I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. Without God's intervention in my life I wouldn't be here - NOW is the time for me to tell MY story by speaking the TRUTH about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being restored. This blog has helped me begin to get my voice back and documents the journey God is taking me on to heal me from the trauma and damage caused by that most appalling abuse.

Friday, 29 October 2010

FORGIVENESS - Some of my conclusions

Given the unique situation I find myself in I’ve been grappling with issues of forgiveness when you’re met with a wall of sheer defiance, denial, lies, no confession, no repentance and no admittance of fault.

As I’ve grappled with this subject, I’ve realised how abused, misused and badly represented the issue of forgiveness has been throughout years of church teaching and comments/judgement/bad counsel from other Christians. I’ve realised too that in order to forgive one must define what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn’t.

When I’ve spoken to Christians about being abused, tortured and disowned by my family many have responded with “have you forgiven them, you must forgive them”. Thus inferring that if I’d forgiven them then I wouldn’t need to talk about them or talk about what they did and how it’s affected my life.

Other Christians have pressed upon me that if only I forgave then magically all the hurt and pain would go away, impressing upon me that you cannot be a real Christian if you’ve not truly forgiven from your heart and sought all paths towards reconciliation. This infers that you cannot forgive and not want to be reconciled to the people who so hurt you. Many Christians told me that as they’re your family you have to forgive and forget and act like it never happened because they are your family and as a Christian I was sinning greatly to not do that or to not want to do that.

Some Christians have forced me into praying prayers of forgiveness towards my abusers which weren’t so much about me forgiving but more about them feeling they’d done their Christian duty in making me forgive and the rest was up to me complying.

Much of what was said to me implied that all the hurt and damage would just vanish from my life if only I could forgive and because I was so hurt and obviously damaged then I could not have really forgiven even if I thought I had. The hurt and confusion such comments caused me was immense.

There were so many different definitions and understanding about forgiveness in the many things said to me. But none of them worked because each of them was a phoney forgiveness. A forgiveness that forgives, forgets, acts as if the wrong never happened, ignores the hurt and pain, pushes it all under the carpet. That is not real true forgiveness.

My understanding of true forgiveness in the context of Christian understanding is that it always happens within a framework of confession, repentance, admittance of fault, apologies, and so on. A making things right with the person wronged in some way – either through reconciliation or making good in some meaningful way.

Many Christians have said to me well if Jesus could forgive HIS tormentors and murderers from the cross then you should too. I’m not all that sure I agree with that. I don’t agree with that because I am not Jesus, I can only be ME grappling with the hurt and damage in my life. I do not have the totally secure relationship with HIS Father (my Safe Daddy) that HE had. Also I do not agree that Jesus did forgive in the words that HE uttered. Jesus could have chosen to say “I forgive them” but HE didn’t. It is recorded that HE actually said from the cross was – “Father forgive them..."

That prayer Jesus uttered from the cross is something I keep coming back to over and over again.

There is something very profound in those 3 words and something to learn from them.

There is a reason why Jesus did not say “I forgive them” but rather “Father forgive them” - it's as if Jesus Himself really grappled with forgiving the people who were doing such dreadful things to HIM and actually struggled with it Himself and in HIS love and compassion in the end Jesus passed it on to HIS Father to do the forgiving because in HIS humanity it was too big and too hard for HIM to deal with.

In grappling with this subject I’ve had to redefine forgiveness for myself.

As I’ve been in this process of understanding and redefining what true forgiveness really means for me it was interesting to read this article about forgiving on Overcoming Sexual Abuse’s website, along with comments readers made in response to it. http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/10/28/what-about-forgiveness/.

At the same time I also read this blog post approaching the subject from a different angle - http://emergingfrombroken.com/forgive-the-abusers-a-bit-of-a-rant/

Both those articles helped me define better for myself what I was thinking and feeling about the subject and have informed the conclusions I’ve come to.

My understanding of true forgiveness in the context of Christian understanding is that it always happens within a framework of confession, repentance, admittance of fault, apologies, and so on. A making things right with the person wronged in some way – either through reconciliation or making good in some meaningful way.

I do not believe that outside of that framework true meaningful forgiveness can occur; only partial forgiveness.

True forgiveness involves laying the blame where it lies – on the shoulders of the wrongdoer – which involves confrontation but does not necessarily have to lead to reconciliation. Reconciliation should never be the aim of forgiveness.

