I want to share with you how l came to a decision to report historical abuse. My historical abuse. By historical abuse, l mean sexual abuse that l suffered as a child from a friend of my family.
Id like to take you back to when I was younger, where it began or what I can remember from it. Firstly I would like to point out that my family was not aware of the abuse, I have the best family anyone could ask for and under no circumstances would they purposely put me in a position that could be harmful to me in any way.
The Abuser was the Husband of my Mothers, best friend ( I will refer to her as ‘The Wife’) they had a boy a year older than me, he was my best childhood friend, I used to go to their house often whilst my Mam was at work or just to play. I was approx 6 when the abuse started, it was usually when the Wife wasn’t in, he used to play games with me and I would be rewarded afterwards with usually money or sweets or to choose the activity for the rest of the day. I was always uncomfortable with the games and knew it wasn’t quite right, but I was the child, he was the grown up, I wanted to be a good girl and do as I was told as that’s what we teach our children to do don’t we?
I remember one game in particular where he used to hide money in inappropriate places and I had to find it I remember hating it and making excuses not to participate but I had no choice, When it was my turn I used to try to hide the coins in obvious places, but he just pretended he never seen and searched my more private places instead. Sometimes it happened when we were outdoors, he used to take us on outings and abuse me whilst we were out. I learnt to just get it over with and carry on with the rest of the day as it was usually fun afterwards.
The abuse went on until I was approx 12 years old, It wasn’t as much now but I was terrified of him, I knew it was wrong and hated him so much. He used to have to drop me off at home and I was so scared I had already mentally planned my escape route to get out of the car in case he tried to rape me, being in such a confined space with him was an awful experience and I used to avoid being alone with him as much as possible though this wasn’t always possible. obviously I was sworn to secrecy and was told what damage it would do if I told anyone, when I think about it I was almost made out to feel Id had an affair with the Wife’s husband.
Eventually I stopped visiting as much and they moved to another town, I visited them a few times after that as I genuinely cared about the Wife and the Boy he was my best friend, we had been friends for years and I wasn’t able to control my emotions or realise the danger I was in as I still wasn’t aware just how wrong it was. other than this my childhood was happy, so it was just blocked out when it wasn’t happening. It was one day when his step daughter came in with marks on her after ‘play fighting’ that I realised it wasn’t just me, and I just froze in horror. I never went back, I was old enough now to make the decision not to visit any more without any questions being asked.
I was extremely confused after this for a long time, and one day I was so upset I told a neighbor what had happened, I was encouraged to tell my mother although I waited a while before doing so and it was a night I will never forget, My older sister and my Mam were devastated and I can still remember how awful it was. My Mother told the School and social services and the police, but because I refused to talk to them there was nothing they could do, no matter how much my Mother wanted me too, I just wasn’t ready, though Mother knows best and I wish I would have done it sooner.
In the years to follow I went on a trail of self-destruction, When I was 13 I stayed at a friend’s house, there was another male there he was 22, He came into the front room as I was trying to sleep, he tried to get me stoned but I did not smoke and knew what he was trying to do. I tried to ignore him and when he tried I said No that I didn’t want to, but that didn’t stop him. I didn’t fight, I didn’t shout, I didn’t cry I just didn’t do anything and he forced himself on me. again I felt I had no choice, This is just what happened to me, it must be what I deserved.
After this I went totally off the rails, causing problems for my family no matter how much they tried to help, I pushed them away, I was angry. I got drunk, took drugs, slept with people for no reason and I didn’t enjoy any of it, I think I was punishing myself, I was depressed, I hated myself. I was offered counseling, once in a church, they wanted me to pray. I was 14 and thought I was too old to pray, it didn’t seem right. I suffered in silence.
Reporting the abuse was not a decision l made easily. In fact, I had thought about it on and off for the past 10 years or so. I am now coming up to 25. I believe that fear always prevented me from reporting it till now. Fear of what you may ask. Fear of not being believed, fear of how my own lifestyle will be perceived, fear of repercussions from the abuser, Fear of being responsible for destroying their family and worst of all Fear that I wasn’t strong enough to go open that part of my life I have locked away and Fear of what it would do to my already unstable mental health. These are just a few factors of fear that l had, and still at times do have.
So what helped me into reporting everything now? One of the biggest things was knowing l had the support of my family & friends, and that no matter what they would be standing with me throughout all of this, and the key element was that they believed me from the bottom of their hearts. The other key factor was it had been playing on my mind a lot recently, I had run into the Wife accidentally and it brought back a lot of unwelcome feelings. Not long after my Mother seen the abuser, he was outside a shop near her home painting, she confronted him and he showed no remorse, he didn’t deny it, it’s almost as he was amused. In anger she also threatened to tell everyone including the company that he was working for what he had done and who he was, and his reply was ‘I don’t work here anyway’. My mother was obviously upset and when she came out of her home again minutes later he was gone.
I guess also, my own personal growth and help I was receiving due to having Borderline Personality Disorder (Which is a result of Childhood Sexual Abuse More Info Here) helped me to get to a place emotionally that l could at last speak publicly about what really went on for me as a child. I had finally learnt and believed that l was entitled to have a voice and be heard.
Believing it was within my right to speak out was essential, l knew l would come across many hurdles where that belief would be tested to the limits, but l had to trust that those that knew me and believed in me were telling the truth when they kept telling me that l am much stronger than l ever allowed myself to believe. The truth of it was that l had survived the abuse first hand, and therefore having survived that, telling my story was never going to be as painful as living it in the first place. I also knew now that l had choices, and I was no longer that small defenseless little girl who had no way of defending herself. The biggest thing for me was my over-riding need and desire to protect other children from encountering the harm that l had received from the hands of my abusers, my daughter is now 6, the same age as I was when it began and this was to be the turning point in my decision to make the report.
I contacted my local police force they came out the same day, myself and my friend then drove to the police station and I was interviewed that day. So this was the time everything started to unravel and the investigation began. It didn’t take many words to start it. Those words where “can you tell me how l go about reporting childhood sexual abuse?”
Was this easy to do? It was much easier than l had initially thought it would be. If anybody else is looking to report abuse, I would highly recommend that they have a friend or loved one who they feel safe with to be there with them, as support is something that is so very important throughout this process.
This was 8 months ago, I have since been interviewed on Video Tape in thorough detail and my family have been interviewed, the abuser was arrested and is out on bail, his family have decided not to believe me and stand by him, but that is their bad judgement. I didn’t expect them to.
I am still waiting for the investigating officers to decide whether their is enough evidence to charge him. I am still terrified and this has truly been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, every day is a struggle. But I know I must stay strong, I have to move on and I know I will soon be able to do that, whether justice is served or not. I know it will be on the system so If anyone else decided to come forward and report this man at any point in the future they will be believed and the police will be aware of him.
I have received support from the Women’s Support Network and Rape Crisis Services who have been there for me throughout the whole process so far.
I will write more at a later time on how lonely and isolating it can be during the period of time when evidence and information is being collated together by the investigating officers and on what happens next.
Abusers Choose To Abuse, Don’t Suffer In Silence. You Are Not To Blame