CategoryWhat’s on my mind

My witness impact statement – MG11 *possible trigger warning*

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I will add a *possible trigger warning* to this post, due to the nature and details of sexual abuse. If you think you will be affected, please do not read on. I wanted to publish this to give you an idea of what a victim/witness impact statement looks like, as I had no idea where to start.

My witness impact statement. April 017

I have been asked by DC… of West Midlands Police to provide a witness impact statement with regards to the sexual abuse I suffered as a child, by Terry Price (later know as Robert McEwan and now Mr Mac). I am finding writing this very difficult and have continually put it off, because it has such a huge negative effect on my physical and mental health, which I am currently trying to manage with medication and assistance off the Mental Health team and my G.P.

I was a vulnerable child who was easy prey for Terry. My Mother had mental health issues and had recently seperated from my Father who had started a new relationship. Being starved of affection and already subject to neglect, I initially welcomed the attention that he gave me. He would tell me that I was a princess and very special. He knew I loved Elvis Presley and would promise to buy me a singing Elvis doll from the local shopping centre, it was the iconic doll of him dressed in his white diamonte suit. He would take us out on trips to his probation office and we’d visit the pet shop on the way home, where they had a parrot that talked. I’d never seen anything like that before. He would give me his undivided attention when I danced and sang to top of the pops. My Mom was making me a royal blue swinging teddy girl skirt and he would get me to put this on and dance for him. Those these dances soon turned into stripping. I had no idea that this was wrong and lapped up the attention.

When the sexual abuse started, again I had no idea what this was, he made it appear normal, though I did not like it. He would promise to buy me things if I kept quiet. I would scream when my Mom went out at night and left us in his care because I knew what would happen when she went. But I was too young to verbalise what it was. He thrust me into an adult world that I had no words for and so I was just seen as a naughty, uncontrollable child, who my Mother couldn’t wait to have a break from.

I was a lonely child at school who found it difficult to make friends, I was often bullied and ostracised by my peers because I was different. At school I would often run away and have to be chased by the ‘wag woman’, whilst taking off my clothes and throwing them so that she would slow down to pick them up. I would want to get home to my Mom, because I knew that while I was with her I was safe and that when she wasn’t there, bad things happened. I feel that no one, not the school or my Mother ever tried to understand what was happening for me, instead they just thought this was more proof I was a problem child.

My Mother found my pants down the back of the sofa on one occasion and I was told off for leaving them there. I found this very confusing as I hadn’t left them, Terry had. So when I had faeces in my knickers after being abused, I would wash them in the sink, so that I did not get into trouble again. This became a regular occurrence.

The police omitted this section from my mg11, saying that it would go against me…(When doing my ABE the police asked if I remembered being penetrated vaginally or anally by Terry. I answered no. However, i do have nightmares of being held down and anally raped, and I do have episodes of intense abdominal and rectal pain which has been attibuted to somatic recall of being raped. Though unlike the concious memories I have for which he has been charged, I have no fully formed concious memory of these penetrative events and am aware that I would dissociate at times while the abuse was carried out, which is why I said no during the interview. This has affected my adult relationships also, because I have intense pain during intercourse and often still dissociate, which my partners find very unnerving.) end of police omission.

I have difficulty with my adult relationships because I find that partners will either not understand me and my trauma, or if I am able to open up to them, they then use my past as a weapon against me. I also find it hard to trust people and allow anyone to get too close for fear they will see that I am broken, damaged goods or they will abuse me too.

I am currently under the care of the Mental Health team, I have ongoing mental health issues such as PTSD, Moderate Depression and Lack or Loss of Sexual Desire. For which I am prescribed the anti drepressant Sertraline and hypnotic agent Zoplicone for my insomnia. I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and IBS which is monitored by my G.P.

Since reporting to the Police in 2015, my physical and mental health issues have been exaccerbated, to the point I have felt I do not want to be here anymore. Though after taking an overdose in 2001, I know that, that is not an option I would ever want to take again, as I have children who need me and so I have learned to open up and request help from the appropriate services.

Naively I thought that once I had reported, things would move swiftly, he would be charged and it would all finally be over. But this has not been the case. We are now two years down the line and I have at times wished that I never told the police. The personal cost has been huge with regards to my physical and mental health, I have lost my partner of four years, I had to quit my role as a counselling support worker with a charity that supports abuse survivors, I had to leave my CPCAB counselling course, I no longer socialise with friends and have become isolated, my children have suffered because I am no longer able to take them to after school activities, my youngest son had to leave his football team, and I am unable to look after my own grandchildren because the reponsibility of keeping anyone else’s children safe is too huge to bear.

Now that he has been charged, I feel there is finally an end in sight. I appreciate that it is absolutely out of my hands, and that it is up to the CPS, Courts and a Jury to decide how this concludes. I have done everything in my power to gain justice for what Terry Price did to me. For the life I was robbed of at an early age, i can never change that. I will never know how my life could have been if he had never been in it. I will most likely continue to recall the abuse for the rest of my life. Though I hope that with psychotherapy this may be aleviated. I will never have the career I could have had if I had not had PTSD in varying degrees since the abuse in my early infancy. I will never know what it feels like to have an intimate relationship that doesn’t cause physical pain. I will never know what it truly feels like to be vulnerable and have trust in people.

A cliché that gets banded around is that child sexual abuse survivors have been given a life sentence. I can testify that at 43, this is true. Terry Price gave me a life sentence and I at no time deserved it.

I had hoped that Terry would have grown some sort of conscience in his adult life and taken responsibility for the harm he has caused me, but no, instead he is denying it and pleading not guilty, meaning that I now have to endure a trial too. It is the final insult and I hope he has to pay dearly as a result.

It is my hope that this man never gets released from prison, so that he is never able to harm an innocent child again. If my standing up and speaking out makes this a possibility, then it has been worth the turmoil and I would gladly do it all again.

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To report or not to report? My personal journey…pt2

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Carrying on from where I left off in part 1. We now finally have a trial date 11th September 2017. Just a mere 2 years and 5 months since I first walked into the Warwickshire police station and made my ABE (achieving best evidence video statement). Upto now, of the 4 abusers I reported, two have been filed as it’s my word against theirs, if there is anything you are almost guaranteed to get away with, child abuse is right up there. One (a family member who the police know has at least 5 victims) has been passed over to social services for safeguarding due to his having custody of some of his children. I am told that these children are the safest they have ever been thanks to my disclosure, am I to believe that? Not on my watch. Anytime I can draw attention to this sick individual and have a chance of brining him to justice, I most certainly will. He may think he has gotten away with it for now, but karma will catch up with him one day soon. Lastly the one who the police chose to progress with, given his prolific offending.

