Damon’s Story

Names and other details have been changed to protect identities

I met Joe when I was 11. He worked at the stables I used to hang around at.

I really wanted to ride horses, like I used to see on the films i’d watch on a Sunday afternoon. Joe let me do that. He was also the first person that bought me cigarettes and I thought smoking was really cool but did not want my mum and dad finding out.

I got on with my parents and sister well, but Joe let me sort of do what I wanted.

I suppose I wanted to grow up quick and Joe made me feel like an adult. But I wasn’t an adult, I was a kid – you know, I still find that hard to accept because I’ve realised just how much of a good job at manipulating and brainwashing me into thinking I was his equal.

He showed me pornographic magazines to start with and then it went on from there. He’d do truth/dare with me and it always seem to end up with him touching me and doing stuff.

But I’d kind of try and forget about it because he would buy me records, cigs, food, trainers, magazines and let me ride the horses whenever i wanted to. It was like they were mine. It really messed my head up later in life. I blamed myself for taking the items off him. It was like he’d bought me.

“I blamed myself for taking the items off him. It was like he’d bought me.”

I kept all this quiet about all this for about 15 years mainly because I didn’t want to admit to myself what had happened never mind admitting to anyone else. I was ashamed, felt guilty and just hated myself for it all.

But I found someone to talk to, someone like me that helped me challenge my own thinking. I got so much from talking to him, and then others until I found myself realising that this wasn’t my fault.

I missed out on a good education when I was younger because of what was going on for me, so getting one now is really important and I think I’m doing pretty well for myself now. I have a degree I worked really hard for, a good job, and I can finally talk about what happened.

I’m not ashamed any more because I know I have nothing to be ashamed about – I did nothing wrong.