‘Damaged children’ grow up into ‘damaged adults’ and that can continue for generations unless they get the help and support that they deserve and need.
- Any incident of abuse will make the victim feel powerless and not in control.
- It will make them feel ashamed and silly that they put themselves in a position to be abused in the first place
- They will have an overwhelming urge to tell but for many reasons may not have the courage to.
FINDING THE COURAGE TO TELL
All I remember is that from the age of 7 I was so unhappy at home and school. I remember being hungry, smelly, cold and unloved. I remember being told on a day to day basis how thick and how stupid I was and this was backed up by the beatings at every opportunity.
The stress we endured 24/7 was immense.
When are we going to eat today? when are we going to be shouted at today? when are we going to be hit today? who am I going to try and protect today? am I going to be abused today?
My life was spent constantly looking over my shoulder, listening to what was going on, being on alert for anything that was about to kick off. Talking when I should, being quiet when I should, having eye contact when I should, not having eye contact, crying and not crying when it was expected. No wonder all I wanted to do as a kid was to hide away and not be seen by anyone! No wonder I have trouble making eye contact with people now when it is expected.
1st Disclosure – When I found the courage to tell the 1st time through my story writing at school, I was asked if what I had written was true. When I said yes they could not believe what I had written although I was dressed in rags, I smelt of wee, I was dirty from lack of washing and always hungry.
2nd Disclosure – When I found the courage to tell the second time directly to the social workers who was checking up on us at my step mothers house. They told me that I looked well and asked how things were. I told them that the clean clothes I had on was to impress them and when they had gone I would be made to change out of them and put on my ‘normal’ clothes again. The food that they had seen us eat was for show and that we would not be fed again that day & we were hungry all the time. They told me not to make up lies and left.
3rd Disclosure – When I found the courage to tell the third time I was 15. I explained to someone the situation at home and that I needed to get out, they listened and then said all adolescents have arguments with their parents its all part of growing up. I was advised to go home and just let the argument pass.
After awhile you start to think that it is not worth trying to tell and you just put up with it until you are in aplace where those adults do not have the power and control over you anymore!
In my case it was when I was 15 1/2 and I left home a few weeks later for good and decided life on my own would be far better even though I had no money, nowhere to live etc.
This was the 1st step to FREEDOM and sorting out my life. I am 46 and I now help others sort out their lives.
Stories have been coming out in the media over the last 4 years:
- Abuse in the church
- Abuse in the care system
- Abuse with celebrities
- Abuse within the home is yet to surface but the Children’s Commissioner is doing a 2 year investigation into this. At the end of Year 1 the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield released a report stating that 7 or of 8 child victims/survivors have not been identified yet. http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/news/only-1-8-children-who-are-sexually-abused-are-identified-professionals
Sexual abuse of children occurs throughout British society.
Abuse knows no bounds, it crosses cultures, genders, backgrounds and socio-economic groups.
It is a societal problem and we need to deal with it accordingly and with a #zerotolerance policy.
The present system of child protection was bureaucratic and riddled with prejudice and fear, and badly in need of reform.
People have been shocked by all the different abuse stories in the media but don’t realise the extent of the problem.
We talk about the different reports of abuse in isolation, let’s put them altogether and look at the bigger picture – let’s now see how huge a problem #child abuse is in our society.
ABUSERS / CHILD MOLESTERS
Abusers/child molesters are usually respectable people to the outside world who can be male or female. Abusers/child who have power in some way over a vulnerable person or group of people.
The perpetrators know that they have this power and they exploit it to get what they want. They don’t care about their victim’s needs and wants.
I would like to see a national body formed to oversee the reporting of child abuse, prosecutions, and aftercare for victims and families. For this to work it would need to be properly funded and have clear policies, procedures and governance.
Whistleblowers also need more protection to encourage more to come forward. As things stand people are unlikely to report any concerns they might have for fear of losing their jobs and their homes. Statutory reporting is a must this takes away any uncertainty in reporting child abuse.
Abusers have to know they will be found out and brought to justice. Victims must be heard and given the help and support they need.
Children of any age do not want sexual contact. They just want to be loved and nurtured in the right way and be listened to.
I was mentally, physically, emotionally, severely neglected, sexually assaulted in my home and sexually abused outside of the home. When someone took notice of me (when I was vulnerable), praised me and gave me sweets (groomed me) I liked the attention. After the sexual abuse I felt sick, I was shaking and I felt dirty and used.
All I wanted to do was to get away and scrub myself clean.
I felt stupid and didn’t want to tell anyone at home because I thought I would get into more trouble.
Many children when they do find the courage to speak up are met with anger, hostility, disbelief and more abuse!
AFTERMATH OF ABUSE – WHAT VICTIMS FEEL
I was scared of my own shadow. I constantly lived in fear of being attacked verbally, physically or sexually. It’s very stressful living like this every day.
You grow up not believing in yourself because of everything that has been said and done to you.
