AFTER I TOLD
“Hello, I don’t want to bother you, but if you could please advise me?
I read a bit about you and your life. I am 20 and something similar is happening, I am so scared to run away or tell someone, but I want it to end so very badly. Could you suggest anything please?” it was signed simply ‘Jade’
As soon as I read the email I knew I would help the sender.
Since writing my life story, I DID TELL I DID, as a book and it being published a few years ago, I had helped many readers of all ages, to either come forward and tell someone what was happening or had happened to them. In some cases they just needed to off load to someone who had suffered in the same way they had. I think victims of sexual abuse know that other sufferers will understand. Helping others was after all the reason I DID TELL was written in the first place. I was happy to be able to be there for anyone who needed me.
It was a gloomy day the 31st May 2012 when this email arrived on my desk. I had walked up to my study with a heavy heart and switched on my computer. It’s a lovely room with double aspect so is quite bright. The walls are a warm creamy colour, the curtains are striped, cream, orange and charcoal, very 1930’s like the house we had moved into 2 years before. The floor is oak with a large comfortable rug in the centre. A peaceful space in which to work. In the corner of the room is a sofa and in front of the window, is a raised dog bed for my little chums, Ellie Mae and Cody, my Shih-Tzus. They sit there happily for hours while I work.
The scenes from my windows are beautiful, looking out over fields, trees and the stream, towards where the mountains meet the sky, from the large window at the front and out to the paddocks and our duck filled lakes from the small window. breathtakingly beautiful.
But the day before this email arrived, the beauty had been tarnished. The month of May had ended with great sadness, my wonderful horse, Evening Star, whom I had known since her birth, 23 years ago and who had lived with us for 21 of those years, had left us for that Rainbow Bridge people talk about. I hope that’s true, Rainbow Bridge I mean. The loss was huge, the grief too heavy. On the 30th May the sunshine had gone out of my life and I needed to grieve.
The evening I lost this beautiful friend and companion, I had written on a social networking site, my feelings of great sadness and loss. I had many readers and friends who said they looked forward to my uplifting daily blog about my animals and my life ‘on the farm’. I felt I needed to let them know why I wouldn’t be writing for a while. Allow myself time to work through my sadness and grief.
So it wasn’t an ordinary day when this email arrived, ordinary days had stopped yesterday, ordinary, happy days.
2012 was supposed to be a happy year. Britain was staging the Olympics, the Queen was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, we were all optimistic that things in life were getting better. But on that not an ordinary day, I wasn’t feeling that way, I was fragile and vulnerable and sad.
I had no reason not to answer this email, no reason to suspect the horror that was to unfold after I had replied. My own grief and sadness would have to wait, someone needed me and I would reply.
I didn’t say anything to Daniel, my husband or Lucy, my youngest daughter who had come back home to live. They both knew I often helped readers who approached me and also knew that it was confidential so didn’t ask questions. They had always supported me, both with my writing and my helping others. I was lucky to have such an understanding family.
I sat down and began typing.
“Hi Jade. Please tell someone, someone you trust to believe and help you. What is happening is wrong.
If you need support please write back and I will see if I can do anything. But please tell someone.
A Doctor, a priest, your Mum, your Dad anyone whom you trust. If you can’t do this, then ask a friend to go with you to the police. They will make it stop.
Please keep in touch and let me know you are okay.
Love and hugs
It was late, I didn’t expect a reply, at least not as quickly as Jade answered me.
“It’s my Dad that’s hurting me. Though he isn’t my real Dad, I don’t know who he is,
he married my Mum, then adopted me when I was young. I can’t tell my Mum as she
died in a car accident when I was 9, the age my Dad started this.
He says I should be lucky, and grateful to him because he has looked after me for the past 10 years. I know I should be thankful to him, so telling someone would be like me not being grateful (if you get me?) Then there is the thought of ‘why would anyone believe me, he’s looked after me, and been kind to let me live with him, he wouldn’t hurt me, I’m a trouble maker’
I have no-one.
I knew that feeling only too well, having no one. My heart went out to this poor girl. I was going to leave things until the following day but felt I needed to give her some hope, some belief that she would be okay, that if I could I would help her.
