ALL my life I have been aware of people passing my way, who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.
But, to protect myself, and my own frailties, I have not questioned or drawn them close to talk about their lives… I metaphorically walked by on the other side.
This was until I met one very special person, who in hindsight became the catalyst I had waited almost a lifetime to meet.
Jay (not her real name) was damaged, just like me, and when we met she was emerging from the hell of a court case, which saw her father jailed for 10 years for the vile damage he had inflicted on her when she was a child.
She wrote this heart-wrenching tale for me at the time. I am rebooting it to try and help people understand the utter hell and damage created by paedophilia and child abuse:
“It all began when I was eight years-old, and looking back on it, there was obviously a premeditated plan in place all along.
At first it was almost imperceptible.
Cleverly disguised as the occasional misplaced hand, I would ask myself if I was just imagining it.
Now I realise this was ‘testing the water’ to see if I had the guts to speak out.
But I was terrified of him and said nothing.
And from within that first ever silence was borne unwitting complicity in years of unspeakable evil acts.
From the first touch – a slowly sweeping hand draped casually over my shoulder, fingers brushing against my undeveloped chest – I knew it was wrong.
Without ever having to be told good from evil, I felt innately that this behaviour was sickeningly out of place, for someone in a position of parental trust.
From that first moment, I was frightened, betrayed and trapped.
As soon as he knew I was keeping quiet, he began his quest in earnest.
It quickly became sessions of being touched inappropriately behind a locked bathroom door.
Where was my mother? How could she possibly not know what was happening? Why didn’t she rescue me?
Even when I wanted to shower before school, he would insist on being in the bathroom to have his morning shave – watching me in the mirror, and then weighing me naked on the scales, so that he could stand over me and ‘assess’ my body fat, marking up my weight on a wall-chart, and telling me how very ugly I was. I still hate bathroom scales to this day.
When I was 12, my mother went back to work, and my father notched up his activity levels immediately.
It developed into having to perform horrible rituals for two hours at a time, whilst she worked.
Tied into activities that he’d always told me were ‘normal and happened in every family’, by the time I realised it was all very far from normal, I couldn’t say anything to anyone.
The sessions became more sinister as I got older.
He would make me use horrible equipment, and forced me to look at pornographic magazines, making me pleasure him and – well before I was even 16 – he moved on to both kinds of rape.
He would unleash the fullest extent of his anger upon me if I didn’t make a good job of everything he required of me, and punishment was always of a much worse sexual nature.
Once I had gone through puberty, it didn’t matter to him what time of the month it was, so the fear of pregnancy hung over me like a constant black cloud.
I was endlessly at the doctors with internal problems and suffered terrible depression – which I still do to this day.
I spent hours either locked away in my room contemplating suicide, or walking the streets of my town to avoid him.
As I approached my final exams, it became clear that any books or equipment I needed to make sure of good grades, were going to have to be painstakingly ‘earned’.
The horror of this broke my spirit for further education and I left home on the day of my 18th birthday, with my few pathetic possessions in one canvas bag.
I tried to make a normal life, but it was impossible.
For 40 years I felt isolated, betrayed, dirty and abandoned.
I ricocheted back and forth in a succession of disastrous relationships, unable to find any stability.
But I never gave up hope of justice being done, and now that evil man is serving time for his crimes, which is a small compensation for what I endured.
And also, I never gave up hope of one day being, loved, valued and cherished.
These words mean nothing to those of us who have had a lifetime of being used, broken and disrespected.
Now I am slowly picking up the pieces and putting a life together. It can be done. No matter how late on in life, and how badly damaged we are, we are all worthy of being loved.
And if I am living proof of anything at all, it is the fact that there is always a tiny flicker of hope out there, somewhere in the darkness.”
Sadly, Jay’s and my relationship, which was always mutually caring, did not last.
In hindsight I guess we were both too damaged and the time was wrong. But I will always love her because she gave me the courage to face my own demon.
But it took another few years and a nervous breakdown for that to happen.
When I did come out and publicly write about my own abuse, the pressure was released and a recovery of sorts began.
Since then many, many friends have come to me and told me of their own harrowing stories of childhood sexual abuse – some had been friends for many years and had never breathed a word of what had gone before.
Other confidantes are complete strangers. One such person is Sam Hill, author of An Oath to Hell http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Oath-Hell-Sam-hill/dp/1492248940 whom I met simply through a Twitter friendship. You can read more about Sam’s abuse and her battle to be heard here: https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/an-oath-to-hell-sam-hill/
Gradually we survivors have become a network of sharing, and in doing so are helping each other along the road to further recovery and strengthening.
And that network keeps growing.
Over the past few days I have been reading, editing and transcribing some poems written by one of those people… a new and lovely friend who was abused for six years by her own brother.
I will called her Justine for the sake of this article, but again I have protected her real name.
I am entranced by the power of her words and the hell from which she has emerged.
More than twice she has tried to end her own life, but keeps going for the sake of her own children. And throughout it all she has documented every moment with poetry.
This particular one brought tears to my eyes:
Release these chains, pick this lock
Try anything you can
Please don’t give up
See me for who I am
Please stay patient
I know I appear to be spiteful and cruel
Don’t be blinded by my reputation
There’s a good person inside, a hidden jewel
Just because it’s lost doesn’t mean it can’t be found
It screams and screams
But that doesn’t mean you hear its sound
Hidden reality that lies in dreams
Something that’s old can be renewed
Princesses are awoken by a kiss
I just need to be rescued
Returned to what I miss
I can change the hand I’ve been dealt
I know I can win But I also need help
Please, don’t give in
Her poems remind me of my own, but are so much more powerful and tell a different story. Now she is beginning to write her own harrowing autobiography, which I am sure may one day become a best seller. whole
This reading/writing/editing process could easily have brought me down, but crazily instead it is uplifting and warming. Because, you see, we are never alone.
So for anyone who may have suffered sexual or physical abuse as a child, the salvation is to reach out and speak out… we are here.
We are always here.