The first time I spoke about the sexual abuse I survived was probably around 18 - 19 years old.
The man who sexually abused me over a six-year period had just killed himself and I know you may find this odd, but I stood in my Nan’s kitchen and was overwhelmed with emotions.
At first, I had the grief of a child who had lost a parent.
I was distraught, I said you may find this odd and I completely agree with why you may think so.
My initial reaction was pain, although this man had broken me from the inside out when I was till not even a teen.
I felt a strange, misplaced loyalty towards him. An unconditional loyalty similar to the loyalty of a child to their parents or the unconditional love of a pet to their owner.
How could I feel this way about a man who raped me?
I have spent a lot of time in self-reflection upon this throughout my recovery.
And I feel a great deal of this was due to my lack of self-worth and the warped way in which he had manipulated my emotions to believe he cared for me.
And that all that he did was my fault.
I remember that day vividly when the words left my lips and I told my nan what he had done to me.
Once the shock of his suicide had calmed the feelings of grief subsided, the other emotions began to surface...the ones I had kept buried for so long.
My nan could tell I wanted to say something and begged me to tell her.
So, I did, it just came out...he raped me.
My dear old nan was shocked and amidst the disbelief that she did not know I could see the pain in her emerging that now as a parent I can fully understand.
Once I spoke, the words kept coming and it was as though I had opened the flood gates.
And for every tear there was another jumbled up sentence representing the years of fear, anxiety, shame and pain I had buried deep within myself.
The moment calmed and we can gone through all the many emotions that arose, and there were many.
This should have been the moment that opened the doorway to healing for me, but sadly it was not.
I should have been able to keep talking, I should have been taken to get some professional help.
But nothing happened.
We never spoke of it again, my father went to his grave and never even knew what this man had done to me.
A massive pile of pain swept under a carpet of shame once more.
This was not my nan’s fault, she was in pain too, as I know she loved me with all her heart.
But being from the era she was and the tough upbringing she her programming taught her that we have to just get on with it.
But I couldn’t, my life froze as I struggled to cope and I simply lived from day to day pushing the self-destruct button.
Repressing the emotions that I needed to process and in turn using alcohol and other substances as a means to escape the demon who was on my heels waiting to pull me under.
My nan bless her she did the best that she could with limited knowledge
Through my recovery I have learnt that there is always a lesson we can learn and even those difficult times can teach us something that can assist with our futures.
That experience taught me to not sweep things under the carpet and the importance of allowing our emotional pain to be recognised, acknowledged and heard.
Through a pathway of communication, we can find the means to process and cope.
As a survivor and a parent today
If we can learn from the mistakes of the past we can build the foundations for a positive future.
That experience and the years that followed leading to my recovery has taught me many things.
As a parent now I will never be afraid to stand with my children and face any difficulties that are created for them head on.
I understand that we cannot simply sweep things under the carpet and get on with it.
Because I lived with burying my emotions and I know the dangers of doing so.
There is no shame in acknowledging the pain we feel or the struggles that we have.
Voices need to be heard and stories need to be told, this is the key for healing to begin.
If anyone ever opens up to you regarding their childhood traumas or any trauma for that matter.
First hear them
Second believe them
Third support them
Once those words leave their mouth this is the time when they are reaching for help and we need to be there for them and show support in helping them to move forward.
I know it may be hard...but when a survivor opens up they are demonstrating immense courage and trust and this should be reinforced with belief and support.