Daniel called up to me “It’s getting late love, don’t stay on that computer too long, you are still very tired after Wednesday, you need to rest’. He didn’t mention what happened on ‘Wednesday’ he didn’t have to. None of us were actually talking about it as we usually did when one of our beloved animals left us, but this was different, Star was special and we all felt the pain, I’m sure both he and Lucy were suffering but I had to push it away for now. No time for grief at the moment I had to try to get some help for Jade.
“I won’t be long Daniel, just write one more email and then I will come down and get ready for bed’. I meant this. I was going to write back to this poor girl and re assure her, then turn the computer off.
I had to make her see that there was help out there and what her stepfather Dave, was doing was wrong and it had to stop.
You do have someone now, you have me. Where-about‘s are you? Not your actual address, just whereabouts, are you in the UK? Please write back and let me help you if I can. You are not alone now, you have me. This is the first step to this ending if you can be strong enough. The hardest thing is to tell someone and now you have. Yes, he was good to you in but he adopted you so any man would have looked after his daughter, whether adopted or not. He isn’t looking after you by hurting you. You have no reason to feel grateful to someone who has abused you and your mum’s trust by doing this to you.
Please write back to me and let me see what we can do together.
I sat there for a moment, how could she feel grateful to someone who was doing anything but looking after her! I know how abusers can lay the blame on their victims, how the child, in this case, can feel guilty for all kinds of reasons. But whatever was happening she needed help and that is what she would get. I waited for her to reply and began to get myself ready for bed. I wasn’t sleeping much but went through the usual routine, letting the dogs out for their last short run around the garden and then was going to put the computer to bed when I saw an email. Part of me wanted to leave it until the morning but I could sense the urgency in this girl’s messages, I checked that it was from her and sat down to read her reply.
‘Hello, I can’t believe you want to help me. I’ve gone years thinking this is my problem, no one will care, I’m a bit overwhelmed.
I am in the UK, Midlands. I would love for you to help me please, and I can try my best, though I don’t think I am strong enough at all, I mean I let him hurt me. It’s my fault.
Thank you for the ‘email hugs’ it’s much better than hugging a pillow. Nobody has hugged me since my mum died, so I’m going to return the hugs.
I’m so scared.
Thank you, and you take care
That hit home, no hugs for all those years. They say that there are no better hugs, than those from your Mum, I wouldn’t know that, having never been hugged by my own mum but Jade did and then her mum died and the hugs stopped. I warmed to her straight away, she seemed so scared and needing help. There was a part of me that was angry, angry that her step father had been able to hurt her and then place the blame on her, leaving her feeling that she had ‘let him’. But anger helped no one and I had to help this girl and that’s what I intended to do. I had to answer now, let her feel comforted and hopeful that it would soon end, she would soon be safe.
You must never think you ‘let him’ hurt you. You never ‘let him’, you were 9 years old when this started and he not only abused you sexually and still is, he abused your mum’s trust in him. I know really know, how hard it is to stop this once it has started. I want so much to help, what would you like me to do? I can’t travel to see you but could talk to anyone you would like me to talk to, on your behalf and then support you via email as much as I can.
I wish I could be there with you to give you a hug but I can’t.
Please let me know how to help you, if you want to send me your address so that I can begin the support for you, let me know. If you want me to tell someone on your behalf, in confidence not telling your ‘Dad’ then I will but you need to give me your permission.
There are people who can save you from this Jade, it will mean possibly removing you from where you are and taking steps to punish this man. I don’t know but it has to stop.
He has stolen your childhood Jade, stolen your growing up years, don’t let him steal anymore of your life.
I am here for you Jade, will be as long as you need me to be but there is only so much I can do from so far away. It will be hard, taking this step but not as hard as going into womanhood still being hurt and damaged by this man.
I check my emails every day and will reply asap.
Please let me know what you want me to do love.
Here is another load of hugs, warm and safe.
YOU OWE HIM NOTHING.
I was angry again, I can’t remember ever being so angry so often.
It was very late and I didn’t expect another reply so reluctantly got ready for bed.
