Criminal Care? · 24 May 2018
Outed by a care home manager
I have lived in a few children’s homes. In one, there was a manager, who I’ll call Steve, who had a big impact on my life. Steve was a mass of contradictions and I didn’t like or understand him. He inexplicably favoured some children while consistently threatening others with restraint, taking away their private property and inflicting punishments for minor infractions like using the computer too late.
I didn’t feel comfortable around him and so I did everything possible to avoid him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a man that liked being avoided. Steve would always end up being the one taking me to appointments even when I told him that I couldn’t stand him. He took pleasure in being able to exert any miniscule amount of control over me, constantly throwing out the “that would give me reason to restrain you” line.
Eventually, I’d had enough of Steve’s bullying and cruel behaviour and I sent an e-mail to Ofsted telling them about the way he restrained and tormented children in the home. A few days after sending this email, Steve came into my room without knocking and, with a condescending look on his face, he said, “I’m going to take your computer and look at your history. Care home policy”. There wasn’t much that I could do but sit in a submissive stupor while watching him unplug the cables from the back of the machine. The anger that I felt quickly converted to hurt and pain.
I’d never give him the satisfaction of seeing my pain…something I had learnt to do while facing abuse from my father and late step-father.
As he stood and grinned at me, I sat and bit my top lip as it desperately wanted to open and scream. I tilted my head upwards to avoid bursting the pools of tears that had formed in my eyes; I’d never give him the satisfaction of seeing my pain. This was something that I had learnt to do as a young boy while facing abuse from my father and late step-father.
A few days later, I heard Steve calling my name across the upstairs landing from the office. I opened my bedroom door and replied, “What is it?” Steve shouted back across the landing with no regard for the fact everyone could hear him, “You are not allowed to look at gay sites. I am banning them.” By the time he reached the word “gay” I’d already anticipated the rest of what he was going to say. My body froze and I felt like a boot had hit my stomach.
In one single sentence, a man that I wanted nothing to do with just emptied my life on a silver platter for all to hear.
I felt cold as my heart seemed to beat in slow motion. I’d avoided telling anyone about my sexuality since I’d been seriously bullied over it in secondary school and in one single sentence, a man that I wanted nothing to do with but who from no fault of my own I was forced to live with, had just emptied my life on a silver platter for all to hear.
Suddenly, everything came into lightning perspective. I’d not be able to run from these bullies – they live, eat and sleep in the same place as me.
Solomon is now 24 years old. He lived in children’s homes between the ages of 13 and 18 years. www.solomonalexandera.com
What an awful thing to happen to you at such a vulnerable time in your life. I’m gay and care experienced. I remember it causing me so much anxiety when I was in care, I couldn’t imagine telling anyone and I never did back then. It was the 80’s and the public attitude to being gay was terrible. It caused me so much confusion and compounded all the problems I already had.
I now work in residential care and have done most of my adult life. I’m glad to say that there is a much greater sensitivity to issues of children and young people’s gender and sexuality in my experience in care settings these days…..but we still do have a long way to go.
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Dear Solomon. You have been very brave to tell that story. I have a disabled son reliant on caters. Whilst at the moment all is well I am acutely aware of the fact some children and adults are vulnerable to the “carers” who don’t care
I hope you have found people you can trust now.