Again, as previous I will carry on in a time line fashion, to make it easier to follow events as they took place.

11 September 2017 – The trial is set to take 4 days. As a family we all gather and offer each other support on the morning of the first day. I am so scared and equally so very determined that he will not win this round. I had originally opted to have screens, so that I could only see the judge and the jury, not the abuser. I was concerned that I did not want to be triggered into a blubbering mess if I had to come face to face with him. Well once again he was allowed to call shots, he was not going to appear in person, but via a video link! Out fucking ragious. Sorry, but this floored me. Right no need for screens then, this made me more determined to look directly at him and show I was not a little girl anymore, but a fully grown woman, mother and grandmother, who was not afraid of this low life scumbag.

Deliberations and selecting a jury, took up most of the morning. After lunch it was expected that I would take the stand first, as I made the initial report. Time ticked on well into the afternoon and my barrister expressed that it wasn’t likely I would take the stand today, so I sort of relaxed a little. Even if I was a little disappointed. I saw it that I would be refreshed and ready first thing the next day. Nope! at 4.15pm, when the court session finished at 4.30pm I was called in. Really!!!

So head held high, but shaking internally, I took to the stand, took my oath and looked up to see someone I barely recognised. There he was in a bloody wig! Seriously you could not write this. Again he was allowed to mock the system, hide his identity from me, and appear mentally unstable. No sooner than his barrister had torn into me, the video link went down and court was adjourned til the next day. So now I am in a right state, not only do I now have his image imprinted on my brain, so much so, that I see him everywhere I go, upto today, but I also have an idea how absolutely terrifying it will be tomorrow having to face it all again.

Day two and I am ready for the fight, I tell myself it has taken 38 years to get to this point, a lot of badgering the police to get on with it and so I am going to take to the stand with grace, tell the absolute truth and look to the jury to understand the pain and suffering this man has put my family and i through (as we all know CSA has an all encompassing and life long effect on every aspect of our lives). That even all these years later he is still trying to wield power over me by making me endure a full trial. That he will not succeed this time, I am the one holding the power! The same day my sibling had to take the stand, they too were standing tall in their own power and showed the abuser they were not so little anymore either. Third to be called was our father, this trial was breaking his heart, it was plain to see. He could not apologise and express his hurt to learn all we had gone through, when he and our mother separated. We did everything to console him and let him know that we did not have any bad feelings towards our him, we knew he loved us and given the chance he did try to gain custody of us all those years ago. Our mother on the other hand, shows no remorse, thinks and thought only of herself then and now, so much so that we have not spoken to her for ten years. Today she is also a witness, although we as a family, including our Dad believed that she too should have been on trial.

We initially decided collectively not go into the court whilst she gave evidence, we already knew she would lie and play the victim card herself. But at the last minute I thought no, I want to hear how vile this woman is. So we all went in. Yup she was every bit the victim still. Poor me, I didn’t know, I am so ill now, I love my children so much. Bleurgh! Absolute bull. See I know that in her initial statement to the police, she had said that I had led the abuser on. I was 6 years old for god sake! I will never forgive her. I thank her only for showing me how ‘not’ to be a mother. Thank goodness my children and grandchildren will never know her.

The third day we were all so mentally and emotionally drained, we decided not to attend the trial. Though all day it was awful not actually knowing what was going on, what his cross examination had been like and how the trial was going. I even had to call witness care late in the day to find out if he had even took to the stand, so to speak, given he was on a video link anyway!

So on the fourth and final day, we all returned to hear the summing up. At no point did anyone say we are going to read out and explain all 13 charges in detail to the jury, when my sibling and I had requested that neither of us, or our Dad were in court to hear it. Non the less, they proceeded and we all ended up hearing every last disgusting bit of what had took place all those years ago when we were just 6 and 4 years old. Non of us where prepared to hear this, the court goes on regardless. It’s as though once you have done your bit, you are no longer part of the process.

We all sat there tears streaming, holding hands and having to listen. Charge after charge, vile inhumane acts on children read out loud for all to hear. Actually hearing them in such an environment, impacted on how very serious it had all been. How we had survived what most adults wouldn’t/couldn’t from a very young age. How this really was not our fault, and that this man was finally being held to account.

They now released the jury for deliberation and we were told to either stay in the building and wait, for what could be 10mins, and hour, days even. Or if we left and the jury came back, they would not wait for us to return before giving their verdicts. What, so we had waited all these years, and the court would not give us the courtesy of watching him when the verdicts were returned. Like I said before, this is not about us anymore, the wheels of justice have no time or consideration for the victims. Luckily there were two ISVA’s in training in the public gallery, they heard all of this and came to offer to stay around so we could leave, and they would let us know if the jury returned so that we could get back in time.

I had a feeling that they wouldn’t take too long, we all agreed that we felt this.

No more than 45mins later we got the message to say they’re coming back! Panic stations ensued as we ran for our lives to make it back and not miss a thing. When we got there our wonderful barrister had made himself unavailable for a short while to give us a chance to get there.

So the jury returned, all 12 had unanimously agreed their verdict on all 13 charges in only 45mins! One after another we heard ‘GUILTY‘ to each and every charge. I cannot tell you how overwhelming it was to hear. We hugged, cried and consoled each other. Finally we had been heard and most importantly, believed. Time to celebrate, but was that right? Should people celebrate, it’s not like we’ve won anything, we can’t get back what he took. But yes when it all sinks in, we bloody well should celebrate!

Well the court adjourned the sentencing until 13th October, as they had to try and understand how the charges would have stood in the 1980’s to what they are now. Very different they are too. In the 80’s sentencing would have been very lenient, and the Judge and barrister wanted to ensure he faced the maximum they could impose.

Roll on to 13th October, this was adjourned prior to taking place and rescheduled for 3rd November. Sadly my sibling had, had to return home (he had been specifically flown in for the trial). So on 3rd Nov, the remainder of the family went to court on the afternoon as was scheduled, only for it to be put back once again due to another case running over. Just when we thought it would all be over, we should have known that the system does not roll like that.

