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Survivors' voices

Experiences shared

These are some of the experiences of child sexual abuse shared with the Truth Project by victims and survivors. All names and identifying details have been changed.

Download a PDF sample of accounts

Gemma says ‘I’m the one who’s doing the life sentence, in a way’

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Gemma had an exceptionally difficult childhood. Neglect and domestic violence occurred regularly in the family home, so much so that all her older siblings were placed into care. 

Gemma’s mother had a mental mental illness and continued to neglect her youngest child until Gemma too was taken into care and fostered before she was two years old.

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Eliza says ‘There needs to be a shift in attitude to what people call “attention seeking”’

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Eliza’s mother was in a relationship with a man who physically and emotionally abused her and her two children. To escape him, the family went to live in a hostel when Eliza was a young teenager.

She says ‘I was looking for attention … for someone to want me’. A man twice her age took advantage of her vulnerability and sexually abused her.

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Feeling unloved by her parents made Anja vulnerable to sexual abuse

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Anja describes growing up in a middle-class family that appeared respectable but was very dysfunctional. 

She says life at home was ‘awful’. She does not remember ever being told she was loved and that left her with a longing for affection. 

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Pieter says one of the worst things about the abuse he suffered was how unpredictable it was

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Pieter was taken into care as a toddler in the 1960s. 

He was subjected to extreme sadistic cruelty and abuse by the Catholic nuns who ran the children’s home.

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Kia endured 12 years of brutal sexual abuse by her father

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Kia is trying to overcome feeling responsible for having been abused. She feels she was let down by a number of professionals, including school and healthcare staff.

Kia’s father began abusing her when she was about five years old. He told her it was punishment for bad behaviour and over time, she realised that he seemed to prefer it if she was emotional when he abused her. 

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The man who abused Holly controlled her by befriending her parents

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Holly grew up in a farming community. She was sexually abused by a man who was friendly with her parents.

She feels more should be done to raise awareness of sexual abuse in rural areas. 

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Marista says ‘I want not to feel disgusting … not to have this feeling inside me’

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Marista attended a private girls’ school which she describes as focused on high academic achievers with a punitive regime.

Between the ages of 11 and 15, she was sexually abused by two teachers and other pupils suffered similar experiences. But, she says, the prevailing feeling was that ‘they had to put up with it’.

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Ruth’s grandfather ‘was not the upstanding member of the community he appeared to be’

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When Ruth visited her grandfather in a nursing home, memories of child sexual abuse began coming back to her.

She spent most of her school holidays in her grandparents’ house and recalls this was where her grandfather started sexually abusing her.

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Alys was not supported by her family or any services after she reported she was being sexually abused

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Alys was sexually abused for many years by her alcoholic father. 

Her mother was angry that she reported the abuse, and her experiences with the police and the courts added to her trauma even more.

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Ida says ‘Money doesn’t make any difference ... I just wanted justice … someone to believe me’

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Ida grew up in the 1960s. Her father was a violent man, and when she was six years old, her mother left home. Ida and her brothers and sisters were taken into care. 

She has fought for recognition of the abuse she suffered and the mistakes that were made when she was placed with an abusive carer and his complicit wife.

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After he was abused, Bryn led a troubled life, but says counselling changed everything for him

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Although his parents split up, Bryn describes his childhood as happy. But sexual abuse by a cadet leader altered the course of his life.

Bryn was the youngest of three children. His mother was in her early 20s when his father left the family. Bryn missed him, but soon after, his mother got a new partner, and Bryn says he could not have asked for a better stepfather. He was also close to his grandfather.

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Nat says ‘I see how things can be triggered much later in life’

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Several decades after he was sexually abused, Nat suffered a mental health crisis.

His experiences gave him insight into the provision of services and he has suggestions for ways they could be more responsive to individual needs.

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