Tag Archives: Historic Child Abuse

Where can you stand if your foundations are broken?

One of the things I have been asked to do recently is to try and identify what emotions accompany the emotional storms.  Some of you may ask what is an emotional storm, if so don’t worry I suspect this blog post isn’t for you.

I found the task surprisingly difficult, In the throws of the storm it is almost impossible to actually identify the dominant emotion and put a name to it, or it is at least for me. The storm feels just like a super enhanced version of how I normally feel so trying to identify an emotion driving the storm is a bit like trying to find a needle that’s 10 times the normal size in a haystack that is also 10 x the normal size. The needle might be ten times as long and ten times as wide but so is the haystack so its actually 100 times a big! I was simply swamped with the size of the emotion that even a needle ten times the size was way too small to ever find.

But eventually, but repeatedly letting my self go to the edge, to the place where I stop being me, A few episodes of self-harm to bring myself back again, I think I found the key emotion. Fear

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A letter to my Inner Child

To Steven

I know you are scared and that you haven’t told me everything but I know enough, I think, to tell you some things.
First of all, please believe me when I tell you how I am proud of the things you survived, to have been through even the bits that you have allowed me to remember and still be fighting is a magical thing.

I know you feel bad about that happened, and that you feel that you were to blame in some way for what was done to you and what happened to Dad but it was not your fault. I know that you done believe this but it is true, it wasn’t your fault.

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‘I believe you’: 3 difficult words

It has been said that one of the most powerful things that you can say to an adult survivor of nonrecent child abuse is ‘I believe you’.

Why is this so difficult for people? Because in my experience it is almost impossible for people to say, at least people that haven’t experienced it for themselves. On disclosing nonrecent abuse I have been met with everything from ‘Well I don’t disbelieve you’ through a silent, confused look to ‘You must have dreamt it’ and I wont even go into the ‘well all teenage boys are up for it’ type responses!

So why is it so difficult for people?

It maybe that my experience of childhood abuse happened in the home, by a parent. This is something that while making up forty plus percent of abuse cases is something that go against deeply held and engrained beliefs. The belief that family is safe, that parents are loving and that because the vast majority of cases reported on are ‘stranger’ abusers then if it does happen in the family then it must be very very rare indeed.

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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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After Reporting Non-Recent Abuse: A Personal Journey Pt 3

The interview

After pulling together everything you have in the way of determination and resolve and taking that step to report non-recent abuse to the police the next big event that seems designed to challenge that resolve and determination is the formal, evidential, interview.
This is where the police take your statement about what you remember, and then being to asked questions about the events, your memories and why you have reported the abuse. It is designed to enable them to get as much information about the offences you have reported while at the same time getting a sense of you as a person, no doubt to judging how you might perform in court and what weight to give to your evidence / story.

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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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