Fast forward once again to 24th November, scheduled for an afternoon session, so we didn’t hold out much hope. But….finally, he was sentenced. Twenty two f’ing years imprisonment and 5 years extended licence. Absolutely unbelievable. Our barrister and the DC could not believe he had been so severely punished. What a fantastic outcome and regaining of power we felt in that moment. I say in that moment, because you think i’ll just get through this case and then…

I’ll feel better? I will be miraculously cured of the ongoing physical and mental health issues I have due to the abuse? I can pick up my life and carry on with it? Yay, now everything can be ‘normal’ again?

Sadly this is not the case…and is an anti-climax to any trial. Yes we were incredibly lucky to have gotten this far, to have been heard and believed. Yes he is going away for a very long time. But, we still have to serve the sentence he gave us when we had no choice or ability to stop it. This is the reality. He is in a mental hospital until he is deemed ready to be returned to prison to see out his sentence. He has a roof, 3 meals a day, access to all the medical facilities, staff, psychotherapy he needs. And we get? Nothing, Zilch, Nada!

I have been told (after already being on the waiting list for over 2yrs whilst awaiting trial) that the current NHS mental health trauma therapy waiting list is 9-12 months. How can this possibly be right. Offenders are able to play the system, waste tax payers money by delaying, changing their names and pleading mentally unfit, which results in professionals having to do reports, and they are not cheap, never mind the hundred of thousands it will cost being put up at her majesty’s pleasure. Whilst the victim/s who have had to fight every bit of the way to get heard, never mind believed and a sentence gained, do not even qualify for help to recover, until a much later date. Bottom of the pile as always. Used by the abuser, discarded by the system. No wonder many take their lives, I get it, I really do.

So back to the very start I suppose, to report or not to report child sex abuse? That is and should always be very much a personal choice.

When I walked into that police station way back in April 2015, 3 years ago now. I was training to be a counsellor, I was volunteering for a charity that supports victims and survivors of sexual abuse, I was a counselling support worker, seeing clients of my own. I was In a happy 4 year relationship, I had a good circle of friends, I felt strong and ready to take on this challenge.

All of that has gone…

I am now to this day still pretty much house bound, though I am working on this with the support of my mental health social worker. I am on medication for M.E and PTSD, I suffer flashbacks, emotional and somatic. I am unable to sleep without the aid of pills. I am extra vigilant, always on the look out for dangers. I find it extremely hard to leave my home alone. I no longer have a circle of friends, a relationship, or am I working towards a career.

So do I think it was a good idea to report? Absolutely!!

I may now be in a very different place to where I started, I may have lost people I needed to lose in reality because they weren’t really right for me. I may have to re-think ever working again, or at least until I am well enough.

But…

I am now able to know I did everything in my power to get justice, not just for me, but for his other victims, for anyone who reads this, for anyone of my family who are scared or unsure if they should go ahead. For children today that may have come into contact with any of the abusers, I hope I have saved them from the same fate and a life sentence.

I am learning to be who I was meant to be, who I should have been if I had been able to have a healthy, nurturing, loving childhood. I am learning to appreciate that I do matter, that I deserve a life, that I can parent my inner child and bring her comfort.

That I AM… Strong, powerful, loving, caring, a good friend, a great mother and grandmother, that I am fair, that I consider others, that I am emotionally mature, that I can and have made a difference in this life, that I am trustworthy and reliable, that my family are my world, that there are others out there and I am not alone, that a change is going to come and I am part of it.

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To report or not to report? My personal journey…pt1

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So many victims and survivors are asked, ‘why haven’t you reported your abuse?’, ‘Well if you’ve not reported, surely it couldn’t have been that bad?’, or the really damaging line ‘s/he are obviously making it all up, or they would have reported it to the police. Attention seeking again!’.

Look, reporting  recent or non-recent child sexual abuse to the police or anyone in authority (disclosing) is a very personal thing. Each and every victim and survivor will have their own views on whether this is right for them. In this following journal I want to share with you my experience. I hope that it will help to inform you of current processes, time restraints, the police handling once reported, the court process and the outcomes and affects reporting has on an individual and their loved ones. I in no way want to influence your decision in disclosing, merely offer you an informed account.

Part 1 – This was written last year, before the trial took place, please see Part 2, for an update of where I am today.

My own dealings with the police have (I feel) further impacted my physical and mental health, to the point I am mostly home bound, I’ve become isolated from friends and family, I have little to no trust in the system and its procedures, and overall if I had the choice again, I most definitely would not go down the route of reporting.

On a more positive note, I had arranged via a charity that I was receiving counselling through, to disclose to the police way back in 2007. On the actual day the counselling support worker was unavailable, as was the original officer due to come out to see me. So Warwickshire police decided to send out two male officers to a lone female, to have an initial informal ‘chat’. This was most intimidating and as you can imagine I wasn’t able or ready to talk much. However, the officers informed me that because the abuse had taken place in a different city, the case would have to be passed to West Midlands Police. I chased this up around a month after that meeting, and was told I would be contacted in due course. I never was. After the terrible experience of that time, I was in no rush to chase this or try to report again. I say on a positive note, because when I did finally feel ready again in 2014 the initial response and support through the process was completely different, and I actually felt heard and supported whilst dealing with Warwickshire Police. Once my case had again been passed to West Midlands Police, it went very much down hill.

I think it is extremely important for the Police to understand that as a victim/survivor of non recent abuse, we may go through life appearing to be coping and getting on. This is often very short sighted and if they look a little deeper they will see we are adept at hiding our pain, often with self destructive consequences such as self harm, drug/alcohol misuse. I myself would have alcohol induced blackouts, to the point I ended up in a medical tent at a local festival and actually thought I had died due to waking up in a huge white tent. Very scary and a big wake up call for me.

Anyway, back to the here and now. Once we step into that station, interview room, or disclose in a preferred safe environment, our original coping mechanisms are exasperated. We literally unleash the gates of hell and all that we have desperately tried to push away now lives very firmly in our present. The nightmares are increased, the flashbacks of traumas are infinite and our lives are completely now engulfed in everything related to our experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Our relationships may fail, our friends become far and few, our support networks become online groups, our family may (many do) disown or abandon us for daring to speak out and break up the family. We have now disclosed (and can never take back) our inner most heartbreaking, emotional, embarrassing, personal experiences, to a total stranger, who we hope will do everything in their power to bring our abuser/s to justice, in a timely manner.

