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Marc was abused in the Scouts. He says ‘no one told their parents – you thought you were being grown up’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Marc was groomed and sexually abused when he was a teenager by a Scout leader. 

He can now see how manipulative and cunning the abuser was in the way he targeted certain boys for abuse.

Marc had already been on several Scout trips before he and a group of boys were invited away with just one leader. He comments that the previous trips had been larger, and very well organised, with several leaders.

Although it was unusual to go on a weekend away with a smaller group, he saw no reason not to go. The Scout leader was in his early 20s and Marc says that he and his friends admired him and ‘saw him as more of a friend’. 

On the trip, the leader and the boys shared one tent. Marc says he can’t remember exactly how the abuse started because ‘he made it fun, so you don’t notice it happening’.

The leader began buying the boys alcohol, and even let Marc drive his car. Next, he started showing the boys pornographic magazines, and gradually got them to start touching each other. This escalated to the abuser showing them ‘how to do things’ with each other and with him.

Over the next couple of years, the leader continued abusing the group of boys on camping trips. Marc explains how he exploited the age and sexual curiosity of the boys. He says ‘You knew it was wrong but you wanted to do more of it, so you didn’t say anything’.

He did not tell his parents what the leader was doing, and he doesn’t think any of the others did. He describes the abuse as a ‘perfect crime’ because nobody wanted to say anything. 

The abuse stopped when the Scout leader moved away, although he wrote letters to Marc. By this time Marc says he had begun to think the leader ‘was a bit too strange’ and had realised something was wrong.  

Marc has mixed feelings about the effect of the abuse. He says it was a ‘confusing time’ for all of them. He has not kept in touch with any of the others. 

He says he does not want the Scout leader to be punished and he does not blame anyone. But he adds that in some ways he does blame himself and at times feels angry about that.   

Marc says that having started drinking at the age of 14, he began to drink ‘more and more’. He comments that he has a ‘short fuse’ and gets angry and grumpy. He says for a while he ‘had an anti-gay thing’ because he thought ‘everyone who was gay was the same as the scout leader’, but he now realises this is not the case. 

Marc feels he is distant in relationships. He has told his wife some of what happened, but when she tries to make him open up more, he doesn’t want to.

Because of what happened to him, Marc says he is overprotective of his own children. He knows he needs ‘to balance my paranoia and over protection.’ 

Marc does not believe the Disclosure and Barring Service is working. He would like an online system in real time rather than a paper system. He adds that there should always be at least two adults in charge of any number of children.  

He thinks there is too much emphasis teaching children about ‘stranger danger’ and there should be more emphasis on education about grooming. 

Marc concludes by saying that attending a Truth Project session is his way of trying to help other people. ‘Today is the most I have talked about it ever.’

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