Reconciliation may be a by-product of forgiveness but is not and cannot be the main reason for seeking confrontation in order for forgiveness to occur.

I’ve never sought nor wanted reconciliation with my abusers despite many Christians trying to convince me that I could not be a real Christian and not want a relationship with them. This to me is a crazy viewpoint.

Who would want to be in a relationship with people who deliberately and systematically tortured, humiliated and abused you? It seems crazy to even suggest that. But so many Christians have done just that – reminding me that if you forgive you forget and so should re-establish a relationship regardless of what had happened. How can anyone forget 20 years of abuse and torture? To do that would be to deny me a history. That is total madness.

I may not have had a childhood but I still had 20 years of memories and history which all inform and helped create the person I am today. So many times I’ve wanted to be able to say “yes I have a family, yes I am/was loved, yes I am/was accepted by my parents/family. So many times I’ve wished it possible to change history. But it isn’t possible to do that, you can only learn to live with the truth!

Only admittance from the person who wronged you enables true forgiveness. A person who will never confess or repent, but continue to deny, defy, lie, refuse to admit any wrong cannot be truly forgiven nor is deserving of forgiveness.

Forgiveness in itself does not heal a person. However, it may be a catalyst that kick starts the process of healing.

In redefining forgiveness for myself I’ve come to see that forgiveness is not a one-time event but rather a process of letting go your hands from around the neck of the person who wronged you and keeping them by your side.

I’ve had to get go my dream that my abusers would one acknowledge something was wrong, which they’ve never done. All my life there’s been this great pretence of normality and nothing is wrong. Any acknowledgement of wrong would have made a huge difference to me but it never came.

When confronted with the legal consequences of their behaviour a wall of defiance, denials and lies prevented their exposure and caused me immense anguish. Letting that dream go was immensely agonising for me. As I let dream go I let go any other hopes I’d ever had of them ever apologising. I also had to let go my hopes that one day they’d relent and recognise my existence as their daughter.

By accepting that it was possible to move on to no longer expecting, wanting for hoping for anything from them. I moved from being totally overwhelmed by pain to a place where I can begin to believe there is a way through to healing.

I don’t claim to have ‘nailed’ an understanding of forgiveness, but rather I’ve come to understand that for me forgiveness is a process of letting go day by day.

As I do that the door is opened to allowing healing and soothing to come into my wounds so I can have hope and a vision for a future that is no longer captive to my past.

By understanding forgiveness in this way I’m able to take my life back and free myself of those invisible ties to my abusers. I know I will continue to over the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Each time I speak out the truth of what happened I take a little bit of my life back.

Every bit of my life I take back the more I win and the more my abusers lose.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I HAVE SEEN SUFFERING MAKE HEROES OF SOME OF MY CHILDREN, Desmond Tutu

I HAVE SEEN SUFFERING MAKE HEROES OF SOME OF MY CHILDREN

The strength with which they endure their pain is a shining example to all

But sometimes, child, suffering is only suffering

It seems gratuitous, it feels meaningless, it teaches nothing, it brings no gifts

IT JUST IS

It just is and you feel alone, abandoned, forsaken

YOU THINK I HAVE GONE SO YOU RUN

Your mind skitters away from the heart, your body shrinks away from the pain, your heart tries to shut itself against the suffering

I SEE YOU RUN

You don’t believe that I am with you

BUT I AM THERE

When you stop running from the pain and turn to face it, when you can step into the agony and let it be, when you can turn to your own suffering and know its name

THEN YOU WILL SEE ME

YOU WILL SEE ME IN THE HEART OF IT WITH YOU

It doesn’t matter if your body is wracked by pain or your mind is spiralling through aches and anguish

When you stop running you will see me

I WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU, I CANNOT ABANDON YOU

YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I AM WITH YOU


Desmond Tutu; "Made for Goodness"

YOU ARE MY CHILD, Desmond Tutu

YOU ARE MY CHILD, MY BELOVED, WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED

STAND BESIDE ME AND SEE YOURSELF, BORROW MY EYES SO YOU CAN SEE PERFECTLY

When you look with my eyes then you will see that the wrong you have done and the good left undone; the words you have said that should not have been spoken; the words you should have spoken but left unsaid; the hurts you have caused, the help you’ve not given

ARE NOT THE WHOLE OF THE STORY OF YOU

You are not defined by what you did not achieve; your worth is not determined by success

You were priceless before you drew your first breath, beautiful before dress or artifice

GOOD AT THE CORE

And now is time for unveiling the goodness that is hidden behind the fear of failing

You shout down your impulse to kindness in case it is shunned, you suck in your smile, you smother your laughter; you hold back the hand that would help

You crush your indignation when you see people wronged or in pain

In case all you can do is not enough; in case you cannot fix the fault; in case you cannot soothe the searing; in case you cannot make it right

What does it matter if you do not make it right? What does it matter if your efforts move no mountains?