Sadly this is all too often not the case!!

If it’s ok with you, I’ll continue in a time line fashion to give you an idea of how my case has gone over the last 23 months. Yes, 23 months and still ongoing, this apparently is not uncommon, but it is completely unacceptable.

Time line from initial disclosure to present day

13th April 2015 – Initial Meeting with Warwickshire Police
17th April 2015 – ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) meeting to record and video tape disclosure at a station in Warwickshire. The Police here were fantastic, they took their time to ensure I felt comfortable and supported. They also felt my account was so important that they took all the evidence over to West Midlands Police, that very same afternoon! They also spoke of involving social services due to one of my abusers having sole custody of his children.
10th June 2015 – Met with a DC (Detective Constable) from West Midlands Police at the original station in Warwickshire to record a further ABE and disclose about further abuse/abusers. There were 4 in total reported. The Police have chosen to concentrate ,initially, on one offender (the one who it will be easier to possibly convict given his continuous offending).
18th July 2015 – an appointment had been set for an important witness/family member to disclose via telephone (due to them living abroad). This interview was cancelled on the day without any prior notice, leaving this vulnerable witness distressed.
3rd September 2015 – Emailed DC at WM (where this case is being handled from here on) for an update, told they were trying to arrange family statements.
11th October 2015 – Emailed DC told they were having trouble obtaining statements
15th October 2015 – DC has is now ready to interview two of the accused, good news they’re actually investigating another one (the one who has children, the other is in custody)
4th November – Two accused have now been interviewed, both deny the allegations, DC is arranging to speak family members (even though that was apparently happening mid October?)
13th December 2015 – DC emails to apologise for how long this is taking, still haven’t contacted family members for statements!
25th January 2016 – Police are now filing my complaint on one of my abusers (the one who has children) on the basis of only interviewing his family members! And being unable to locate files that should be located in their actual station of his being questioned on similar charges by them in 1985. They also state they are unable to locate the girl that made the statements at that time. At the time of filing this case they have failed to speak to or take statements from any of my immediate family. So they are ready to file a case based on only his family’s reports, even knowing that he has sole custody for children today, and they have not been safeguarded!
19th February – Emailed WM Police to make a formal complaint with regards to them not safeguarding these children and filing a case without proper investigation. I also informed them that with little research on my part I was able to obtain the original complainants (from 1985) details and had passed those to the DC in charge, so that they could re-open that line of investigation. Their response was ‘The challenge we have as a police service is balancing your expectations with investigation guidelines’. They went on to say that they were unable to use social media for investigation purposes without a ‘warrant’ and that as a member of the public I had more access than they did. This I know to be untrue! I have sat with an officer whilst they have searched social media accounts (related to someone else’s case). They then said ‘I can see that you have engaged with the case officer previously and provided further information – therefore you should be communicating your concerns to her in order for them to address them’. I had, she never responds, hence one of my reasons for complaining!
29th February – DC provides an update, social services have now been informed of the current investigation and are carrying out their own safeguarding exercise. Wow, 10months later! And only after I have made an official complaint! WM Police have also made contact with the original complainant, still unable to locate the original paperwork. DC freely admits that due to current work pressures, she has done more in my case/s in the last few weeks, than she has in the past year and that her department were now putting extra staff into a specialist non-recent team.
21st April – quick update from DC, they are now taking statements from my parents, a year later!
14th June – Finalising papers for the CPS (in the case of the offender who is in custody)
22nd June – I ask if the case has been passed to the CPS – No response!
8th August – Still no response, so I email DC again for an update.
9th August – DC apologises for delay in responding – doesn’t expect to hear from the CPS until the end of August.
7th November – Not heard anything, so I email DC, I express that however small any news appeared to them, it was extremely important to me. DC apologises again! CPS have requested more info – so it is taking longer than expected. Well tell me this then, instead of leaving me in the dark. I have no idea how these things work, keeping me in the loop would be most helpful. To them it is a job, to me it is my life right now!
8th December – Apologises again! (this is becoming a common theme) Unsure if there will be any news from the CPS before Xmas.
23rd December – DC emails to say CPS have set a conference date for 7th January to discuss the case. I respond asking for an explanation as to what this means? What is a conference? Is this a good thing? – No response (another recurring theme)
7th January 2017 – I email again asking for an explanation of the CPS process and whether the police are aware of the outcome of the conference, no response!
11th January – I email DC again and request that she call me asap as she has not responded to any emails or my ISVA who has also been chasing them on my behalf. – DC responds saying she has not contacted me because she has no news and that she will call me this coming Friday. Calls on the Friday, and was clearly upset on the phone describing how she has huge case loads and puts off contacting me because she is also frustrated with how long it is taking and feels personally responsible for not having any news. I explained again, as I do often, that what matters more to me is being kept informed, for them to take the initiative to contact me at regular intervals, even if it is only to say, this is where we are at.
18th January – DC calls to say the CPS have decided to press 5 charges (in the ongoing abusers case). Finally, after a very long and extremely difficult 21months we are getting somewhere!
Still no news in the other case, apparently because they cannot locate the previous paperwork relating to the other accuser, it is now with social services to see if they have anything on their systems. So that is ongoing.
24th January – DC contacts to say CPS need an impact witness statement before 30th January (5/6 days time) I inform her, I am absolutely not ready or willing to be rushed into doing something so important and personal under this pressure. Police now have until the 30th Jan to complete all requested paperwork for the CPS, who will then release the charge sheet. The defendant will then have 28days to plead (as opposed to the usual 14days, because he is already in custody, they get longer for some unknown reason?)

7th March – He is finally in court for a plea hearing. No one sought to tell me that this takes place in a magistrates court, who are not able to deal with such serious matters, so it will have to be sent to Crown Court anyway. What a waste of tax payers money! I am then informed by witness care, the next day, when I’ve not been able to sleep or sit down all the previous day waiting for news, that for some unknown reason, he was unable to plead that day and it had now been rescheduled for April. Since found out he was allowed to change his name! Meaning he was formally not allowed to enter a plea until all the paperwork had been changed to his current name! Why are repeat offenders even able to change their names for goodness sake, that a risk in itself. No wonder they go off radar when released.

