My Experience as a Child (Content Note)
When I was about 10 years old and had not a care in the world something shifted and the 30-odd years since then have been based on the experience I had at that tender age.
We lived in a relatively happy household (there were arguments of course but no more than most) and while I had a fairly tumultuous relationship with my mother I was a real daddy’s girl (still am in case you think you know where this is going).
My brother is nearly four years older than me and we had a fairly normal sibling relationship. We fought and argued but if anyone hurt me he would step in and defend me and vice versa.
He had lots of mates and we grew up in an age where kids went out in the morning during holidays and often weren’t seen again until teatime. There were a lot of kids in the gang of mixed ages and we had the best time.
Things changed one winter when we couldn’t get out playing. My brother had some friends in and I was in bed when someone tapped lightly on the door. I wasn’t asleep and felt the bed dip with the weight of someone close to me. My brother’s friend said I had to keep quiet as he was hiding and he then stroked my face. His hand tickled me all the way down my neck, arm and then he moved further down. I didn’t know what was happening and just lay really still. Someone moved outside the room and he bolted to the back of the bedroom door then jumped out on them. I was a bit confused but thought it was normal. As time went on he came to the house more and more often and suggested games of hide and seek to my brother. He would then of course hide in my bedroom and would touch me.
Our parents were friends and there would be parties in the summer months and our dads played cricket together. We would all travel to games to watch and he would whisper to me to go and hide in a certain place then he would come and find me and touch me and even sometimes try to have sex with me although at his age I’m not even sure he knew what to do. He told me I mustn’t tell anyone because they wouldn’t believe me – I was just a kid.
We moved house and his parents separated with the result that he also moved. Although still in the same town he was far enough away not to bother me anymore.
When I started secondary school and he was there he just ignored me and eventually I thought I’d probably imagined it.
In time I developed a massive crush on one of my teachers. I was good at the subject he taught and I would often stay behind at the end of the school day for extracurricular lessons.
I joined clubs outwith school that he was also involved in and we would have weekend excursions and we got to know each other pretty well. I was in love.
As time went by I somehow managed to get hold of his telephone number and would call him up. His house was close to ours and I could see the lights on in his flat. I’d go to the nearby phone box when I saw he was home and give him a call. He’d invite me to the flat for a cup of tea and eventually one Saturday night when he’d been drinking he was lying on his sofa and I started to stroke his face. He licked my fingers and we kissed. I thought I was the luckiest girl on earth and my whole life started to revolve around him. Months went by and we would be in his flat two or three nights a week just kissing and him touching and him stroking me.
One night things changed though and when I got the flat his mate was there. They were being rude and suggestive and I was a bit frightened. I didn’t know what half the stuff was they were talking about. His friend eventually left and he asked me if I’d ever had sex with anyone. I said no and he asked if I’d like to go to bed with him. He was a bit drunk and he lunged at me in the kitchen. Again though, I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. This much older man (20 years older to be exact) fancied me and wanted me. He didn’t give me a chance to say I didn’t want to and deep down I knew he loved me so what was the harm. We had sex on the kitchen floor. When he was done he got up and went through to the living room to watch TV with a beer. I was upset but excited at the same time. I remember going through to tell him I was going home and he just nodded. I was gutted. I expected a cuddle but he didn’t even show me out.
The next day at school I was upset but when I went to the building where he worked he grinned and winked at me and I knew everything was going to be fine.
During the next months and years - I was 14 when I first had sex with him and 19 when I eventually realised what was happening and tried to end things - he raped me and would often slap me or shove me around if I said I couldn’t stay with him. About a year into the relationship I think my parents must have got wind of what was happening and had him to the house to discuss things. He convinced them I had a crush on him and that he had done everything to discourage it. They believed him. I was so ashamed but again he smiled at me in school the next day and whispered that I should meet him in his office after school. I went to see him and he looked really angry. He got hold of me by the throat and said I had to stop being so stupid or we would get caught. He then hugged me and said he loved me.
I was forced to leave school at 16 when the headteacher found out we were seeing too much of each other. I was told I could either leave or be humiliated and thrown out. My parents weren’t even called in to discuss things – I was too scared to tell anyone what was happening and who would have believed me anyway? So I left with very few qualifications and even fewer prospects. Even after I left school though I still visited him and he even came to my house once when my parents were on holiday. I didn’t want him there but he pushed his way in and actually raped me in the hallway of our house. To my horror I fell pregnant and went through the agony of a termination with the help of a friend’s mum. I didn’t tell him. I knew he would love children but certainly wouldn’t want them with me as he’d made that quite clear. He kept a bottle of champagne in his fridge in case something amazing ever happened and he met someone he could marry and have kids with.
I started a college course and made new friends and even started going out with someone. However, if I ever saw the teacher on a night out I would fall back into the trap and end up at his house. The relationship at college didn’t last and I’m pretty sure it was because I felt queasy every time he touched me or he tried to initiate sex.
At 19 I got a great opportunity to go abroad and work in a school. I left home with a heavy heart but decided to make the most of it. I met lots of great people and often went out drinking. I met a guy in a bar one night and ended up having sex with him in the toilets. We saw each other a few times but unless I was drunk I couldn’t bear to sleep with him.
I called the teacher one night from a friend’s house when we were drunk and he managed to get my number and would often call and we would chat about what I was doing. He said he was going to try and get out to see me during the holidays and persuaded me to give him my address. I never thought for one minute he’d come but he did. He was going skiing with a bunch of friends and was going to come and see me. I was excited and scared all at the same time. Maybe things could be different. It wasn’t to be though. Yes, he came to see me. He got drunk and raped me again, quite violently and I was in pieces. Not only that, I was pregnant again and was facing another termination but this time in a strange country with no friend’s mum to help me. I had made friends with the school nurse though and she was a great help to me. She even set me up with a counsellor but he asked me if I enjoyed it when my brother’s friend touched me. I was mortified that I had enjoyed the feeling of being touched and the intimacy and I never went back to see him because I was so disgusted with myself.
I never saw the teacher again after I returned home from my year abroad. He’d broken me but I never spoke to anyone about it, I just tried to get on with my life.
I’m married now with two children. My husband is a good guy but we have fallen into a few traps along the way. My mind tells me all the time that he’s going to leave me so I often shut down and we end up having massive arguments. Our sex life is pretty non-existent as I still feel dirty sometimes when we do get intimate.
The teacher continued teaching at the same school until a couple of years ago when he retired. I’ve seen him in the street a couple of times and I’ve had a weird feeling. Butterflies in my stomach, but I don’t know if it’s fear or excitement. I’m ashamed about that too.
I’ve spoken to a friend about it now – she went through a similar experience and I think we’ve been really lucky to find each other. We met through complete chance and I am so lucky to have her. She has had counselling though and continues to tell me none of it was my fault - that he was an adult and I was a child but I’m not so sure. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away.
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Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. We believe you. We know the fault lies with the abuser.
Abusers have choices, they know their abusive behaviour is wrong (even as the young age of your brothers friend, who insisted on secrecy and making you fearful and feeling that you wouldn’t be believed)
We know you didn’t cause the abuse. We know abusers are looking for vulnerability, and they often find that in those who have been abused previously.
If you’d like some support, there are organisations on our Get Support page who will offer non-judgemental support at your pace, and without victim blaming.
Thank you again, sending peaceful thoughts x
(Your post has been very popular on our site today, it is our most viewed piece. Your voice will have touched many people)