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Princess Diana’s brother reveals a heartbreaking family secret

via People
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Charles Spencer, the younger brother of Princess Diana, revealed as an adult that he was sexually abused as a child.

At age 42, during a therapy session aimed at addressing his failed marriages and unhappiness, Spencer first disclosed to his therapist that he had been abused.

This prompted him to examine his past and confront painful memories from his time at an elite English boarding school, Maidwell Hall.

“I was doing a 10-day course of very deep introspection and therapy,” Spencer said. “My therapist said to each of us, ‘Whisper to me one secret you’d never told anyone.’ I whispered to him that I was sexually abused as a child by an adult. And I remember him looking so shocked, and he had heard it all. Afterward, he took me aside and said, ‘This is very serious stuff.’”

“By that stage, I had children,” he said. “I suddenly put it into context. What if one of my children of either gender had been subjected to this as an 11-year-old? It made my blood boil. I then started to allow myself to feel the full devastation of what had happened to me.”

Spencer has since written a memoir detailing alleged abuse he experienced there at age 11 by a female assistant, including being groomed and losing his virginity to a sex worker at age 12.

Through interviews, Spencer aims to shed light on the brutality, cruelty and pervasive abuse he and others faced daily with little recourse.

“It was considered essential to send your children away to places where they would meet the right people,” Spencer said. “These privileged kids would meet and form lifelong bonds at a price. You were ripped away from your family, and you’d probably be subjected to pretty brutal behavior.”

“But this was a trade-off that was in place and still is, I guess, among the upper classes of England. You don’t have to bother with child-rearing, and you can get on with your pampered lives. At the same time, the kid will come out with huge social advantages and a network of friends that will support those social advantages for a lifetime.”

“It was a brutal experience,” he said. “The headmaster was a sadistic pedophile. He staffed a very small number of teachers in this place who were either … perverted or would never tell tales against him. There wasn’t really anyone to go to.”

“I think my parents had no idea of the level of cruelty and perversion that was going on. They would never have sent me there. I think they probably had an old-fashioned view that corporal punishment, the beatings, would probably be part of the school. But they were such a ritual part of every day. There were 72 boys and at least a half dozen of us would be beaten every day. Your time came around very quickly. I don’t think the parents had any knowledge of that.”

“There were certain things you would get beaten for,” Spencer said. “If you spoke after the lights had been turned off. If you spilled water or milk accidentally. I remember one boy was at the school gymnasium. He was standing against these bars on a wall when he put his arms back and said, ‘Look, I’m Jesus Christ!’”

“He was whipped very badly for blasphemy. He was just a little boy having a moment of humor. These were perverted adults taking advantage of these boys … and we had no communication with the outside world.”

“We were just left there at the mercy of some really dangerous people,” Spencer said.

“She was the closest person to me growing up,” Spencer said of his sister Diana. “We had two much older sisters and a baby brother who had died. Then there was Diana and me. We were very close. And, actually, that was one of the devastations of being sent away. She was sent a year ahead of me, but for the first few years of my life, we went everywhere together.

“We did everything together. We went to a very gentle primary school together, a day school, [before boarding school]. She was an absolutely lovely older sister to a little boy whose parents were divorced and had quite a traditional English upbringing. We were allies.”

“I was so confused by my endless romantic disasters, deep unhappiness and two divorces,” he said. “I also wanted to do something for my children. Actually, that was the spur. I wanted to get better for them, so I could be a better father. I don’t know if they would agree that I managed it, but that was my aim. And I think, if I hadn’t been a parent, I probably would have just gone on … coping. [Saying it out loud] was surprisingly helpful. It didn’t get to the root of the problem, but it sent me on a course of more honest therapy.”

While addressing his trauma through therapy and techniques, Spencer hopes his revelations will help other victims and push the school to honestly confront its past.

“I’ve got a whole armory of support techniques to try and get to a better place,” he said.

“I would tell [my younger self] it wasn’t his fault,” Spencer said. “As a child, you’re always thinking it’s your fault. I used to think I must have failed as a son to be sent away to such a place and not be part of the family. … But I would tell him, ‘You’re fine. You’ve come out on the other side.’”

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