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Stories

Read and try and understand other people’s experiences and stories from abuse in the Scouts. If there’s anything here that is triggering, know that there are people who can help. If you feel inspired or confident enough, please share your story.

 

75 stories submitted so far.

Page 8

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  • Sexual Abuse

    I was brought to Scouts in 2006 by someone I’d met through a friend. Within a couple of weeks he had convinced the leaders to let me join the older section where he was, shortly after this he turned 18 and remained coming to the group, we were told he was a young leader.

    During the next few weeks and months I was groomed into a sexual relationship with this leader. I repeatedly refused to consent to sexual acts but was continually coerced, blackmailed and worn down to letting them happen. This was not consent. These acts happened before scout meetings in the grounds of the church, in local parks and on several occasions at camps. One time I was seen by the group leader coming out of the tent I had been made to share with the abuser, when he saw this I was told by the leader to make sure the camp organisers didn’t find out. My welfare was not of his concern at that time at all. I was also asked about rumours of a relationship between me and this young leader at a separate camp by a female leader, in front of a group of his friends, she now denies this happened but I clearly remember it and remember that it was not a true opportunity for me to confide in her, as how can any 13 year old accuse someone of rape in front of his best friends.

    I reported by abuse to the police in 2016 after undertaking training on child sexual exploitation, unfortunately due to evidential difficulties and I believe the lack of support from the scouts (including one scout leader telling witnesses to not say more than they had to and discouraging them from talking about another possible victim) my case was laid on file and could not proceed to charging the individual at that time. This devastated me as the police investigation had been a hugely difficult experience to go through.

    After the police investigation was laid on file, my dad emailed the scout head office about my situation and what they were going to do to try and help us secure a conviction. This was when we found out that the report of the period of abuse never made it to head office, the leader had gone against their safeguarding policy and kept the information to himself. From then on it was clear the scouts do not take safeguarding seriously, we were treated with contempt throughout and after a really poor internal review we had to force them to an external review, when we discovered internal emails and communications which essentially blamed me for what happened. This external review gave them 20-something action points. I very much doubt they have acted on all of these in any sort of effective way. Everything they have done has been to get me to shut up and leave them alone, dealing with the scouts has felt like a separate period of abuse.

    From my experience of abuse, I have been delayed in my career, been diagnosed with complex-ptsd and have found that I lost most of my childhood years to the impact of it. I don’t want this to happen to others.

    I am extremely concerned for the welfare of victims who come and speak to the scouts about their experience, as well as TSA’s lack of proactivity when it comes to making changes to protect the thousands of children in their care. TSA needs to do better, their duty first and foremost must be protecting the children in their care not taking care of their own reputation.

  • Insufficient Training

    I volunteer with a Scouts group. However, upon first expressing an interest in volunteering, I was able to take a group of children and work with them on activities without a DBS, guidelines or safeguarding training. Although other leaders were present, further guidance should have been offered for safety of young children.

    I have been with the group for some time now and even with the DBS, I still have had no contact from the central organisation or from leaders in the groups I work with on how to engage and safeguard children.
    With the knowledge of what can happen, it’s so very important that all adults involved with Scouts has some form on online or in-person training on safeguarding, PREVENT and H&S basics.

  • Sexual Abuse

    My abuse started whilst I was in the cubs in the mid to late 80’s and continued over a period of several years into the Scouts. I attended a group in a village, near to a small city and other village groups would often do joint activities at camps and days out etc…

    My abuser wasn’t a leader at my group but having recently relocated to the area he visited my group and I was introduced to him by one of my leaders.