19th April – Next plea hearing, again at Magistrates, what a waste of time.  So he is now saying that due to mental health issues he is un-fit to plead! Really, these monsters are so calculated, they obviously know how to play the system, worst of all the system allows it and us victims and survivors have to just suck it up.

28th April – I am now so beside myself that I request the DC visits me at home to explain fully what the actual hell is going on here. Why is he able to get away with controlling the situation? She agrees, but this is still how it is.

June 15th – Yet another plea hearing, now that he is deemed fit to plead. Of course he pleads not guilty! A full trial it is then, wouldn’t have expected any less to be honest.

So that’s where I am, it’s been a real fight with the police all the way, it shouldn’t be this way surely? You would think you make a complaint, they investigate it thoroughly, it gets passed to the CPS, a decision is made, it may or may not proceed. This is not my experience.

I have clearly stated throughout that I appreciate that the Police are taking these cases more seriously, and to some extent investigating and making changes to support victims and survivors. Whilst heads of forces around the country stand up and say they are learning and making changes and it all sounds wonderful, the reality is very different. Simple back to basics, treating people with dignity, empathy, understanding and keeping up a regular dialogue, not leaving us in the dark, with us having to chase and make complaints for our cases to be priority, would go a long way to making this process bearable.

From a police perspective, it is blatantly obvious that more specially trained officers are needed to keep up with the huge rise in disclosure and to ensure that victims and survivors feel confident that the hell they unleash will be for something in the long term, not only that, but that they will be heard, their cases given the utmost priority and investigated fully.

To get through all this and then the offenders receive little to no appropriate sentence, is another subject altogether. I’m not there yet, breath held, dreading what is to come. Lets face it, it’s not be great so far.

But I am apparently ‘lucky’, if you can put victim/survivor into any sentence that contains lucky, it is that I have got this far, when many (only 1 in 8 I think the current figures stand at) ever get this far. Do I personally think it has been worth it, I cannot honestly say yes. As stated previously, whilst the system has improved, I still wouldn’t recommend fellow survivors take this route without specialist support in place and we all know that is sparse.

I hope this account is useful in educating those who serve to make appropriate changes.

See Part 2

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When it’s OK not to be OK

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I’ve heard this phrase banded about, it’s OK not to be OK and i half heartedly agreed in passing. However, it really has hit home recently, just how OK i finally am with not being OK. Well i’ve had to be, because on this journey it can feel like your whole body, mind and soul has had enough and simply cannot take anymore, and i have had to accept that this is not only to be expected, it is actually a normal reaction to a highly stressful situation.

I’ve had to allow myself to withdraw, to have duvet days and to not have the energy to get dressed. I’ve had to give myself the love and care i would readily give to any of my children if they were clearly suffering and in pain. I’ve had to stand by and allow myself to not wash, brush my teeth and sit in the same pyjamas for 3 days. I’ve had to let my body sleep as much or as little as it has needed to, and for a change this has been lots!

 I know all the theories out there say you must be strong, you must push yourself, you must remain positive. But you know what there comes a time to know enough is enough and i need time out. If i cannot be trusted to have compassion for myself at my lowest, who else is there? If i take the stance of berating myself for being weak, shaming myself for not trying hard enough, or needing to pull myself together, without fully understanding and appreciating what i am going through, then how will I allow real healing to take place? I may aswell conceed that I am still living with an abuser, except this time I am the one abusing and harming myself.

 I do not want to live in the cycle of blame and shame any longer and that means getting really real with me. Listening and understanding my many parts and their needs, and getting help and support where it is needed, whilst also taking time out and not feeling guilty about it.

This is in no way the same situation as being suicidal, please if you feel that way, talk to the Samaritans, go to A&E or let a trusted friend know.

Me, I am simply burnt out.

It’s not surprising that two years after reporting to the police, 4 months after him being charged, and 4 court appearances to plead later (he still hasn’t officially made his plea, though he made it clear to the police he would being saying not guilty). He is now doing everything possible to evade responsibility by taking the ‘not fit to plead’ route! Seriously could not make this up. The man is quite obviously not right or he wouldn’t be a paedophile! Nothing surprising there. But now we have to let him retain his little power trip even longer, waste more tax payers money on him, give him access to Dr’s, psychotherapists, medication, whatever he needs, while i have to wait until after any trial to access EMDR. Something is clearly wrong here.

On the other hand the justice system are obviously getting very fed up of his abuse of the system and have provisionally set a trial date for September, small mercies eh!

So on reflection, i finally understand that IT IS OK, NOT TO BE OK in such exceptional circumstances, infact it is probably one of the most normal responses i’ve had!

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You are going to lose people, and that is ok!

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So i’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the past 2 years since reporting the abuse i suffered as a child. When you take the huge step of disclosing or contacting the police, and making a statement or ABE (video statement referred to as Achieving Best Evidence) you are literally opening the gates of your personal hell. I am in no way saying this to put anyone off. I am glad that i did it, now (i haven’t always felt this way). You see once you’ve taken this step, everything is out in the open, you will most likely have more memories surface, you may experience an increase in flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, low mood, low self-esteem, feelings of shame and guilt, depression, everyone’s experience will be different. As for a police investigation, possible charges and court case, well that is a long way off, and is completely out of your hands.

What you’re going to need is support, family, friends, an ISVA – Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (you can ask to be referred if the police are dealing with your case, or you can contact NAPAC or Survivors UK to find support local to you), maybe the mental health team (i self referred, there’s no shame in this), your G.P can help with any medication or physical symptoms that will most likely arise. Maybe  joining up with others online who are campaigning or running support groups can help you to feel you’re not so alone afterall.

Let me get to the point, YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE!!

There are no two ways about this. You are going to face demons you have fought to hide, push down, run from, self medicated to avoid, worked yourself to death to keep them boxed up. They are now out and you will need all the support and services available to you, to deal with them.

At the same time all this is going on, you are going to lose people. Family may turn their backs on you, friends may become distant, you may feel like it was so much easier when you wore the masks and put everyone else and their feelings first like you always have. If you’d just kept quiet and pushed your wants and needs away, life could just carry on and it wouldn’t be this lonely and painful, right? For some that is how they will chose to deal with it, but it’s not right. It’s a symptom of the cycle of abuse.

