Six years ago whilst at university, I met a wonderful girl. She was beautiful from head to toe, from inside out. Much to most of my fellow students I questioned how could I attract such a beautiful girl. During one of our deep conversations she said something that caused me to open up to her. Never had I opened up this deep secret to anyone that wasn’t a Dr or therapist. I couldn’t quite believe I’d finally let go of my secret, I was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
For years I’d felt alone, haunted by the memories, often triggered by certain smells or colours. Inevitably the stress of the memories would set off feelings I would find hard to cope with and be the precursor to a breakdown.
There had been occasions when I’d tried to talk to people about what had happened. As a child, when it was happening I’d approached mum, telling her he was hurting me. Considering this was the late 70’s/early 80’s and a time where abuse was unheard of and certainly not talked talked about, it is little wonder she didn’t believe me. I don’t blame mum for not believing me, not only was it not the culture to talk about such things, I was so young my vocabulary wasn’t strong enough to articulate myself. There was an occasion at school when I approached my science teacher, but I was questioned with such suspicion I felt like the child I was years before, being hurt and violated all over for not being believed.
In the Autumn of 1996 I found myself in Dr Jones’ consulting room, consumed with self hate, suicidal feelings and flashbacks. I have no idea how long I was with him, but I must have overrun my allotted time with him. During this appointment I bawled my eyes out, curled up on the floor as I disclosed to my lifelong gp what I had gone through. It didn’t occur to me what he would do, or even the fact he was not just our family doctor, but the family doctor for the family of my abuser. To cut a long story short, he didn’t act upon my disclosure, but referred me to the local community mental health team. That psychiatrist instead of focusing on the very real and frightening memories, decided to focus on my so called abandonment issues of being adopted. It should be noted that although I was adopted at birth, I’ve never had an issue with it. My adoptive parents are my parents and I love them dearly, even if they do frustrate me at times. A similar experience happened 4 years later when I found myself hospitalised in the priory hospital. This time the consultant focussed on social anxiety, instead of what was really going on for me. I found myself loathing psychiatry almost as much as I loathed myself.
Wasn’t until the early 2001/02 when my cmht changed and I met Dr Sherrington. For the first time I could talk to a psychiatrist about what was tearing me up and she was listening with great empathy. She identified one thing that still rings strong in my mind. She knew that if I talk about anything and if the recipient doesn’t listen I find myself taken back to being the child who wasn’t believed, and she was right. She also said that she wouldn’t force me into making a statement to police, but urged me to consider it as it would be cathartic. During this time I met Caroline the art therapist, 52 sessions saw me start to look at my feelings particularly around my child. I suppose it was probably the first time my inner child and it’s voice could be heard and explored.
2006, during the summer vacation break after my second year at University I was visiting my parents when I took a phone call from an old childhood friend. My friend dropped a bombshell on me, that my abuser abused him on one occasion and he blamed me. I still don’t recall this episode of abuse but I do not for one minute disbelieve me, he said it happened so I know it happened. I still have feelings of guilt for him being abused. I didn’t need him to blame me, I’ll always blame myself for not getting myself heard, and the abuser stopped.
Was the following spring when I met the wonderful woman I started this post with. During the Easter vacation from uni I told her I needed to do something, so I phoned the NSPCC for advice. They told me if I was to make a statement I needed to go to Northallerton to do it. I needed some time to think about it so I went to see my university supervisor. Although he was aware of my fight with depression but he was shocked as to the cause of my struggles. He took me as if I were his own son and promised to come with to Northallerton. This almost broke me as the kindness shown by both my girlfriend and my supervisor, was kindness I’d never known before. I couldn’t bring myself however, to allow my supervisor give up his precious time to come with me to Northallerton so I made a decision.
The next morning, after little sleep, I dragged my arse over Millennium Bridge, which I stopped to contemplate what I was doing. After a couple of cigarettes and some soul searching, I proceeded to York Police Station. Ok granted I looked quite disheveled, and I understand the expression the wpc gave me, but I wasn’t there to sign the bail book. “Can I help you” she asked, quietly I replied “yes, I’m here to report a historic case of sexual abuse” “I’m sorry?” a little louder, so not all the reception area could not hear “I’d like to report a historic case of sexual abuse” asking me to wait a moment, she came out and ushered me into a room. Inside she listened to me recant from the first moment I was hurt, making notes. After what seemed an eternity, she got up and asked me to wait. She returned with her sergeant who questioned me about the details and whether I was sure about what I was claiming. For the first time instead of recoiling I let him know I knew what I was saying and what it meant. He asked me to wait, the wpc stayed with me and reassured me and comforted me. After a short while a detective from CID came in and introduced himself. The wpc wished me luck and left me in the hands of the detective. I recanted what had happened, he told me we’d need to make a full statement, which would have to be sent down to West Sussex Child Protection Team, as the offences took place there.
The following day the detective phoned me to see how I was, and to arrange a time and date to make the statement. He asked me if I wanted to do it at my home or at the station. I told him home would be better and I could do it any time convenient to him. He said he could be with me in 30 minutes, so I agreed. After 6 hours of intense statement making, with several tea and cigarette breaks my statement was finished, shakily I signed everything that needed signing saw him off. At that moment the words of Dr Sherrington rang through me, she was right, it was cathartic and I was moving towards closure. I saw it only right i gave her a phone call, although it had been 2 years since I saw her.
Wow, I’ve just seen the word count for this post, it’s nearly an essay, so I should wrap it up. Firstly I want to offer thanks to my ex-girlfriend, if you’re reading this, you know who you are, and I have so much love and thanks for you. Id also like to thank my supervisor, the support you gave me, kept me going through to get my degree, I’ll always regard you as my guru. Dr Sherrington, North Yorkshire Police, Caroline, NSPCC, I know it’s you job, but thank you for giving me the space and support I needed to do what needed to do.
Now although Pandora’s box has been opened and I can’t change a thing I am glad I finally summoned up everything inside of me to do it. Now although it summons up every ounce of courage to do, I would urge anyone who’s holding in a historic case of abuse to come forward. For more information contact the NSPCC on 08088005000 or http://www.nspcc.org.uk
If you have been affected by abuse, on know someone who has, my love and thoughts are with you!