As a six year old awakened in the most brutal sense to sexuality, control and humiliation for over a decade, innocence is invariably lost, and is forever attempted to be reclaimed.
I doubt you will have failed to see the UK media coverage of paedophile cases being brought to justice in court. From prominent personalities of stage and screen, and to those who hold significant power and authority in industry.
To me, my step father held this same air of authority, and like a good little girl, I never disclosed his actions to anyone, for many years. I loved him like daughters love their fathers; I was protective of him, and did not want to see any harm come by him.
You may be familiar with Stockholm syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where victims often hold their abusers in high regard, displaying empathy and understanding to that person. Hand's up that was me and sadly, I was under the belief that my whole world would fall apart without him.
My main priority in life was survival, even when the abuse had stopped.
Like many other survivors of sexual abuse, my healing journey in brief concerned one word: control. I sought control within my environment, my relationships, my body and how I made money. And just like the Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, I was stuck down on the bottom rung of the pyramid with an occasional glimpse of self-actualisation.
Most of all I wanted to forget and carry on regardless, muffling out the screams and the held in tears.
With hindsight I can see how I attracted similar events, situations and people into my life, to re-enact moments of dis-empowerment, so I could control the ending. Unfortunately my way of drowning out the noisy world of pain was to numb the ripped-out wound where my spirit once lay. I was lost for almost a further decade, spiralling out of control through self loathing, a deep rooted sense of betrayal and distrust, not only with myself but with the people that came into and went from my life.
It did however give way to my biggest triumph in life, in that of using vulnerability to eradicate shame.
So why wait 17 years to report this hideous crime to the police?
In 2013 my husband and I began the process of fostering children. The training alone was a trigger for me. I thought "How can I help a child through the court system, when I didn't even help myself?" It was that thought alone that stayed with me and I couldn't shake it off.
As Christmas approached that same year, I caught a glimpse of my step father through my sister's window. I was in the car with my husband and two children. Usually we would have gone up to collect my sister as usual but my instincts told me to stay in the car. As I glimpsed up towards my sister's apartment I could make him out, looking directly down at the car. I felt physically sick. My daughter was in the back seat and she was the same age as me, when it all began.
Understand that at this moment, I had not seen my step father for approximately a decade, yet to just see him through a window, gave me the same reaction as if the abuse had happened yesterday. I scorned myself that "the psychotherapist was not yet healed."
The five common reasons why survivors of sexual abuse do not report the crime
- They were told to let it stay in the past
- They feel guilty for letting it happen
- They were sexually aroused and believe that was wrong
- They feel unable relive the story
- They are frightened their abuser will come and 'get them'
I did make several disclosures to health professionals, friends and lovers over the years; I purged my soul of the wrong doings that had been done against me. It served me for a while and slowly I began rebuilding my story, page by page re-identifying myself through the new narrative, the one I wanted to be known by. I was tired of being characterised as a victim or a survivor; I was simply me trying to find my own way in the world with purpose and intent.
It wasn't until February 2014, some 17 years after the abuse had stopped, that I reported the abuse to the police, which the case is still ongoing.
You too can change your story around
If you can resonate with this article in any way, perhaps you were abused or you know someone that was. There's one thing you can do today to make a difference.
Tell your story.
It's never too late.