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Nolan was troubled for many years that he was not ‘brave enough’ to report the man who abused him

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Nolan has found strategies to help him cope with the effects of being sexually abused as a child.

He believes that research into paedophilia and treatments would be a better way to protect children than ‘witch hunts’.

Nolan came from a large family. He was the oldest child and says he was ‘shy and compliant … a good boy’.

When he was eight years old, Nolan was allowed to join a youth club. There were activities he enjoyed, but at first he found mixing with the other youngsters difficult because of his shyness. Soon after, the manager of the club, Barrie, started to involve him in activities such as first-aid classes. 

Barrie would also invite Nolan to his home for tea and biscuits, sometimes with other boys but sometimes on his own. The manager used these visits to sexually abuse Nolan.

The abuser would put his hands down Nolan’s pants and sexually abuse him. Nolan describes how he did this in such an artful way, it was ‘like pickpocketing’. 

Nolan can also remember occasions when there were other boys there who would be ‘participating in sexual activities’, and Barrie would try to include him in them. Nolan would use strategies to try to avoid Barrie, but the abuse went on for about a year.

He recalls that ‘the confusion and chaos that went on in my mind was extraordinary’. 

Some time later, Nolan’s parents told him they had just heard that Barrie had been arrested for sexually abusing boys at the youth club. They asked Nolan ‘Has he ever touched you?’

Nolan said ‘no’. Later, he says, he felt he had let himself down by not reporting Barrie, and he says this had consequences for him. As Nolan’s parents had initially believed their son’s denial, they had offered Barrie some support before the trial.

This meant that Nolan had to cope with the very uncomfortable situation of seeing Barrie, until he was tried, convicted and imprisoned. ‘It made me feel quite ill’ he says.

Nolan said that when he heard accounts from other victims and survivors who had been abused by Barrie, he thought the abuse he suffered was ‘at the low end of the scale’. He was relieved that Barrie was sent to prison, and also that he had not been raped by him. 

However, he says he still carried ‘a weight’ on his mind because he thought he had not been brave enough to report Barrie. Over the following years, he struggled with feelings of anger, sometimes triggered by news stories about child sexual abuse. 

Nolan went on to research psychology and he discovered a way of coping through forgiveness. ‘It’s a question of letting go of the negative’ he says. 

After a close relative was seriously ill, Nolan went through emotional turmoil that made him revisit his experience of abuse. He had counselling and says that this helped him, and he was able to talk to some family members and friends about it.

It emerged that Barrie had come to the UK after being deported from his home country. Nolan feels that there should be effective international cooperation relating to perpetrators of child sexual abuse. 

Nolan is pleased about initiatives to educate children from a young age about sex and emotions. He says that everyone must be aware that risk does not just come from strangers. 

He adds that paedophilia should be treated as an illness. To protect children, science and research should be used to understand and solve the issue, rather than ‘witch hunts’ which never work.

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