At ten years old, Callum Hancock was the victim of a sex attack from a bully who had already plagued much of his young life. The youngster kept the ordeal secret for years. Now aged 27, Callum, a boxer and scaffolder, is telling his story - as his attacker awaits sentence for his crimes. Callum wants to help others. Bob Westerdale listened to his courageous account.
“I was about 10 years old. I was building a den in the Birkhill area of Eckington and HE rocked up, pretending he was going to help me.
“He was five years older than me and had tormented me for years - he’d locked me in a garage, beaten me up numerous times. Once, he and another boy stripped off my clothes and threw me in freezing water in the dip of a BMX track. They whipped me with sticks. He had birds of prey and bit the head off a chick. That’s what he was like. He was terrifying” recalled Callum.
“I was wary and said he didn’t have to help me, but he insisted.
“Then, he raped me.”
After the attack, the teenager issued a warning. “He told me: ‘Everybody does this when you get older. This is what you do at big school. It’s like smoking. If you tell your parents you’ll be in a lot of trouble.’ “
The bully lived close by so Callum was relieved when his family moved to another part of Eckington.
“But I dreaded starting at Eckington Comp as he was still there. In that first year, I daren’t go to the toilets. I would run out of school to home or somewhere if I had to go. I was too scared to go where he might be.
“When he saw me at school, he would grab hold of me, in front of his pals, laughing, showing off.”
Callum was about 14 before he realised exactly how serious the attack on him had been.
“Shame, guilt, embarrassment, everything had set in. I didn’t want anybody knowing. Then by my mid-teens, I was filled with rage, anger, confusion - I didn’t feel like a man when I looked in the mirror. I blamed myself. Why did I allow this to happen? Why am I letting him get away with it? Why is he still breathing?
“I had sleepless nights. I wanted to get him back. If it wasn’t for my loved ones, I wouldn’t be here today.
“Murder and suicide were my best friend for years.
“I would flick from ‘I am going to kill him...no I’ll kill myself...or I’ll do both.’
“Murder or suicide seemed an easier option than speaking out, speaking the truth.”
Boxing helped him blank it out of his mind at times - “it was my saviour, a release in the gym for my pent-up frustration.”
But the inner rage sometimes got to Callum and three years ago he was jailed for 21 months for wounding at a night spot.
Then in August 2015, for the first time, he told his parents what had happened 14 years earlier.
“My Mum screamed the house down and I’ll never forget the look on my Dad’s face. Now it was out there. And life has going to be challenging after breaking my silence. But we all helped each other” said Callum.
In the winter of 2016, though, Callum was in a bad way.
He would lose focus whilst driving, his head slumped on the steering wheel, cars lining up behind him.
One one occasion, by chance, he bumped into his molester in a shop. Callum told him: “ ‘You’ve made my life a misery.’ He looked scared stiff.”
Callum followed up with a visit to the man’s house, where he spelled out the sordid details to his whole family.
“He sat with his head almost on the table, saying he couldn’t remember. I said: ‘Stop lying: ‘Here’s your chance to tell the truth.”
Eventually, Callum notified police.
“It was the best thing I’ve ever done. They came round in an unmarked car, no uniform, that’s important because nobody would know on the street what was happening.
“The investigation was tiring, draining...but very rewarding.
“They treated me with support and respect. I got my life back.”
Jason Lee Lyttle, aged 31, of Lightwood Road, Marsh Lane, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to buggery and two counts of indecent assault committed between January-July 2001. He is in jail awaiting sentence.
“After going to the police, I’ve gone from strength to strength,” said Callum, who is returning to competitive boxing after a three-year absence on September 28.
“I’ve opened up, revealed the truth and no longer living a lie. I’m a different person.
“I am moving forward and it’s important that people who have gone through this do not feel alone or to blame, as I did” said the super middleweight.
“People can be assured they’ll get support. You are not on your own. For me, it is never about the perpetrator. It is always about yourself, your loved ones and your entire life.
“I am not bothered what happens to him in court. I just want to wipe the slate clean and enjoy my life, free of the torment.
“All I ever wanted was for me to be not judged, not criticised and believed. I want to live a pure life and start with new beginnings. “I am better Callum Hancock now than I was before.”
Callum is working with Duncan Craig of ‘Survivors Manchester’ a voluntary organisation that aims to create “a safe space for male survivors of sexual abuse.” Ideally, a similar set-up will be launched in Sheffield.
*In Sheffield, male victims of abuse can ring a helpline (0808 802 9999) or go to sheffieldrapecrisis.org.uk/services. Alternatively, ring victim support (0300 303 1976.)