As I crawled in beside, Daniel, my husband,he put his arm around me. I felt so bad, I knew he was grieving for our beloved horse, I knew that usually we, as a family, Daniel, Lucy and I would share our grief, share our memories and process the previous few weeks together. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t a conscious thing, pushing the grief aside, I didn’t consciously shut Daniel out. I just knew how fragile I felt and needed to stay strong for Jade. When she was sorted, helped and safe, I could talk about our loss, we could be together as we always had been and I would comfort my family and they would do the same for me. But not now, not tonight. I said nothing and closed my eyes and pretended to sleep.
I didn’t sleep well, the hollow feeling of loss that I had from losing Star seemed twice as big now. I had to push it aside, box it up to enable me to be there for this poor young woman who so needed help.
The following morning, Saturday 2nd June I was up really early and put my computer on straight away. Daniel had brought breakfast up to our bedroom as he always did and I had walked into my study and opened the curtains to look out at the ponies. The field looked empty now, just small ponies, not the big black presence that was Star. They all looked quiet and subdued and I realised that I hadn’t been there for them either. Horses grieve, I know that, having lost ponies before, and had always been aware of the sadness in the herd left behind. The confusion of the young animals and the grief of the older ones. When our ponies or horses leave us, I spend extra time with the others, lots of cuddles and hugs and eventually playing with them. Reassurance that life goes on. But the email at the end of May changed everything. Once today was over and I had helped Jade get out of the horrid situation she was in, I would be there for my animal family and my husband and daughter. But now, just for now, I needed to be there for her. The dogs were asking to go out but I sat at my desk to read if she had written. Cody and Ellie sat down at my feet and sighed, they would wait patiently to go into the garden. My email account appeared and there it was, a message from her. She had done what I asked of her and thought of some way out of this place she was calling home but that was anything but.
I think there is someone I could tell. My aunt, we email occasionally as she lives so far away, but she is the only family I have contact with. My dad doesn’t know I speak to her and she kind of knows something is wrong at home, but I think she thinks he is just a bit strict. Would you be able to email her please? I have no idea what to say to her. What if telling her makers her angry? But before I can change my mind, her name is Jen, here is her email address. I’m not sure I’m ready for her to know everything, maybe you could just tell her something along the line of him hurting me. (I’m not good at wording what I want to say, so if I never make sense, please say)
Why is it I feel so guilty about telling ‘the secret’? I hate him! He hurts me and all I ever do is try to please him. I made my mum crash the car by being naughty, maybe if I forgive him, he will forgive me for killing his wife?? Please tell me everything is going to be okay.
I couldn’t just say it was all going to be okay, of course I wanted it to be, I would do all I could to make sure it was but I couldn’t say it would. I felt that as she had now given me a contact for her aunt, between us we could get this young girl to safety and take it from there. If I could persuade the aunt, Jen, to at least go and see her, perhaps thing would improve. Her message made me angry once again, how many times had I read emails like this, how many times had I felt this way myself. It had to stop! The important thing was to help her get out of this horrible place, away from this man she called ‘Dad’ and be looked after and loved.
I was relieved to now have a name, a person I could contact and ask for help for Jade. I was going to write straight back but Nature must have forgotten it was the beginning of June. The heavens opened and the rains came. Rain like I had never seen before. I remember thinking, that’s just how I feel. I looked up to the heavy cloud laden sky and felt a kinship with the elements. Grey, heavy, storm filled and miserable. Yes, that was me.
Rain in June was usually okay but the fields were still not recovered from the previous rain. The Spring had been wet and no respite at the beginning of Summer and now this. So our paddocks were soon under water and we had to bring the ponies in. All of us, Daniel, Lucy and I made up beds with fresh bedding, hay and water and eventually our little depleted herd was once again in the barn. Dry and out of the weather.
Soaked and tired I went up to bath and change. By this time it was late evening and I felt so tired. The Jubilee celebrations were beginning and I was looking forward the next day being a quiet Sunday, with Daniel, watching them on TV. The meal I had planned wasn’t going to happen now, spending so much time outside that couldn’t be avoided, it meant a quick stir fry. I cut up all the vegetables and began to cook, I started up the laptop so that I could write to Jade whilst I was preparing and cooking our evening meal. Nothing came.
