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Sex abuse survivor and former footballer Paul Stewart hopes course will safeguard children

Posted: 5th August 2022

A former professional footballer from Blackpool has developed a safeguarding course to prevent children being sexually abused, like he was.

Paul Stewart, who played for LiverpoolManchester City and England, suffered four years of abuse by a coach at a grassroots football club in Manchester, which started just before his 11th birthday.

He was physically and sexually abused every day for four years, but did not tell anyone.

Paul said: “When a 35-year-old adult threatens to kill your parents and brothers, you actually believe them.

“These individuals are very clever, they isolate you, they groom you.

“In my parent’s eyes he was the best thing since sliced bread, when I was alone with him he was a monster.”

As an adult, Paul went on to play for England and represented sides including Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs.

Despite his successful career, the mental scars remained and he turned to drink and drugs to cope.

Paul said: “When I was playing for Liverpool I was taking cocaine every day.

“I played three times for England, I think I could have played a lot more, but I turned up drunk to the first England get-together.”

In 2016, 40 years after his ordeal began, Paul, along with other former footballers came forward with shocking stories of childhood abuse.

It was after coming forward Paul became determined to use his experience for good.

He was approached by online training company High Speed Training and has developed a course aimed at sports club coaches and parents to help them spot and report signs of abuse.

Paul Stewart hopes the course will give parents and children the confidence to speak up if something isn’t right.

He said: “I’m lucky in one way that I’m still here to tell my story. Some of my colleagues have taken their own lives because of the abuse.

“I really want to turn it around into a positive. I can’t change the past, but I would like to influence the future.”

Source: ITV.com

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