How can it be right if you have to lose yourself to fit in, if you have to take copious amounts of drugs/ drink, indulge in sexual relations that continue to take from you, self-harm and dissociate to fit in to a fake world? It’s soul suicide, we’re literally dying to fit in.

No, the price it  way too high, to keep quiet and carry the burdens alone, so that we present a nice neat package to society, family, social circles. And most of all, this just perpetuates the cycle. Silence only enables abusers.

So you speak out, you expect that people will respect your decision and support you, you look around and those you held dear have thrown their hands up in despair and walked. How selfish of you to be in a dark place! How dare you speak up, when i have kept this secret and never dared speak! How dare you get justice when i never can. How dare you bring shame on this family. HOW DARE YOU!

Yes even fellow survivors will treat you with this contempt, and this is soul destroying. It hurts the most and you will grieve. But you are doing the absolute right thing, do not be put off by them. They are choosing how to deal with their own ‘stuff’. We cannot make them see or appreciate our journey. We also cannot let them stop us taking our very own necessary steps.

Because during this rollercoaster of soul searching, letting go of any shame or guilt that rightly belongs with the perpetrator/s, you will find YOU. The you that is free to be whoever you want to be, the you who now has the choice to make the rest of their life, the best of their life. The you, you have been grieving since childhood. The you who is now free to build nurturing healthy relationships, engage with supportive, inspiring social circles. The you that is able to stand in their own power and say i not only survived, but i thrived.

So yes, you will lose people, and that is ok!

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So today he gets to plead…

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It’s a weird day today, I woke up feeling like a child who was excited and wanted to play, have fun and laugh. Like really laugh out loud to the point of looking insane to anyone who doesn’t know them or their story.

Beside this strong emotion, I felt like I should be keeping really busy, my mind was racing with we could do the garden, scrub the house, oh look at those cobwebs, should we plan a holiday, maybe a walk in the sun would be good.

Another part of me decided we should just go back to bed and wait for today to be over and done with.

So much going on in one brain, it’s absolute chaos! No wonder we get overwhelmed and overloaded to the point of exhaustion, when there’s so many parts wanting to pull in different directions at once…jeez!

So what’s triggered this outburst? One of the abusers (note I do not say ‘my’ abusers) is in court today to plead. I am actually f@*king furious that he even gets this chance to decided where we go from here. Like if he pleads ‘not guilty’ then I have to face the horrendous prospect of a trial, family I have had nothing to do with for years, and do not wish to see will be called as witnesses, people will have to travel and make arrangements with work and child care providers to be there, never mind the police, courts, jurors, barristers time that will be taken up. All because a low life scumbag cannot take responsibility for his actions and admit to what he has done! On the other hand maybe he has developed a conscience after all and will admit his guilt. We can but hope!

In the meantime, I need to try and calm my many emotional states and wait for that dreaded phone call.

To anyone who is going through similar, my heart goes out to you. We’ve been through enough already, this is as much a traumatic time as the original events. Keep strong!

UPDATED 8TH MARCH

*I must warn you before you read any further this may be triggering and I make no apologies for my language!*

The last 24hrs have been hell on earth, as if my last 43yrs haven’t been already. So I put all my good practices to use. Listened to music, went out for tea with the kids, actually let people know how I was feeling so I could be supported (that’s a first, and I thank you all for your kind messages, they really have made all the difference). I ate tons of chocolate, cake and general stodge, not good I know, but allowed in the circumstances. I used my mindfulness to help calm my body, which was by now having a merry spasm all of its own and candles to help my senses which were haywire and overwhelmed. All good stuff, and yep they worked for the time being, because I would know tomorrow what the outcome was, I just had to hold tight!

So… this morning I am walking the tightrope, anger and rage seem to be the general theme, it’s ok let them pass, alls ok, surely they’ll call soon and let me know what’s going on. This case is about my experiences afterall!

Lunchtime, still no news, right my thoughts are now turning to they really do not give a shit! They’re taking the fucking piss, and how the heck do they expect us to hold it all together, actually for all the talk in the media and through organisations, operation hydrant, the IICSA etc, etc, it all seems to be good and focused on supporting survivors, jeez the people I am waiting on a phone call from are actually called ‘Victim Support’, it’s gotta be good right? NO!

So I call them…their response, ‘oh we’re sorry you were on our ‘to do list’ for today, yeah erm the plea hearing has been adjourned til 22nd March. These things happen unfortunately’. SO NO ONE THOUGHT TO FUCKING LET ME KNOW!!!

I broke down on the phone and told them that this is affecting my physical and mental health. The lady was kind and asked if I was by myself and if I had any support. All good, great, so they have ‘some’ sort of training. But come on!!! Let us know what the hell is happening as soon as you know. I have had to chase the police every step of the way, so now I have to chase the justice system too? How am I meant to feel that i can trust this system? Where exactly do victims and survivors fit into the wheels of ‘justice’? How many times will this case be adjourned? How much longer can one person carry this heavy burden before they snap and say I am out, or god forbid do something to harm themselves, because I can see how easy that would be to end this nightmare? I am literally hanging on by my fingernails right now and the last thing I think about this whole shite mess is, glad that I reported.

Which is why I am sat here writing this as my release.

Anyone who tells us that we should keep things like this to ourselves are infact only adding to our shame, guilt and likelihood of internalising the pain by self-harming. Please if you are in this position, reach out. Tell a trusted friend, ISVA, or contact NAPAC or Survivors UK to find a local charity or support group.

I will be taking my own advice and informing my family, ISVA and mental health team of where I’m at. I have not come this far, only to come this far!

 

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Diary entry 16th November 2016

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Alot has happened since I last wrote here in July. One of the better things was I took my two youngest children on holiday to Tenerife by myself. This was a huge feat. Most people look forward to holidays, a break from the norm, a time for letting go and relaxing. This is and isn’t what goes on in my head. I have to wrestle with one of the ‘other me’s’ who panic, catastrophize and generally feel a sense of dread. Well we got there ok, after me booking not only the wrong date, but wrong hotel at the airport, so that I didn’t have to drive in the dark (I do not go out on an evening if I can help it at all). Well my bossy, self critical self, took great pleasure in letting my know how useless I am and how I should have just cancelled and stayed safe at home!

