His teacher also organised counselling for him but after his experience with the crisis team, he says he didn’t talk about the rape. ‘It would be another silly form … it was better to push the feelings aside’ he says. But he adds that he believes the teacher saved his life.

About 10 years later, Jonny had a breakdown. He was having flashbacks every day, and was having difficulty working and maintaining his relationship. But his workplace supported him to get psychologist support, which he says has helped him a great deal. 

Jonny believes firmly that if someone discloses they have been sexually abused as a child, they should be supported with empathy. He also thinks that specific processes, that are easy and clear to access, need to be in place.

He says the rape ‘ruined my teenage years and nearly ruined my adult life’. But he adds, he has good support networks, and he has been able to talk about the abuse he suffered with his partner.  

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