You either shy away from confrontation and people – you withdraw into yourself
You come out fighting – literally, especially with your peer group or with people in authority. My brothers were always in fights at school. They didn’t want to lose every shred of power and control that they still had outside of the home.
If you have tried to tell before and no one believed you and you continue to get the daily abuse, then you start to accept your lot and over time you become numb to it and you just do what you have to in order to survive.
To deal with the unspoken pain that is often driven deep inside we may turn our attention to:
- Food either overeating (binge eating/bulimia) or under-eating (anorexia)
- Self Harm
- OCD (your best is never good enough so you re do it and re do it)
This is our release from what it is we are feeling but cannot express for whatever reason.
We may suffer from one or many of the following and these symptoms may come and go during our lives or be with us all of our lives:
- Low self esteem/anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Self harm/suicidal tendencies
- Drug/alcohol addiction
- Sexual issues and relationship problems
- Struggle with everyday life
HOW DID THE ABUSE AFFECT ME?
- I was abused in the home and bullied at school. This affected my school work, I couldn’t concentrate mainly because of the hunger and I missed vital developmental stages in my education by not being allowed to do my homework and not being in school whilst in Wales.
- I covered up my body in baggy clothes as much as I could even up til my late 30’s. I only started wearing dresses and makeup about 18 months ago because I do not like drawing attention to myself.
- I could not look people in the eye – it was very uncomfortable for me to do so because of the abuse I suffered when I did look my abusers in the eye.
- I suffer from bulimia when I am very stressed.
- I cannot have anyone walk behind me, I need to see people at all times so that I know what is going to happen.
- Before I released my book 1/9/2013 I was fearful of what people would think of me. I was ashamed of my background, I thought that my parents defined me. I didn’t like what they represented.
- I cannot stand people telling me what to do.
My biggest light bulb moment was when I realised that my past didn’t define me and I could be and do anything I wanted. All I had to do was work hard and I would eventually get there. I didn’t expect people to help me and still don’t. I find it extremely hard working in a team and to accept offers of help. I find it even harder to ask for help.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
- We need to acknowledge and accept that we have a huge problem on our hands and it needs to be addressed at the root cause. At a societal level with a zero tolerance policy to child abuse. Child abuse is morally wrong and is not acceptable no matter who you are or what you do. No-one is above the law.
- We need to put victims/survivors at the forefront of all reforms and investment in this area.
- People have been shocked as each different abuse story has hit the media but not enough to realise the extent of the problem.
- We are told that ‘lessons will be learned’ but this is all lip service.
- We need a major overhaul in how we deal with child abuse in this country. We need an independent governing body that deals with the reporting, prosecuting & sentencing of perpetrators and aftercare of the survivors & their families and the perpetrators and their families.
- We need complete transparency because of all the cover-ups that have happened. Individuals like me have lost faith.
- We need proper investment in this area.
PRACTICAL THINGS THAT CAN BE IMPLEMENTED QUICKLY
- Statutory reporting (there is an Issue’s paper coming out about this shortly).
- Educate children about normal healthy relationships, normal love and nurture.
- Need to believe the child.
- Educate parents especially if all they have known is abuse, we need to break the cycle.
- Consistent and appropriate therapy for the victim, the survivor and the perpetrator.
WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS?
What is the cost to the NHS from treating mental health issues as a result of child abuse? If we invest in preventing the cause of the problem then we will cut the huge cost of treating the symptoms.
There are many people like me and organisations that want to help but these are voluntary non profit organisations who are underfunded & overstretched.
- NAPAC Adult Support Line
- The Survivors Trust
- Rape Crisis
- The Southmead Project
- Survivors UK
- One In Four
- Survivors Network
and many many more voluntary organisations that have set themselves up to help support ADULT victims & survivors of #CSA.
Everything I have done so far I have paid for myself. I am not rich just a normal person who is trying to speak up and help others in my situation.
I wrote the book ‘Through The Eyes Of A Child’ to raise funds to pay for the work that I do under the ‘breaking the cycle ™ Health & Wellness’ umbrella.
Through The Eyes Of A Child (available on Amazon)
Parenting Without Tears (can be downloaded for free www.survivorsofabuse.org.uk)
‘breaking the cycle ™’ Self Help Book (available Autumn 2016)
‘Releasing The Shame™’ of Childhood Abuse
‘Unleashing your Inner Phoenix™’
‘Life After Abuse™’ Conference
‘breaking the cycle ™’ Health and Wellness C.L.E.A.N.E.R.® Living Programmes.
There are many solutions for survivors out there but they don’t know about them.
They need the help but they don’t want to be labelled and may not come forward of their own accord but if they were referred they would welcome the help support and guidance from specialist service providers.
So we need proper investment to put the solutions in place and give survivors access to the solutions to empower them to live their lives to the full!
Copyright Chris Tuck Founder & Director of S.O.B. www.survivorsofabuse.org.uk