    The reason I mention this is that I have had such difficulty in seeking any justice as a consequence, the lack of accountability and safeguarding, in hindsight is inexcusable. This man manipulated the situation to get me alone with him, giving me lifts back from activities, taking me from group and camps etc whilst covering his tracks; this was a man who had already been in scouting for years at this point, who would go on to be convicted of raping several boys over a long period of time once he had progressed into a position of authority in the service structure. My abuse progressed over time until he raped my at an activity day at his home group. The effect this has had on me is devastating, the fact it was sporadic and I never knew when he would appear has deeply effected my sense of security. The lack of awareness or basic common sense of other leaders that allowed me to be alone with this man who had no valid reason to be taking me has made me find it almost impossible to trust people, to think they were complicit, whilst in likelihood were just negligent. The leader from my group who made the introduction and facilitated his access to me has just refused to talk to the police or my solicitors, they live round the corner from my parents, every time I go there I am triggered. Being singled out for special treatment (an excuse used to get me chosen to go with him to events etc) left me afraid to excel or try much at anything. The physical abuse has caused issues but the psychological damage, the fear and insecurity and mistrust have meant I’ve struggled through life feeling like I have one arm tied behind my back, or like I’m trying to walk with my legs tied together. It’s hard to make an analogy that does it justice to be honest…

    I have had total breakdowns at the times in my life that should have been joyous; when my children were born, when I should have been living life I was a failure to my family, my partners, my children as I was in hospital, through suicide attempts and mental illness. Hurting everyone close to me by my emotional absence throughout my adult life.

    I have reported to the police twice, neither time with any success, have attempted civil cases to get money for therapy without success. I have lived in hell for much of my adult life carrying the shame and feelings of uselessness, unworthiness and disgust that belong to my abuser, but which I can’t seem to free myself of.

    In my opinion the scouting association was set up by a man with an unhealthy interest in children and has always been staffed by a large percentage of people with nefarious motives. I’ve had no apologies or acceptance of what happened to me, quite the opposite in fact. I carry on simply because I don’t want to hurt my family by killing my self but it gets harder every year.

    The challenges I’ve faced recently with this second police report have been that the SA have failed to keep or provide any photos etc of the perpetrator, once he was convicted in the early 2000’s they’ve scrubbed him from their records, failed to provide a single photo to show my parents for identification purposes, my parents saw this man drop me home one time, and queried with my leader why he’d dropped me home instead of her as arranged, she stated he was visiting and offered.

    I will go as far as to say they have failed utterly, knowing the man was convicted, to keep and provide photos and other information that would help previous victims seeking convictions.
    There’s so much I’m angry about, not least that I have no voice, that the SA are more interested in brushing things under the rug then helping survivors seek justice in my informed opinion.

    I hope this website can raise awareness of the extent of abuse within the SA historically. If parents knew the sheer scale of the amount of paedophiles that have been active in the movement I think they’d think twice about sending their kids there. The SA seems to have a respected public image, endorsed by high profile people and Royals. I am highly sceptical that our voices will be heard or taken seriously. And that’s the final insult to a survivor, being ignored, marginalised and having the problem minimised.

    I tell my story for the souls I’ve encountered in the psychiatric wards, prison, addiction and recovery, the survivors and those who took their lives all for the perverted needs of these abusers. Abusers appear in many places, are devious and manipulative by nature but hiding in plain sight in the SA is inexcusable to me. Dressing up in uniform to boss kids around, the pride and authority of the leader’s hierarchy that allows this to flourish is so blatant and ridiculous to me I just absolutely despair.

  • Sexual Abuse

    My abuser died by suicide after his arrest for allegations of sexual assault that had been reported by another victim. I had been contacted by the police as a part of the investigation, and recounted my own allegations. Days later, his body was discovered in the scout hut where he had abused me.

    The Scout Association’s inaction has made what was already a traumatic situation even more stressful and deeply depressing.

    Rather than informing members that prior to his passing, a leader of 20 years had been suspended pending a sexual assault investigation, the scouts posted and published condolence messages celebrating his contribution to the community and encouraged members to attended his funeral in full scouts uniform.

    Surely, the scouts would have a responsibility to inform parents that their child might have been at risk for abuse? Knowing I hadn’t been the only person he had abused was hugely impactful. Wouldn’t other potential victims have a right to know the circumstances so that they could begin healing from the shame, guilt and isolation?

