Scotland

What happened at Nazareth House orphanages?

Old tricycle Image copyright Getty Images

The extent of the appalling abuse suffered by children in the care of nuns at the Nazareth House orphanages has been laid bare in a new report.

Over five decades, children were subjected to physical beatings and punishments on an almost daily basis.

In homes in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Ayrshire and Midlothian, they were humiliated, insulted and denigrated by adults charged with their care.

And in some cases, children endured "particularly depraved" sexual abuse by adults they should have been able to trust.

The details have emerged in a report by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, after it heard the evidence of more than 70 witnesses.

Here is a summary of some of the testimonies of former residents of the children's homes.

They lied that my parents were dead

Image caption Yvonne Radzevicius was given a different name while in the care of the Scottish nuns

Yvonne Radzevicius was one of more than 70 former residents of the Nazareth Houses whose evidence was heard by the child abuse inquiry.

The 76-year-old said she was lied to by nuns at the institution in Cardonald, Glasgow, who told her that her parents had died and she had no family.

Decades later she discovered that her mother and father were alive and that she had five brothers and sisters.

At the age of 10, she was sent to a Nazareth House facility in Australia where she was physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

'I feel like my life was stolen from me'

Image caption Paula Chambers was at Nazareth House in Glasgow in the 1980s

Paula Chambers told the inquiry she was sent to a shrine in France to cure her of a "mental illness" by a nun who called her evil.

The 45-year-old spent time at Nazareth House in Cardonald in the 1980s.

She said one nun told her she was in the institution because she was a "bad child" and her mother could not cope with her.

"I was evil, she said to me on a few occasions," she added.

A nun told me the devil was inside me

Helen Holland said she was eight years old when a priest and a nun began to sexually abuse her at Nazareth House in Kilmarnock.

She told the inquiry she suffered years of physical and emotional cruelty at the children's home in the 1960s and 1970s.

The nun repeatedly told her "the devil was inside her". She held Ms Holland down while the priest raped her.

Ms Holland was sexually abused over four years and raped by several men.

'There was nothing in my power I could do to stop it'

Image caption The man told the inquiry how the abuse started when he was seven

One man told the inquiry he was sexually abused by priests, care assistants and older boys over two years at Nazareth House in Lasswade, Midlothian.

The abuse began in the 1970s when he was seven.

The man, who cannot be named, said when he tried to report the abuse he was beaten or told to "stop telling lies".

"If the devil had come and said 'I'm taking you away from this place', I would have gone with him just to get out of there," he said.

'I was foaming at the mouth'

Image copyright Bill Harrison/Geograph
Image caption The witness claimed physical and mental abuse was part of the daily routine at Nazareth House in Aberdeen

Another woman told the inquiry that she and her two sisters were beaten until they bled on their first day at Nazareth House in Aberdeen.

She was 10-years-old when she arrived at the city orphanage in 1967, while her youngest sister was just a toddler.

Giving evidence, she said the nuns put on a show of "niceness" but became violent as soon as the sisters' social worker left the building.

In another incident, she described having her head smashed against a radiator until she was "foaming at the mouth".

'Your family doesn't want you'

Christopher Booth said he was 11-years-old when he was sent to Australia from Scotland, after a Nazareth House nun told him he was "garbage".

Now 77, Mr Booth told the inquiry the nun said: "Your family doesn't want you, your country doesn't want you."

He spent seven months enduring a "brutal" regime at the Aberdeen orphanage before being forced to emigrate in 1952.

The child was then sexually abused by priests at a care home in Tasmania.

Lady Smith, the chair of the child abuse inquiry, said she would take the findings of her latest report into account when she compiles her final recommendations.

The independent inquiry, taking place in Edinburgh, continues.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites