A man who was sexually abused after his mother became involved with an extreme religious order has written a memoir about finding sanctuary in music and going on to forge a successful career in TV.

Johnny Daukes, who was raised in Didcot, was groomed and abused by a ‘spiritual advisor’ who became influential in the family after his mother became involved with Opus Dei.

The Catholic order encourages members to tie a spiked metal chain around their upper thigh until it draws blood, and flagellate themselves with a small whip.

He said: "My mum got involved in Opus Dei in the early 70s when we lived in London and I started going to the Opus Dei Grandpont Boys’ Club. The guy who ran it became my abuser.

"My mum was inherently trusting of him and the organisation. He became quite friendly with our family and started coming for supper and stuff.

"A further complication was that he was allocated to us as a spiritual adviser. That means you are supposed to tell them your innermost thoughts so that you can be forgiven by God. So they know everything about you and are advising you, and it was that power relationship."

The abuse started when he was 10.

He writes: "My life until I was ten was football, bicycles, mates, school and a slightly chaotic but fun family."

When he was 12 or 13 work had begun at the boys’ club to renovate a stable block into a permanent centre with a kitchen, showers, workshop and a living room.

He explains how he was groomed by his abuser whom he nicknamed 'Bananas'.

"As the work progressed two things happened. Firstly, I became quite adept at helping 'Bananas' with rudimentary carpentry, plumbing, brickwork and electrics.

"Secondly, this became an excuse for our staying at the under-construction club in Oxford and/or at the lodgings he’d begun renting.

Oxford Mail:

"Bananas would always offer enticing food and drink. I can recall the first time he cooked me a whole gammon steak and chips, as a pre-teen this seemed impossibly indulgent.

"As I grew older, toward 13 or 14, he began to take me to the Mitre, a Berni Inn in Oxford where I was initiated into some of his ideas as to how ‘proper’ people ate.

"In the second year of St. John Bosco RC Middle School as I began to mature, his sexual obsession and innuendo ramped up and became physical."

Bananas bought a house in Didcot "which made it much easier and more convenient for him to have me stay over.

"To this day I have no idea how my parents felt it was reasonable, necessary or in any way healthy for this to happen - in the town where we lived - but it did.

"There were countless occasions in darkened bedrooms where I’d feel his sleeping form move and I knew that would be the precursor to a hand sliding across toward me. Sometimes I’d pretend to be asleep - turn over with my back to him."

When he reached 16, Johnny finally put a stop to the abuse.

"It was a combination of reaching a tipping point - the compounded realization that what he’d been doing for five years was wrong - and my getting bigger and strong enough that I could finally resist him physically."

Johnny also believes showing an adult strength made him much less attractive to his abuser.

The end of five years of sexual abuse coincided with him beginning to play the guitar and write.

In the early ‘90s, he started the successful indie band Fin and it was on rediscovering lyrics written for the band in his attic, that he realised every song was about his trauma – he just hadn’t realised it at the time.

Having left home for London, he also found himself working as a runner, then editor and producer for MTV.

While editing the music programme Rapido, presented by Antoine de Caunes, he was asked to voice Eurotrash which he worked on for 16 series.

Oxford Mail:

In 2003 Johnny, who attended St. Edmund Campion Upper School in Oxford, tried to prosecute Bananas but "the family fractured and pretty much united against me. It became impossible to pursue it. I was literally the only voice which stood up."

His memoir Shadowman has already achieved glowing early endorsements from the likes of novelist John Niven, rock critic Peter Paphides, broadcaster Stuart Maconie and Mat Osman from the band Suede.

Johnny said: "Everybody thinks abusers are the weirdo, it's the monster, and it's not. So many people have read the book and said, that's close to what happened to me. It's an epidemic and it's destructive.

"Once that innocence is upset and perverted you haven't got a chance.

"It's unusual for an adult male to admit to this. All victims spend their lives feeling shame. But I feel liberated. I want to talk to people about it."

Shadowman: Records of a Life Corrupted by Johnny Daukes is out now (Red Door Books, £12.99 hardback).

  • Johnny has re-recorded 11 songs for an album Shadowman: Records Remade.  https://johnnydaukesmusic.bandcamp.com/



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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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