The holiday itself was fantastic! Exactly what was needed, my physical body relaxed and soaked up the vitamin D, meaning some of the daily aches and pains were relieved. I got to spend real quality time with my kids and I got an insight to what it could be like to be someone else for a while, carefree and weightless. God I need to move abroad! Yeah I know this wouldn’t work in theory, my shattered selves would still be there, but I totally get why people walk out of their lives to start afresh and re-invent themselves. Fuge, is the medical/technical term I believe.

Anyway this high was short lived, the day after returning I had to have a medical with a psychologist to file a report for my solicitor. F#ck Sake! Three hours of going over my whole life in minute detail again. Forget the holiday, you are now well and truly back in trauma territory!

I asked the Dr at the start of our meeting, ‘So what is today all about? What are you wanting from me? She responded ‘Oh it’s nothing too worry about, we’re just going to talk about your life from the start to the present day’. WHAT…nothing to worry about. I know they have a job to do, I know that in the long run this is for my benefit, but I really do think they have little to no idea how harmful this is to us in the here and now. How for days, and weeks after, we are re-submerged to the pits and it’s a long hard crawl back out. Needless to say I left her office in a crumpled heap of mush, feeling like my insides had been scrapped out with a dirty rusty knife!

Which brings me to the police, I had sort of got it in my head (down to what they had said) that when I got back from holiday they would have some news from the CPS. Nope…2 months later and after my ISVA asking them numerous times to contact me, still nothing. I find this really hard to deal with. It’s like they really do not give a shit. I mean yeah they may feel like there’s nothing significant to report back, but to me all I need to hear is have the CPS been in touch at all? Are we further up the queue? Is something happening or will it be another few months? Really not much to ask that I be treated with some humanity, compassion or respect.

I get that they are snowed under, I get that they are there to do a job and not to be a shoulder for victims, but come on folks, it’s just basic human decency and only further damages the victim and survivors trust in them or the judicial process.

So that’s pretty much where I am today, still waiting on the police and CPS…

It’s been 19months since I made my ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) statements, its a long process I keep being told.

Please let this be over soon so I can actually access psychotherapy!

 

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Diary entry 8th July 2016

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Wow I never expected my last entry to wipe the floor with me. I can honestly say that over the past few days I have been on a rollercoaster.

My emotions have been manic, from feeling really pleased with myself that I had taken to the keyboard and how awesome it would be to be able to help other people going through similar experiences.

To wandering what the hell am I still doing here. I mean if the rest of my life is going to be just more of the same, then have I got the strength, resilience, motive to keep going! And more to the point who the hell cares either way.

‘Who do you think you are, why would anyone care about what you’ve been through, pull yourself together and stop attention seeking!’. This is the sound of my ‘other’ voice, the one I have to try my best to soothe, reassure and calm down, which is exhausting!! Like a wrestling match, sometimes I am on top, at other times this part of me takes the lead and I have no idea how long its staying for, minutes, hours, days? Who knows…

I have now come to accept that I have many parts, not definitive as in multiple personalities, moreso splinters of a whole that hold various emotions. At the moment some of those parts are overwhelming and come and go randomly and at the most inappropriate times, as in I have NO CONTROL over them. For example recently my daughter’s school invited us to watch a dance they had performed, which had won them an award. Fabulous, proud mother and all that, I watched. Then I found myself instantly sucked back through a time warp to when I was 9yrs old and doing an Irish dance. Wow!! Not now flashback, this is not the time or the place. I felt my eyes welling up with tears and I had to really focus on my breathing to calm down my nervous system. All whilst stood alone, in a field surrounded by other parents clapping. Great!

Other parts/splinters/call them what you will, I am numb to. It’s like I cannot access them, they’re locked behind the ‘do not open’ door. An example of this,  I actually never felt a thing when my partner of 4yrs said it was over. Not a tear, no sadness, nothing, nil, nada. This is not natural, I know that, but I can’t feel it, if you understand what I’m saying.

I also understand that this is my minds/bodys way of shielding and protecting me right now, with everything else that is going on with the police, solicitor, trying to keep my mask straight etc, this could be the final straw that breaks me. But you see, I’ve had so many of these straws that my mind automatically files them into the ‘ugh, oh, not now, can’t deal with this. Store in the numb folder’. Thing is my rational mind knows this is only storing up future trouble and means I am unable to process things and move on…hmmm. The brain is amazing I appreciate that, but it can also be so efficient that it keeps us unhealthily stuck in a loop that we can’t seem to escape.

Which leaves me with the dilemma do I just come on here when my rational brain is in charge, fluff it all out about how I simply did A, B and C. Miraculousy found myself and give you a clear map of how you too can be overwhelmingly happy and completely free?

Or do I tell it like I experience it? Wonderfully, up and manically down, juggling life and my many masks of being Mom, friend, professional, victim, survivor, blogger, student, broken, ill, fantastically together, obsessive compulsive, etc, etc, etc…

It’s time for me if anything to get real. Being real here allows me to get it all out, whilst also admitting things to myself that I have been keeping sealed.

If there’s one thing I have learnt it’s this, the more open and honest it get, the more I am able to voice the internal dialogue, the more I am able to seek professional help, the more chance I have of finding myself. Finding all of my beautiful, whacky, awesome parts. Because as a Whole, I am free…

Which brings me to a wonderful video I watched by Jayne Hardy founder and CEO of The Blurt Foundation on #WhatYouDontSee

A wonderful angel I met on my travels described it like this (please excuse the expletive, It absolutely is necessary in this instance). He said ‘you look great on the outside, but underneath you’re peddling like a bastard’.

Til next time…

 

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Diary of my personal journey of disclosure…

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There’s so much backstory to where I am today starting this blog about my journey in disclosing to the police, navigating the mental health system, the affects on my physical health and the possibility of having to go through a trial.

For me they are all interlinked, every time I have contact with the police for instance, my physical and mental health suffers. Visiting the doctor is necessary, but fills me with dread, does he think i’m wasting his time and it’s all in my head, but how then can this pain and fatigue be so intense. Surely no one can be in so much pain and feel so dreadfully ill unless there’s something life threatening going on?