After we had eaten, I went back into the kitchen to clear things away and then go to bed when I saw another email from her.
I wasn’t ready for what I read.
Oh Cassie, I’m sorry for another message, I didn’t know what to do, or nobody to turn to.
Dad started to rape me, I told him, in not a nice way, that I didn’t want him to do it and he can’t do this anymore. He yelled at me saying, I owed him since I had ruined his life by killing my mum and he had to look after me! Then he hit me, he punched me so hard I fell to the ground, he started kicking me, I thought he was going to kill me. I’m not sure if it’s the pain or how scared I am right now but I can’t move.
Please forgive me for saying this, but I wish it was my Dad in the car accident and not my Mum. I wish he was dead. And if God punishes me for saying that, then I will put up with God’s punishments, I’ve been through worse.
I was absolutely thrown by this email, my thoughts were racing and I knew things had to happen very soon. If only I could ring this poor girl, I was imagining all kinds of things and wasn’t sure what to do next. I also knew that this man she called Dad, was a nasty piece of work and seemingly dangerous, I couldn’t make things worse for her.
What was I thinking? How could they be worse! Where was she now, within the house I mean? Is he still there or has he left her on her own? So much I didn’t know and so my imagination was all over the place. Daniel walked into the kitchen and could see I was upset.
“What is it Cassie?’ he is always so caring and concerned, ‘”what has happened?”
I just looked at him, I had never told my family any details about girls whom I had helped but this time I had to talk to someone and Daniel was the down to earth someone, who could always put things in perspective. After telling him about the first email and the subsequent ones about Jade and what was happening to her, I told him about the rape.
“You need to tell her aunt, she is this girl’s family and will be able to help her. She will know where her niece lives and get the help this young woman needs. But not tonight.”
“Why not tonight?” I said “Why shouldn’t I write tonight?”
Daniel sighed and smiled at me, he came over and put his arm around my shoulders,
“Just think about it love, she could be in bed, it’s so late, an email like this will be a shock to her. Write in the morning,, that will be best. She may not want to help and will only be angry with you writing so late. She may not even have her email on, most people don’t at this late hour”.
He was right of course. Not everyone is logged into their emails late on a Saturday, I am usually in bed and so are most people or out on the town. My husband said he would clear up in the kitchen and let the dogs out while I wrote back to Jade and closed down the computer. I decided to write and explain that I would email Jen, her aunt in the morning.
,I am going to write to your aunt tomorrow morning as I have just read your emails. I won’t tell her everything at this stage, just see if she can help you.
I will tell her that you need to talk to her and that your dad has been hurting you for a long time. I will also suggest that if she can’t get to you that she calls the police or someone else who can help you. Please don’t blame yourself for your mum’s accident, you were a little girl and sometimes children are naughty. She wouldn’t want you to take on this guilt. As for his forgiving you, he is the one who has done wrong, not you. Whatever happens to a child at the hands of an adult, is the adult’s responsibility. His hold over you re your Mum’s death is unforgivable and has allowed this hurting to continue. Now we must try to stop it.
I will write tomorrow to your aunt, if you want me to say everything, to her then let me know. I feel she needs to know, very soon, that he has raped you, this is a criminal offence as is sexual abuse of a child. He needs stopping and punishing for what he has done.
I will write again after I Have contacted her.
Keep safe love
I was about to turn the computer off and look for an email from her the following day but before I had a chance to do so, another email arrived from her.
Hi, yes please tell her everything. I can’t carry on being so scared of Dave (not my dad-dave-dad’s don’t hurt their children) I’m fed up of scared, sleepless nights. If I have to suffer the shame of this coming out to be able to move on, then so be it.
I believe this will end!
Thank you so much! I don’t even think I can thank you enough.
I wasn’t doing this for thanks but the email did make me feel better. She now believed she would soon be safe and I had to make sure that happened. I had done it before and would do it again. Once she was safe, life would get back to normal as it had before, perhaps then we could be together as a family and mourn our loss. With a new determination to help this poor abused young woman, I went up to bed to cuddle the man I loved and hopefully sleep.