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Roger Graham's story

As a child in the 1970s Roger was an excellent athlete, and at the age of 12 he joined his local athletics club. The following year he went away with a group of men from the club to attend a competition. He and another boy, Harry, were the only children on the trip, with the men acting as their chaperones.

He was very excited about the tour, because he hadn’t travelled much before and there would be famous athletes at the competition. The group stayed in a hotel, and one night the boys decided to ask the older men to supply them with alcohol. The men did so, leaving a glass of straight vodka at the door of the boys’ room.

Not having had alcohol before, the boys consumed the whole glass between them. They soon became intoxicated, and somehow ended up in the men’s room. Roger recalls around half a dozen men in the room, all of them drinking heavily.

Some of the men pinned the boys down, fondled them, and poured alcohol on their testicles.

The atmosphere appeared to be ‘light-hearted’ and jovial. ‘I’d just like to make the comment that I think the most sinister people are the people who can get away with things that are seemingly light-hearted, it’s more deceptive.’

Being so drunk at the time, Roger cannot remember exactly what else happened, or how long they stayed in the room.

‘One of the people, I don’t know which one, took us to the lift. I can remember one person saying “let them go”, I don’t know how long it was ... It seemed like a long time, but I couldn’t honestly say how long it was.

‘But I remember being totally embarrassed and humiliated, because I was 13 and I was a late starter, you know, and I remember being very self-conscious that I hadn’t hit puberty, even at that age. So that’s the thing that hurt the most ... I just felt terrible.’

Eventually ‘they took us down to the lift and made us get in the lift, and that was the end of it. We were drunk ... We were running amok in the hotel after that’.

He isn’t sure if he ever discussed the abuse with Harry, but thinks most of their conversation was about having been drunk, and he did not tell his parents or anyone else about it at the time. In recent years he has tried to track down Harry to help clarify the details of what happened, but so far has been unsuccessful.

Roger has never reported the men who abused him to police because ‘I just didn’t think it was a big thing ... I don’t see any need to’. Now he wonders if he should have in case the men abused other kids.

‘Right at this moment I think I should have reported this years ago, because it might have happened to many others. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but I understand now that, gee, I should have.’

About six months after this trip Roger left the club. In the following years he started smoking and drinking heavily, developed an addiction and was in trouble with the law for mostly drug related offences. ‘I was just slowly killing myself.’

He doesn’t feel that there is necessarily a link between the abuse he experienced on the trip and this destructive behaviour. ‘I don’t feel that it affected me in any way ... I’m responsible for a lot of my actions, and I believe that a lot of the stuff I did that led to me being sentenced to jail.’

Over 20 years ago he met his wife and through her became a born-again Christian, completely turning his life around and giving up his addictions.

‘I believe my strength comes from the Lord, you know, it’s my faith in Jesus ... I don’t believe that I’m a strong person at all ... I don’t trust myself, even though I know I won’t go back to alcohol or drugs I still don’t trust myself in a lot of areas, I still have issues ... Because I do have faith I commit things to the Lord, and I believe he gives me my strength.’

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