    I contacted the scouts safeguarding office and spent months trying to communicate with them about what I felt was a major safeguarding issue. The scouts sent me vague responses that contained little to no information and eventual silence.

    Disclosing the abuse within scouting had been extremely difficult – I had done so as a teenager and later as an adult. I discovered that neither allegation had been recorded or reported to scouts HQ.

    Eventually, I spoke with the highest level of safeguarding at scouts who told me that there had been no gossip about my abuser, that there were no other concerns raised about this leader being ‘slightly dodgy’, and that no other victims had come forward. The scouts did not feel that there was a need to inform members of our abuser’s arrest and suspension or the failings to report our allegations, they said that transparency was an interesting point, but not one they would consider.

    Paedophiles do not have clear tell-tale signs that spark gossip, and groomers utilise their positions and reputations to abuse children. Why would victims come forward if they were not informed of the circumstances? Regardless, my experience is that the scouts do not provide a supportive environment for victims of sexual violence.

    Transparency when processes fail ensures that those who do not follow protocol are held accountable – that is how we protect children. Withholding information surrounding sexual assault cases only serves to protect the reputation of The Scout Association. How can a child-centred organisation continue to function when even the highest positions of scouting place reputational damage above child and victim welfare?

    The Scout Association can not continue stonewalling victims and ignoring their significant systemic failings, enough is enough.

  • Sexual Abuse

    A few years into scouting, my longstanding scout leader was inappropriate with me on a camping trip. It was a premeditated situation that he’d set up, culminating in him getting incredibly close to me, whispering to me, and touching me in a sexual way whilst everyone else was asleep in sleeping bags around us. It was incredibly frightening and confusing. I struggle to find words that can convey what happened, and I feel unable to justify the impact with words either. This is part of the difficulty of speaking up.

    I wanted to report what happened, however there was no one to tell. There was no process in place to raise any level of concerns, plus it’s a very difficult thing to talk about – emotionally and practically. I did manage to report it internally to an inexperienced leader, who I now believe lacked sufficient (if any) safeguarding training. Unfortunately, and quite traumatically, I was just made to ‘talk-it-out’ with the offending scout leader and settle the issue off the record. My experience was denied and no further action was taken.

    I have since reported my experience to the police as an adult, in the knowledge that he was still an active scout leader. One other former member of our unit has also come forward about sexual assaults by the same man. To date, no current or former members, or parents, have been contacted by the Scouts Association about any concerns regarding him, and I have not yet been told of any understandable, specific reasons as to why not. They choose to keep their responses broad, non-specific, evasive and repeated, which shuts down any chance of constructive, directional dialogue. Communication with them feels like a battle, rather than working together, making an already difficult situation unnecessarily prolonged and even more distressing.

    No attempts have been made by the Scouts Association to reach out to current members whatsoever, no matter how vague and broad they could choose to be, whether to gather information or offer support, even if they leave him unnamed, etc. I am unsure how they can be sure that no one else has been affected by him more recently or why they don’t care about this. I would like it to be widely known that from my experience, Scouts Safeguarding’s approach appears to be centered on the quiet removal of any adults involved (who likely lacked appropriate training in the first place), and regarding this as individual failings of those dismissed, rather than a wider issue. There have been no attempts at reaching out to scouts who may be impacted, and no attempts at working constructively and openly with those coming forwards. Its jarring, unfair and surely only serves to protect the reputations of the leader involved and of the association.

    Silence regarding concerns of abuse in the Scouts does not imply that it isn’t happening. From my two experiences of reporting, there has been a consistent lack of transparency; parents and scouts aren’t alerted when concerns are raised; there aren’t clear routes to raise or escalate concerns; there is disagreeable action, if not inaction, once escalated; and there is a lack of understanding of those affected’s experiences of/while reporting such incidents and how to communicate with those coming forward in a constructive way.

    Good luck to this campaign. I hope it achieves what it has set out to – I am wholeheartedly in agreement with its purpose and all of the outcomes outlined.