Here’s the thing I’ve learnt from talking to a psychotherapist. Our bodies absolutely believe we are about to die, our nervous system is stuck in the ‘on’ positon, if like me you dissociate, then before you are aware or able to calm the system you go from numb, to high stress, to dissociate before you can even blink. So it is no wonder that our bodies become worn out way before our years would predict. (For more info on the physical health affects of developmental trauma see my vlog on Nadine Burke Harris and the ACE study)

I have also had to resign myself to the fact that the police are simply doing their job, with the best of the little resources and time they have (given the cuts to their profession along with the sharp increase in disclosures). This does not in any way make it right though. If we had been victims of any other crime, we most likely would have been appointed a family liason officer, we may have been treated with a little more consideration and we most certainly could have expected that we would be kept up to date with how the investigations were going. This is not my experience.

I absolutely feel that due to the police’s handling of my case, my mental health has suffered greatly, that it is those who shout the loudest that get heard, that I have to approach them to find out if there are any updates, that I feel like a pest, when this should never be the case. I have heard that many forces are re-training officers to provide a better specialist service to victims and survivors of non recent abuse. Great, but this cannot come soon enough. Yes the actual disclosing is done in a nicer environment, yes they are ACTUALLY listening now (I previously reported back in 2007 and they literally sent two male officers out, I am female, who took a few very basic notes and I never heard from them again). Yes they are investigating what must be difficult cases given the lack of physical evidence and the length of time that has passed. But still there is a long way to go before they are offering any form of adequate service.

With regards to the mental health service, this I am aware can be a postcode lottery, in my case I have been very lucky (albeit through the professional training and knowledge I have gained whilst training in counselling) that I was able to self-refer. My G.P has little knowledge of the long term physical and mental health effects that survivors face, such a shame given that this is crucial in referring to the appropriate specialist care and that they are the ‘gate keepers’ in accessing almost all of these services. So after years of being sent for a whole host of invasive investigations, only for the consultants to look at me with that same ‘it’s all in your head gaze’, they would send me back to my G.P with no further action. Back to the drawing board, whilst my body screamed there is something seriously wrong here, why is no one listening! I must add that initially I was sent to a CFS/M.E clinic, but on arrival I read a leaflet that talked about victims and survivors, at this time I was not ready to even admit it to myself, let alone any type of professional so again I was sent back to my G.P. I guess what I am trying to say here is, it can be an uphill battle if we are not yet ready to admit to ourselves and the G.P is going in blind, with no real full history of what the person before them has experienced, then a lot of years, NHS funding, specialist’s time and the patients health will have been wasted. When a simple form like the one that ACE’s study provides, would have helped to open up a dialogue. Doctor’s absolutely need to be trained in disclosure, many of them will not want the responsibility of treatment and they’re human beings who may feel uncomfortable with the subject. We get that. But with the help of a simple form, the patient would be able to open up, the G.P can then refer them to the appropriate consultant and/or mental health team/counselling service and everyone feels heard, supported and on their way.

I did eventually return to the CFS/M.E clinic and open up about my history, I was then diagnosed after 4yrs of going here there and everywhere. But this only happened again as a result of my training and personal research. How on earth are people supposed to ask for the right help if the ‘professionals’ have no idea…

Back to the mental health team, like I say I am one of the lucky ones, after two assessments I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD. Fabulous, eureka, I can finally be on the road to recovery right?…erm, not quite. You see if you have an ongoing case and it’s likely that it will result in your having to go to court and give evidence, then no, you cannot actually have any psychotherapy…What? This is crazy!!!

Yup it absolutely is, again, what other victim of any crime is not allowed to have the right support, treatment and help to aid recovery. This world and its systems really does defy any logic at times.

So here I am, on anti-depressants, sleeping tablets, and awaiting an appointment for a group session to help with breathing and calming techniques. It’s like I am literally being kept upright, then knocked out at night, until such time as I can get into court, give my evidence, and then FINALLY, finally be allowed to access the treatment I so badly need.

It should not be like this…

Oh and relationships, not a chance. Between being in pain, having minimal energy, rages of anger, trust issues and the impending doom of this trial (if the CPS ever bring about any charges) my life is on hold and my relationship of 4yrs has been left crumbled under the rubble.

That’s where i’m at folks, waiting. I will do my best to update my journey as often as I can…

TBC…

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So it’s Mothers Day

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For anyone who has wonderful memories of their Mother tucking them in every night, ensuring that they are safe and snug, offering a kiss on the forehead and wishing them a good nights sleep and an ‘I love you’ on the way out of the door. This post probably isn’t for you. If you’ve become this kind of parent, inspite of all you have been through, fan bloody tastic! You are awesome!

For many of us, Mothers Day, only conjures up feelings of anger and resentment of not being blessed with a mother (parents or caregivers) who did what is says on the tin. You know like in the movies, or the wonderful shows of affection your mates have on social media with their parents.

For me, Mothers Day is tinged with sadness, don’t get me wrong I have amazing kids that have taught me so much, and god only knows where i’d be without them. But today is just another on the long list of triggers.

Remembering pushing her up the hill, drunk as a skunk and completely embarrassing me infront of my friends. How those same friends would say they wished their parents were as cool as my Mom, who allowed me to smoke at 11yrs old, get pregnant at 14 and gave me my first dose of speed in my early 20’s.

The same mother who in my early years, could hardly get out of bed to make sure I was up for school. The same mother who was a ‘hot blooded’ woman with needs, who left us in the care of ( …removed whilst court case ensues), so that she could get her needs met (i’m sure you don’t need me to fill in what happened here). The same mother who sat us in front of the telly (or video in those days), with a bag of sweets to keep us amused, all whilst we could hear her having rampant sex in the next room, or even the next bed! The same mother who took me to a university campus and let a stranger assault me, while she was with yet another man. So many men, so many journeys to strange peoples houses.

The same mother who taught us to play the’ i’m hungry, I need new shoes game’. This was pre-planned before we got to whoever’s house it was that week. Mom says ‘when we get there, after a bit, you’ll start complaining you’re hungry. Or that your feet are hurting because you need new shoes’. So I did as I was told. Only for my mother to feign shock/horror at my rudeness and flash the eye lashes as the victim coughed up and I was left broken and abandoned again. I didn’t understand or like this game.

The same mother who chose to believe her husband over me and meant I had to leave home at 15 for my own safety.

This is just a snapshot of what ‘Mothers Day’ brings up for me, non of it pleasant.

Learning to deal with these triggers and wrestle some control over them is a lifelong battle. I am on the winning side, I will get there. It’s just that days like today, make you feel like you’ve slid back down the slippery slope and the walk back up feels insurmountable.

Get back up i will, because that’s what we do best…

 

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