Category Archives: Life as a Survivor

Therapy – Uncovering Uncontrollable Trauma

Its rather strange really. When I disclosed the abuse I suffered to the police, and social services before them, I was scared that talking about it would trigger me and I would breakdown. If not right there and then then certainly later. But it didn’t happen.

I was able to talk about it, to given them the details I could remember and answer their question without any problem. Almost as if I was telling them about something that happened to somebody else.

And it is that feeling of detachment that explains it I think. The abuse its self has been so well compartmentalised from me that all I can do is to relate to it in a disassociated way. I think that this was possible because the abuse was time limited in that it only happened either once or a couple of times, to be fair Im not sure which!

But the rejection and emotional dissociation that I experienced from my parent leading up to the abuse and the emotional manipulation and threats after were much more long term, indeed they formed the majority of my formative years so maybe that explains why as soon as I try to talk about them, even to a therapist, I totally break down. And its interesting that what I feel as an emotional storm with very little structure or discernible cause he has described as

‘Classic trauma response. Displaying extreme fear, withdrawn into yourself and a self-protective posture’

I didn’t expect this reaction, and most certainly not to be so violent and frightening. It was not just frightening to the little boy, and I was feeling his fear, I was back there. But it was frightening, terrifying, to me as an adult.

The experiences terrify me and its more than simply my terror or the inner little boy’s terror is almost like one terror is multiplied by the other. The little me’s terror and overlying that the terror I feel now as an adult.

After so many years of denying, to myself, what had happened to me, the abuse both sexual and emotional I was, am, totally unprepared for these feelings. I have no coping strategies and no way of dealing with it apart from pushing it all back down again into my subconscious.

But now they have been set free I can feel them, I can feel them even now. I can feel them every waking moment.

I know that this pushing them down, denying them expression can’t go on, it isn’t even a medium term solution but to tell the truth I have no idea what so ever how to manage them and even the therapist has said that this is way outside his experience and expertise!

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After Reporting Non-Recent Abuse: A Personal Journey Pt 4

No Further Action: The impact of being told that there isn’t enough evidence to peruse the case.

Research suggests that something like only 5% of reports of historical abuse ever make it to court and then a conviction rate of around 50% means that when reporting historic abuse to the police you really do need to set your expectations correspondingly low.
I knew this when I went to the police and reported what had happened to me. I knew that given the time that had passed, the lack of corroborating evidence and my limited memory the chances of my report going anywhere were exceedingly low. I had, I believed prepared my self for the inevitable.

 
I told myself that getting a prosecution wasn’t the main reason for disclosing, which in truth it wasn’t. I repeatedly told myself, before and after the disclosure that nothing would come of it and not to expect anything other than to be heard. This was about me formally acknowledging to myself and the world the truth of what had been done to me and the impact it had had. It wasn’t about vengeance, justice, retribution or even preventing further abuse taking place.

 
The police them selves never made any promises or raised expectations. The promised to take my disclosure seriously and to investigate fully but did say hat the nature of non recent abuse and my case in particular made the investigation, and obtaining sufficient evidence, difficult.

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Reclaiming Steven

Being sexually abused as a child, and I include teens here, has many many effects on the future adult life of the child. From massively increased risks of depression, anxiety disorders, self harm and even suicide. One area that is sometimes overlooked is the impact that it has on our self identity.

The question who am I is one we all ask, and usually answering it is fairly straightforward, at least on a superficial level. We are our memories, our likes and dislikes, our wishes for the future and relationships with others.
The issue with abuse survivors is that we often define ourselves in relation to the abusinve relationship we had with our abusers. This can be the relationship forged as part of a grooming process, the distortion of thoughts, feelings, sexuality, and understanding of what healthy relationships are as a consequence of the abuse itself or the destruction of trust, the imposition of eternal sense of fear and anxiety and the self blame and total lack of self believe engendered by the threats and emotional control used to keep us quiet after the abuse.

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After Reporting Non-Recent Abuse: A Personal Journey Pt2

One of the most difficult thing for an adult survivor of Childhood abuse to do is disclose what happened to him as a child, and the impact it has had on his life.

So having recently made that step to not only disclose but to make the formal complaint I want to share the journey.

Today I continue the Journey with you sharing some updates and considering the response of Avon & Somerset Constabulary to being requested to engage with me to further the investigation.

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After Reporting Non-Recent Abuse: A Personal Journey Pt1

One of the most difficult thing for an adult survivor of Childhood abuse to do is disclose what happened to him as a child, and the impact it has had on his life.

Often this first disclosure is to a friend, a medical professional or partner. Going to the Police and making a ‘formal complaint’ is another thing altogether. This is particularly true when the survivor had good reasons for believing that there is little or no chance of the abuser being brought ‘to book’ and a ‘good’ ending to the experience.

So having recently made that step to not only disclose but to make the formal complaint I want to share the journey.

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Why I Reported Non-Recent Abuse to the Police

While there is a lot of talk, and I hope action, around detecting abuse so that it can be stopped and the child given help and protection there is less understanding of why adults don’t report abuse to the police once they are adults.

Some recent statistics from the British Crime survey suggest that the top reasons adults don’t disclose, and make formal complaints to the police, is embarrassment and thinking that they either wouldn’t be believed and / or that the police wouldn’t do anything about it. [1]

These reasons are certainly high on my list but there are others that are as difficult for me to deal with.

Possibly top is fear. Fear that my abuser, a family member, will react negatively to it and punish me. Even though I have no contact with the person, know that there is nothing left that they can do to hurt me and they already know I have talked to Social Services about it that fear is still there.

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Who Commissions Support for Survivors?

Like many who have been sexually abused as children I suppressed the memories of the abuse for many years as a self-protective mechanism. It was only in the last couple of years that I have found those memories and feeling beginning to surface despite my best efforts to keep them down.

As they did my own mental health deteriorated and I began looking for support and help only to find that there seemed to be no help tailored to Adult survivors of abuse available in Somerset. Even that provided by charities was sparse and focused in the bigger cities.

This prompted me to begin asking questions believing that either the NHS or Local Authority would be responsible for the recognition of the need for such support and its provision. After finding little or no information on the web sites of wither the Clinical Commissioning Group or the local authority I decided to ask, via a freedom of information request, what provision they had in place and what their planed provision was.

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The Inner Child: How we cope day to day, and when we fall to pieces

One of the impacts of child hood abuse is that the child will often need to disassociate from the experiences he, or she, has faced.

This can result in being unable to remember specific instances of the abuse or, as In my case, a more general inability to remember much of the childhood at all. These memories are locked away an frozen in time. They are never processed, never integrated and put into a proper context.

But it is not just memories that get frozen. In a way, it is the child, memories, experiences his whole being that is frozen in time. For the IT literate among you it is like taking a snapshot of a running system, or perhaps taking a 3D hologram snapshot of the child. One that not only captures the whole image of the child but also captures his thoughts, feelings and fears and freezes it in place.

Over time around that frozen core the adult forms. New experiences and memories overlay the inner child and these memories, skills and experiences often suffice to allow the adult to operate in what appears to be a ‘normal’ way.

The adult part of the person can accept adult experiences and problems and react in an ‘adult’ way. The day to day life of the adult survivor doesn’t seem to need to access the inner child, the adult crust built up over the years processes the experiences its self.

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