When I was 15, I was a young leader at a cub group whilst also in explorers and on a district cub camping weekend I met a leader from another cub group who was in his 20s at the time. Nothing happened that weekend, but following the camp we added each other on social media and started talking and the grooming began. It started as a friendship, we became best friends very quickly and I saw him as an older brother. We bonded over our struggles with our mental health and personal losses we had experienced in life.
Within a few months of meeting him, I would meet up with him after school and one evening he told me he had feelings for me, and being too scared to say no to him, I said I did too and we started a relationship. Before I turned 16, I had been sexually assaulted and raped by him.
The relationship lasted until I was 17, over 2 years since I first met him and for the majority of this time he was still a cub leader, until he was suspended by the organisation for reasons I still do not know, and thankfully he hasn’t returned since.
Our relationship was living hell, he was emotionally abusive and I was raped on multiple occasions. The suicide threats and attempts were none stop and I did everything I possibly could to keep that man alive at the cost of my own mental health, my closest friendships and my education.
In the last few months of our relationship the abuse got so much worse – he had enrolled at my college and I was being harassed constantly. We eventually broke up a few months later but the harassment continued and I was stalked one evening, which ended in him being arrested but later released with no further action. It seemed to be enough to scare him and on the most part I have been left alone since then.
After years of therapy, I reported all the abuse to the scout association in 2021, however a safeguarding officer told me that because he was no longer a leader, it was a police matter not theirs, and they would not look into it further. A few months later, I got back in touch with them and pushed for it to be looked into it further, which thankfully it picked up by another safeguarding officer who reported it to the police for me. Unfortunately the police case dragged on for 18 months, he was voluntarily interviewed once (and denying it all), but the CPS decided not to charge him based on the technicality that he wasn’t MY scout leader, despite the fact that none of the abuse would have happened if it wasn’t for scouting.
I now live with PTSD and anxiety from the trauma and my emotions towards him and the scout association are those filled with anger and upset. Although never directly confirmed, conversations with multiple members of the safeguarding team and the police have given me the impression they were aware of the abuse or a relationship between us to some degree, which looking back is no surprise given I met and went on holiday with his family, including a relative that is a leader at the same group and they saw me at an event in my explorer uniform!
Things need to change within the organisation. I once loved scouting and it was such a huge part of my life, but they are putting their reputation before the safety of young people and I cannot understand how this is ever acceptable.