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



If she hadn’t told her mum she was sexually abused Tayla ‘ wouldn’t have known how little she cared about me’

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Tayla’s overwhelming childhood memory is of not being loved or cared for by her parents or brothers.

Her violent mother made it clear she did not want to hear about any of Tayla’s problems. This was confirmed by her response when Tayla tried to tell her she had been sexually abused.

Tayla grew up in the 1960s and 70s. She was the youngest in her family. She says they were not well off, and she remembers being made to feel the family ‘would be better off without me’.

She describes her mother as a strict disciplinarian: ‘She seemed to enjoy dishing out punishments’. These included being beaten, deprived of food, and banging her children’s heads together, or against a wall.

She comments ‘When you’re young you just accept that’s what parents do to children’.

Tayla was first sexually abused when she was six years old. Two older girls trapped her in a toilet at primary school, pulled down her underwear, slapped her hard and assaulted her in a very physically invasive way. Tayla remembers crying while this was happening, but the girls ignored her and carried on.

She returned to the classroom shaken and visibly upset, but no one asked what was wrong. She says ‘Back in those days, teachers were not approachable’.

When she started school, her mother had sent her off with a warning: ‘If you have any problems, don’t come crying to me, deal with it yourself’. But although at that age she knew nothing about sex, she was sure that what had happened was wrong, and she thought she should tell her mother.

Her mother’s response was completely indifferent, and she says ‘I thought she would care but she didn’t. It left me feeling completely worthless. I remember thinking who else can I turn to and there was no one … not my dad … he wasn’t really interested in me’. 

Tayla remembers that she became very withdrawn, but no one noticed. She adds ‘I didn’t want to play with girls any more. I thought they were dirty’. 

About two years later, a friend of one of her brothers, who often came to the house, began pestering her to look at his penis. She was eight years old, and he was 10 years older. He relentlessly badgered Tayla, until she agreed, hoping that he would then leave her alone.

He made her go with him to a quiet park, where he indecently exposed himself, made her touch his genitals and tried to do the same to her. He threatened her that if she told anyone, he would tell her mother and get her into trouble.

Tayla says ‘I knew then that he knew it was wrong, but I was more scared of her than him’.

He attempted to repeat this abuse on Tayla on several occasions, and once held her in a shed when she was on her way home. This time she became so angry she dared him that she would tell her mother, and he let her go.

When she arrived home her mother was so angry that she was late, that Tayla blurted out what had happened. Her parents made her go to her brother’s friend’s house and tell his parents.

After that, her mother attempted to tell her the facts of life. But, she says, ‘She didn’t explain it properly and at the age of nine I thought I was going to have a baby … was living in terror for months until I realised’.

She suffered further distress when a few weeks later, her brother invited his friend to the house for a meal. She protested, but her parents allowed him to come. She says ‘I felt like they sacrificed me so my older brother could continue his friendship’.

Tayla experienced depression as a teenager, and serious mental health problems as an adult. She got married and became pregnant. During an antenatal appointment she was sexually abused by a doctor, who was aware of her mental health condition.

At this point, she says ‘Everything I tried to block out for years just came flooding back and has never gone away’. She reported the incident to the police but was met with a dismissive attitude and no action was taken.  

Tayla has accessed counselling and she is in a stable marriage and has children.

She explains that she could never shake off the need to try to please her parents. ‘I tried to be a good daughter. Mum would only tell you when you did something wrong so I’d try to be perfect’.

Tayla reflects that when she was young ‘You didn’t question anything. There were no adults you felt able to confide in … we were afraid of the adults we knew’.

She believes it is important for children to know they have someone to talk to they can trust. Also that they should be taught about inappropriate touching and they have the right to say no and tell someone if it happens.  

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