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.