Today, reading social media and hearing stories of the CSA enquiry being badly carried out and maybe scrapped, my thoughts are with every victim of CSA but especially those who have already given statements. Those brave souls who came forward , found strength and were brave enough to tell.
I am also thinking of everyone else involved, who had to listen to the depravity and abuse these victims have endured. The police, social workers etc. who have had to listen and record every incident in detail of the person sitting in front of them’s suffering. Of course it is worse for the victim but as a Psychotherapist, I know how hard it is sometimes to hear of the horrors of a child’s life. If the enquiry does not have some kind of positive outcome for the victims what was it all for? How will this affect everyone concerned?
Telling is hard. Telling as a child is sometimes, most times, impossible. The abuser will terrify his victim with stories and threats of even worse abuse if they tell. They may say that the child won’t be believed or they will be blamed and made to believe it was all their fault. Abusers are ‘clever’, they know how hard it is for the child they are hurting, fear and trauma will stop anyone else being told. As you tell , as an adult, you become that frightened abused child once again. All the feelings, the fear and terror and yes, shame, can come flooding back. Suddenly the adult is gone and you will become your child again.
How do I know this? I am a survivor of CSA, that lasted from birth until I was 22 years old. My abuser told me that if I told I wouldn’t be believed. If I told I might be sent away to a place where ‘these things’, meaning the sexual act he inflicted on me, would happen every single day. He also said I would not be believed anyway. I wasn’t. I told the woman they called my ‘mother’ and was not believed, I was scolded and punished and so I never told again. If your own mother won’t believe you, why would anyone else.
As a Psychotherapist, I have worked with clients, who, whilst telling me, shrink into their seats, sometimes almost in a foetal position, their voices become small, tiny and I see the child in front of me, not the adult. Heartbreaking and extremely difficult to hold but necessary and, I hope, cathartic for the client.
Years ago, I had shared some of what happened to me with a man I fell in love with Peter. He was amazing and helped me become the woman who went on to meet Daniel, my husband. A few years after our marriage we were watching a program about CSA on TV and my husband said that as it happened so many years ago, shouldn’t the ‘victim’ be over it now? I was horrified but said nothing. A few years later, after meeting up with my abusers son, another love in my life, he was telling me what a horrible man his father was and said he was sorry because he knew I loved him. Suddenly, not able to take anymore talking about the man who stole my childhood, I blurted out that he had raped me. There was silence at first but them hugs and I knew it was okay to tell. On arriving home Daniel held me in his arms and said that so much made sense to him now. He understood my life and the things that had happened before and since we had met.
Sitting here, n my study, looking over the beautiful Welsh hills, it seems a lifetime ago. The abuse, the ‘telling’ and that night, but current things in the news had brought it all back. I am concerned, with reason, that others in power, in courts, in the authority services, might think as Daniel originally did. That because the CSA that happened to victims who have come forward as adults, years ago and so ‘they should be over it’.That it should be in our past. Well it happened in our past but our memories keep it in our present. The past keeps coming back to haunt us, we don’t want it but it does.
What if people in positions , roles in this enquiry, who should be there for the victims, feel this way. policemen, barristers, judges. We know Ms Hewson, barrister, has some very strange feelings towards us, yes I include myself as a solidarity measure. She laughs at victims, insults and belittles them and makes sure it is published all over social media. She has no understanding of the fear and terror children like me, lived with every day, fear of being hurt, being violated,being punished and not believed. She is evidence of that happening to these adult victims. Is anything being done about that? I think not. How can we then trust, that the people who have spent their lives struggling with their childhoods, are going to be acknowledged, listened to and believed? I find that very worrying indeed.
I have to acknowledge that people who have no knowledge of CSA may find it hard to believe what we say. Hard to understand why we didn’t come forward as children and I hope this has explained it a bit. As a child, my ‘mother’ did not believe me so I had no reason to think anyone else would. In later years, we, this woman they called my ‘mother’, spoke briefly about what my abuser had done and I knew from her face, that she was not surprised, that she knew but she said nothing.Daniel knew it was true, he had lived with some of the consequences of the physical sexual abuse, manifesting itself in the woman he loved and married. My daughters Melissa and Lucy always knew but never knew the actual facts, just that something happened to me as a child. On telling them, when I was writing I DID TELL I DID, they were comforting and supportive. All of my family were told, it is only these recent 3 years when my youngest sister Anne came back on the scene, that it suited her to say none of it happened. To call me a liar.Did that hurt? The people who count know the truth. So no, it didn’t hurt but as the lies have been passed around my extended family, making it hard for me, I know that one day I will put this right, using the evidence that I have. But not this time, because this was only done to point score for a very different reason, nothing to do with my life, just Anne’s own issues.
So back to the Enquiry. If you tell and something good comes of it, it is worth the pain, I know that for a fact. After writing my book, many many readers wrote, either saying how they now felt less alone or that it helped them understand a friend or family member who had suffered. So it was worth revisiting my own horrors to write my story, as that was the reason it was written.
If you tell and you are not listened to, the fear and helplessness can stay with you.
If you tell and you are not believed, you don’t tell again. You lose faith, trust and self belief and keep your horrors to yourself.
If you are laughed at, belittled, insulted, as is happening courtesy of the Barbara Hewson’s of this unfair world, the damage can be huge.
I hope with every ounce of my being that the enquiry doesn’t end until justice is done, until the victims have acknowledgement of their sufferings if nothing else. We, the victims of CSA are the only people who really know what happened and how it affected us and is affecting us. We are the victims and the witnesses and only we can tell it as it was. Our lives, having been affected by our childhoods, are the proof.
Justice needs to be done but I am very concerned that it won’t be and hope that everyone involved has a support network to help pick up the pieces.
Thankyou for reading. x