‘I tormented myself’ – Sadlier on suffering child abuse

‘I tormented myself’ – Sadlier on suffering child abuse

Former Republic of Ireland footballer and RTÉ soccer analyst Richie Sadlier has revealed that he was sexually abused as a child.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Late Late Show he said the abuse happened over a period of six weeks when he was 14 years old, by a man who was treating him for a sports injury.

He said he had initially kept the abuse a secret from his family and friends and looks back on that decision now with regret.

He said because he never had a conversation about it, he was left alone with his own interpretation of what had happened.

“I thought if you knew this about me, that would be the end of us as a friend, as a partner or whatever.”

“My interpretation of what happened was, this was my failing. If you told me now that a kid went through what I went through and you showed me a photo of the adult who did it and the 14-year-old who was involved, I would have no trouble pointing out who was in the wrong, but when I went through it myself, I almost gave him a free pass.”

He said it is a “weird thing to explain” and he questioned why he did not stop it, why he did not run or tell someone.

‘If you don’t tell someone what you’ve gone through … you don’t get the opportunity to hear out loud what your thoughts are’ | Richie Sadlier has revealed that he was sexually abused as a child, says he regrets keeping it secret from family and friends | One in Four 01 662 4070 pic.twitter.com/0EIr4CbapY

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 5, 2019

“I tormented myself with those questions for years. And because I didn’t tell anyone, like if you were a pal of mine I would never tell you.

“But looking back on it if you don’t tell someone what you are going through, you don’t give your mates the opportunity to give their version of events or you don’t get the opportunity to hear your thoughts out loud, and my thoughts were bonkers about the whole thing. But I thought it was my failing.”


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He said the more he thought about it as that, he was more determined that no one would find out.

He described himself as a 14-year-old who was “very confused, silent and afraid”.

He feared if someone found out what was going on, it would bring shame.

Richie Sadlier’s wife Fiona was in the audience

“I thought if you knew this about me, that would be the end of us as a friend, as a partner or whatever.”

He recalled a training session when he first told someone about the abuse and he had a moment with one of the adults who asked how he had been getting on with the treatment for his injury.

“I told him a couple of things. I said I have to get naked for every session and I told him one other thing that was the nature of the thing going on in the room.

“He found it amusing and there was another man just out of earshot. He alerted the other fellow to the story and it was a joke. Everyone was laughing.”

“I thought I will throw drugs into it as well. It was difficult and emotional and I was really hurt.”

Richie said he resorted to self-protection where “I said I better laugh along too”.

He said he never considered raising the issue again until five years later he told his mother.

“I remember being back in the kitchen afterwards swearing with anger about the other person.”

He also recalled a memory of telling a friend who advised him not to ever say it to anyone.

“I remember going yeah, you’re right.”

Richie said he turned to alcohol and his life turned into football days and drinking days.

“Then when I retired at the age of 24 it was just drinking days. And because I was not being drug tested anymore, I thought I will throw drugs into it as well. It was difficult and emotional and I was really hurt.”

He said he got “into a mess for a long time” but he eventually went to therapy which proved successful and he gave up alcohol at the age of 32 and was in recovery for over two years.

He said he has since “hit the jackpot”, meeting and marrying his wife Fiona.

His book ‘Recovering’ which details his road to recovery was published yesterday.

 

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