Don’t Ask Victims Of Sexual Abuse To Speak Up Until You Can Help Them.

As a victim of historical sexual abuse, currently under investigation, I watch the daily news coverage with interest. Unquestionably, police inquiries and prosecutions are welcomed, as is greater exposure of the problem in a “post-Savile” era.

However, every headline and breaking news story, such as Wednesday’s arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles, is accompanied by a mixture of conflicting feelings. Each shocking new revelation brings a personal delight that this filth is being uncovered at long last, but with it comes hurt as it has been hidden for so long – both by society and inside me. Very old scars are opened, and thought patterns become an electrical storm – overloaded by adrenalin, cortisol and a malfunctioning hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which governs the fight or flight response. It is called complex PTSD for a reason.

But alongside the emotional exhaustion of the nervous system, I am reminded that others cannot understand the depth of pain that I feel. Friends are unable to provide much meaningful support – the hole in which I find myself is too deep and too dark – and eventually they stop calling out.

And so with each call for victims to come forward, I want to scream: “Do not ask them to come forward if you are not going to help them.” The trauma suffered is such that victims need help, nursing and wrapping in cotton wool. They need compassion, understanding and to be able to trust – something that they have not been able to do for so long. However, what happens is that police refer victims into the voluntary sector, where agencies provide some immediate “first aid” and kind words – but little else. There is no funding to arrive at a proper diagnosis of what psychological problems may exist – and the prospect of meaningful long-term therapy at no cost is unrealistic. These organisations are so starved of funding, that often much more than a helpline is impossible.

So, what of the NHS? My first doctor said “you seem OK”. The second said “the NHS are really bad at this sort of thing – if I were you I’d pay for it myself”. Eventually after a year I got to see a psychotherapist, who assessed that I would need unlimited support. However, as they were only able to help for two years on the NHS, they said that they were ethically unable to begin any treatment as I might end up in a worse state than when they started. They agreed that I needed help but the impending court case meant that they didn’t “want to open my can of worms”. This only serves to compound my lack of trust for authority figures.

So, I am left delighting in the exposure of decades of abuse, but screaming for a sensible victim support response – the absence of which traumatises me, and will traumatise others. I know my life will never be the same again. I have a criminal case to endure, followed by inquiries into institutional abuse followed by inquiries into the failings of the criminal justice system – but the question I ask myself is “after all of this … will there be enough of me left to enjoy the days I have remaining?”

All I can do is try to help create change for the children I will never have.

The Guardian

12 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Politics

12 responses to “Don’t Ask Victims Of Sexual Abuse To Speak Up Until You Can Help Them.

  1. EMDR. Works for PTSD. Google it.

  2. Reblogged this on cathyfox and commented:
    Healing is what is needed, and is lacking from government plans

  3. artmanjosephgrech

    This is a very important posting as the evidence is that most victims have not been provided with the level of on-going support the crime committed against them merits. However give the havoc which such crimes cause on the individual and in their subsequent relationships with others the nation and its political masters needs to get priorities right. There is need to encourage all victims to report and seek help at the same time.

    What I strongly believe is that victims should not go to the police, or report to the institution or organisation which provided care, if this was the situation from which the crime was committed without being able to first report and get advice to a trusted registered vetted and monitored agency or /individual so that the complainant is accompanied when they officially report and is given on going support during the process involved in investigation and action through the justice system, the compensation system and then attempting to get with life.

    For some the period of getting the attention last two three or more years and then to be abandoned to get on with it can create as much and even more damage. All victims of those who experience sexual or physical violence seem to carry guilt that they were somehow responsible or complicit in the crime committed by them. To often we turn our attention to the plight of other far and wide, and this is good, but not when we neglect the cries of anguish from those in our own. our kith and kin

  4. l8in

    is ‘getting the story out’ a beginning of healing in itself ?
    for so many remaining silent and knowing their abusers are living a life free of guilt and recrimination must be worse.
    #NameAndShame

  5. tazzdevil

    Welcome to my world ,just the same as you ,all alone ,life is given for a reason ???don’t let those who took your youth and teenage yr,s TAKE THE REMINDER OF YOUR LIFE AWAY. LEAST SOME FORM OF JUSTICE IS BEING DONE WITH YOU ,GOOD LUCK IF YOU NEED A FRIEND EMAIL ME OR LEAVE A MESSAGE

  6. if they dont come forward thier sex abuse never known,its a catch 22 situation jon

    • I agree James.

      But every survivor is entitled to a voice, this is his.

      And I agree with him that there does need to be greater support for those that do come forward.

      I also think that more people coming forward is a form of support but those are my views and I’m not a survivor.

  7. Jeannie Wells

    I am so sorry that you have suffered in this way, but thank heavens you are still alive, leading the way into bringing about justice, for which we are all thankful. Please try EMDR, excellent results have been made.

  8. EllenM

    I am a survivor of CSA and thought that I was coping well with the after effects, being an academic and a professional of some standing . That is what I thought until I was a victim of a serious physical and sexual assault some years ago, many many years after my childhood experiences.
    The court proceedings reduced me to a semi psychotic traumatised out of body robot. During the trial my thoughts were so disorderd that I dreamt that I was the Suffolk strangler and I was on trial for murdering prostitutes, I was so convinced that the jury would blame me for my assault that I feared looking at them, I was inarticulate and clumsy when giving evidence. (I give lectures to theatres of 250 plus students) but could not string a sentence together .
    There were photographs of my sexual injuries and I felt so humiliated when these were circulated to the judge, jury and defence counsell. I just felt numb, naked and a nobody. The judge kept looking at the photos and then back at me and I knew he was liking what he saw. There was an evil sneer on his wizened face as he glanced at photo to me and back to photo and then announced a tea break!
    In my heart I knew why he called for a break and I felt sick, abused once again, this time by proxy, by judiciary, by justice………..
    It is the hardest thing in the world laying bare your sexual abuse whether as a survivor or a victim.
    Thought I had survived only to be victimised by the system (sewer) many years later.
    My thoughts and prYers are with those who right now are facing the dilemma of exposure.

  9. tazzdevil

    JUSTICE.,JAIL,THEN LEFT TO PICK ME UP AGAIN ,ABUSER,S PUT INTO AN ENVIROMENT WERE THEY CAN ABUSE ALL THEY WANT AS PRISON,S ARE BREEDING PLACES FOR SICKO PERV,S AND HAVE ALL THERE NEEDS MET.THATS CALLED JUSTICE??????????GOVERNMENTS SHOULDUNT PRISON CONVICTED ABUSER,S.GOVERNMENT SHOULD STICK THEM ALL TOGETHER AND LET FEND FOR THEMSELFS….LIKE US VICTIMS DO EVERY SECOND OF EVERYDAY….WITH THE EMOTIONAL PHYSICAL MENTAL DAMAGE THEY LEFT US WITH TO LIVE WITH ( JUSTICE MY A.R S)