Monday of last week, I finally plucked up the courage to approach the wonderful charity Survive for some help to point me in the right direction to finding the help I need to deal with the effects of the abuse once and for all. My e-mail had a response in next to no time. Before I knew it, it was Thursday afternoon and I was walking towards the Priory Centre. It was strange, although I didn’t give detailed accounts of the each episode that I can remember I have never felt so validated as I did that afternoon. As i explained to the volunteer, I haven’t ever, without exception of the day I went to the police and the next day making the statement , talked in detail about what happened. And although that remains true, there was always a very specific reason. I was fully aware, even before I made my statement, that doing any therapy prior to a possible court appearance was always a bad thing, it opens the victim to be ridiculed by defence barristers who accuse the victim of false memories, planted during the therapy process. As I have said before I have always struggled with not being believed about what happened, so much so it has torn me apart as badly as the abuse itself.
It pleases me to hear that Kier Starmer QC the Director of Pubic Prosecutions has pushed for greater protection for victims during the court process. You can read more about his plans at the Guardian’s article Child sex abuse victims’ vulnerability must not be barrier to justice. The guidelines announced by Starmer states, “There is no bar to a victim seeking pre-trial therapy or counselling and neither police nor prosecutors should prevent therapy taking place prior to a trial,” This can only be a good thing for victims, equipping a victim of abuse with the right tools should reduce further trauma to the victim & reduce pernicious tactics by aggressive barristers. Another key thing in the guidelines is that once a victim has made their statement they should be informed of any other complaints received (but not details) that have been made against the same perpetrator. It’s hoped that this will help a victim engage with the legal processes and strengthen prosecution cases and thus securing more convictions. I really and most sincerely do hope that it has the desired effect. In my case, after I made the statement, which included other victims contact details (including my older sister who knew I’d made an allegation) that this was not the case and further evidence was unable to be gathered so unless the other victims, or victims I’m not aware of come forward my case will rest on file.
This makes me feel both angry and anxious, which leads me nicely to do something I’ve never really done, discuss with others my feelings towards what happened to me. As with everything about me even my feelings are complicated.
Firstly I am so very angry. I am angry that for whatever reason, this male decided to force me and others to perform various sex acts for his own perverted pleasure. I am angry that my own family let me down when I needed them to stand up and give me protection and support. I am angry that it took me so long to be heard. I am angry that I’m not strong enough to just get over it and let things go. I am angry that I have let his perversions fuck me up and every ounce of weight I’ve put on through comfort eating, or every scar upon my body that I have inflicted upon myself should never have happened. I am angry that I’m not able to sustain a job, a proper relationship or to raise and cherish kids of my own. I am angry that in all probability justice will never prevail and that he will get to live a free life, whilst I and his other victims fight our demons. I am angry that he can work unchecked with or near children, so much so he advertises his ability to build children’s playhouses and playgrounds.
Secondly I am saddened, I am saddened that despite being surrounded some truly wonderful and inspirational people, I feel so lonely. I am saddened that my life has pretty much been ruined and all I have to show for it is a degree, substantial debt, a list of diagnosis longer than my arm, and many, many scars both physical and mental.
Thirdly, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that what happened to me happened. I am ashamed that I am unable to maintain a relationship, physically, emotionally and sexually. I am ashamed that my body reacts the way it does to some night terrors. I am ashamed that i was unable to protect at least one more victim (potentially more) from being abused. I am ashamed that I can’t remember everything. I’m ashamed that I simply can not love me for what I am. I’m ashamed that there’s part of that’s not fully matured and developed. I feel ashamed for not being able to cope.
Fourthly I feel great guilt. I feel guilty that it took me so long to open up to the world. I feel such unbearable guilt that I was unable to stop him doing what he did to others. I feel guilty that I led me friend as a child into a situation that my secret led him to being abused. I feel guilty asking for support. I feel guilty for feeling the way I do. I feel guilty for feeling betrayed by my family. I feel guilty for wasting my life and existence.
Now I’m fairly sure you’re reading this, wondering why I can feel such strong emotions when what happened was not my fault. I understand and accept what he did was all his fault and blame should lie squarely at his door. I have, for as long as I can remember vowed if he abused anyone after me then I’d have have to take some responsibility. I feel that by not being able to stop him earlier then I am complicit in his vile acts. I’ve started to remember details about what happened that day when my friend was abused, and I do feel guilty that perhaps I should have told him to run as fast as he can and not share my shameful secret with him. Now maybe I’m applying adult reasoning to a situation where I was 4 but I know that even at an early age that going next door wasn’t right. I remember the occasion that we’d gone round for a cuppa with my godparents that he’d taken me upstairs to ‘look at his gerbils’ he’d not finished with me when my mum called it was time to go. He held up to his bedroom window and told me to tell mum I’d be home in a bit, if I didn’t, or if I let on anything was wrong he’d drop me out of the window. I still remember how terrified I was. Ironically that later in life I’d wish he’d have dropped me so I wouldn’t have to feel the things I feel. I remember that sometime before I started school I’d been playing up and somehow mum ended up going up the road shopping without me. I remember the terror and panic of going anywhere near my god parents house, because of him. This would reoccur several years later, when I first started getting migraines when I was 13. On one occasion the school nurse couldn’t get hold of mum because she was out so they called my godparents who were the next emergency contacts. So on top of feeling physically awful with my eyes, my head raging and throwing up constantly, I felt so much anxiety that I was going to spend the afternoon at my godparents, not knowing if he was there or if he still wanted to do those things to me.
Now I’m fairly certain that he will never be held to account for damaging lives so profoundly. And it does anger me, and also make me sad, but whilst there’s breath in my body I’ll keep working to find a way to find justice. Maybe even work towards a way to silence my demons. But with the proposed changes to the way victims of child abuse are treated by the justice system I can at least take comfort that for others at least that things are moving in a way to help victims of the most heinous of crimes.
If you have been affected by abuse, or by issues raised in this piece, or know someone who has, my love and thoughts are with you! If you have been a victim or are concerned for a child’s welfare you can contact the NSPCC on 08088005000 or http://www.nspcc.org.uk