Kieron Dyer's message to others after speaking out about childhood abuse
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Former Ipswich Town footballer Kieron Dyer has urged communities to speak up for victims after courageously recalling his own experience of childhood sexual abuse.
The former international midfielder movingly opened up about living with the trauma of abuse after being after being forced to withdraw from the latest series of Channel 4 show, Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
The 42-year-old first publicly discussed his experience in 2018 and was appointed ambassador of local charity Fresh Start - new beginnings (FSNB), which provides a therapeutic service for children and young people who have reported being sexually abused in Suffolk and Norfolk.
After being forced to withdraw from the show on medical grounds, Dyer told instructors Mark Billingham and Ant Middleton: "From today, when I come out of here, I am not a victim of sexual abuse – no more.
"Because every time I'm a victim, he wins. Every time I hurt my family, he wins."
Following the broadcast, speaking on behalf of FSNB, Dyer called on communities to spot the signs of abuse and reach out for help as soon as possible.
“What happened to me happens to so many other young kids out there," he said.
"It’s such a hidden crime – 90% of sexually abused children know their abuser – so perpetrators get away with this horrific behaviour for too long.
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“For years it defined me and my life went in the wrong direction.
"I got help and it changed everything because it showed me that none of what happened was my fault, and I didn’t have to live with the damage it had caused. I could change my life.
“Now, I don’t see myself as a victim, I’m living the life I want to live, with people I love and I want others to see that.
"My message to other people going through what happened to me is to stay strong and to ask for help. It is not your fault and there are so many people who can support you.
"I also want every parent, teacher, doctor, sports coach, friend, neighbour to speak out if they see something wrong.
"Abused kids are often going through this on their own and need people to step in and get them the help they need.”
Patsy Johnson-Cisse, managing director of FSNB, which supports about 200 children per year, with an average of 50 children on the waiting list, said: “Kieron is living proof that with the right support, victims of sexual abuse can reclaim their lives. We need more people to be aware of the fact that, sadly, this does happen in today’s society, it is going on behind closed doors and we need communities to act as eyes and ears, reporting anything they think isn’t right."
Anyone with concerns can talk directly to the police or local children's social services.
You can also get advice or report concerns anonymously to the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
More information on FSNB can be found at fsnb.org.uk.