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Being sexually abused by people with power and authority made Wyn feel inadequate and angry

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Wyn grew up in the 1950s. He was sexually abused by a dentist when he was nine years old, and by a naval officer when he was a teenager.

As a child Wyn had tooth decay and he underwent a course of treatment by his local dentist. His mother took him to the surgery but he went into the treatment room alone. 

He describes the dentist as an older man. During the year in which Wyn had the dental work, the dentist sexually abused him several times. This happened while Wyn was tipped back in the chair, and the dentist claimed that he was doing it to relax him. 

Wyn was nine years old at the time, and he says he saw the dentist as a figure of authority who was helping him to get better, so he didn’t question this behaviour. 

When he was in his mid teens, Wyn joined a naval training course. He remembers that it was very hard and demanding. He found one exercise particularly difficult because he was afraid of heights, and the chief instructor told him that if he disobeyed an order, he would be disciplined. 

Humiliating physical punishments in front of others on the course were often meted out, and Wyn was terrified of this. So when the instructor offered him another option on the condition that he didn’t tell anyone else about it, Wyn accepted. 

When he later reported to the instructor, the senior officer physically assaulted him in a way that clearly gave him sexual gratification. When it was over, he reiterated that Wyn must not tell anyone. 

Wyn describes feeling sad and ashamed about what had happened and says that for a long time, he thought the abuse was his own fault. He has also experienced feelings of anger, and been treated for depression.  

He hopes that naval recruits would not be treated this way now, but would like there to be anonymous and confidential channels they can use to report any abuse. He also advocates that recruits and officers should be educated in what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. 

This is particularly important where people are required to carry out instructions from authority figures.

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