IT MATTERS NOT AT ALL

It only matters that you live the truth of you; it only matters that you push back the veil to let your goodness shine through; it only matters that you live as I have made you; it only matters that you are made for me

MADE LIKE ME

MADE FOR GOODNESS


Desmond Tutu; "Made for Goodness"

Desmond Tutu about Dissociation, Torture, Forgiveness and related issues

A friend passed me Desmond Tutu’s book “Made for Goodness” as she thought I may find it helpful. Desmond Tutu is writing in the context of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” hearings into horrific torture carried out by the South African security police in South Africa following the end of Apartheid in South Africa and other suffering he has witnessed including the genocide in Rwanda. He is writing in the context of how he has seen people who’ve experienced the most appalling cruelty and torture make their journeys towards healing and wholeness. Some of what he wrote I found very helpful considering my current circumstances and wrestling with horrendous cruelty and injustice.

“Hidden inside the adult is the child with all her happiness, all her worries and all her unhealed hurts... allow your heart to open and soften toward that child...

Finding our way back to ease inside ourselves, finding our way home to goodness, will be a journey we will have to make often... we slide into habits of thoughts... patterns of behaviour... we constantly stumble over the same stone... time and time again we find ourselves falling over the same failing. We recognise what we have done and consider who we have become. Then we can decide to make the journey home.

We return to ourselves, to our godliness, to wholeness... recognition is the first step of the journey home...

When I have been harmed I need to gather myself up from brokenness... I need to be restored to wholeness...

Each of us is hurt, each of us has hurt. Each of us need to gather ourselves up from brokenness and be restored to wholeness. We need to find our way back to goodness.

When a person endures an extreme or traumatic injury, the brokenness can be expressed as Dissociation... something shattered in the trauma, something that needed to be gathered up, collected, healed.

Few of us have experienced trauma this great. But all of us dissociate in some way when we forget or abandon our innate goodness. In so doing we step away from wholeness. An essential part of us is silenced, denied or ignored. While the quantum of anguish may change, the characteristics stay the same. Whether we endure torture or we face a workplace dispute, we experience harm or suffering.

It is not the fact or the feelings that differ; it is the degree...

Anyone can make the decision to be more mindful of their words and deeds and of their effects. Anyone can choose to cultivate compassion. Anyone can commit themselves to returning ever more speedily to the goodness that is their true home.

In an extraordinary way, we can return to goodness more quickly when we have a clear vision of the present. That clarity about the present is rooted in making peace with the past.

Putting words to our pain begins the process of building that peace. In speaking the truth of our pain, we start to collect the memories of what we have done or experienced. When we retell our stories we can be heard into healing. We can be heard back into healing, heard into wholeness, back to goodness, back home to ourselves.

For the victims to tell their story of what they endured was an opportunity for healing, an opportunity to recover the dignity lost in the terror of torture...

Being heard into healing is a need... it is a basic human need that we all share. If we are lucky or blessed we find people with the gift of presence. These are people who can hear us into healing.

Often people come... not looking for advice or counsel. We don’t have the answer. We don’t have to solve the problem. They just want a listening ear. A listening ear can help people to work out their own wisdom... I just sat, listened, smiled or sighed and nodded. They figured it all out for themselves...

Sometimes it is in sharing how we are affected... that we open the door for another person’s healing. The journey homeward to healing can traverse some rough terrain. When the wounds are large and deep a salve is necessary... forgiveness can be the richest kind of healing balm. Forgiveness is not a form of forgetting. It is rather, a profound form of remembering. When we forgive, we remember who and whose we are. We remember that we are creative beings modelled on a creative God.

When we forgive we reclaim the power to create. We can create a new story for ourselves. When we find the strength to forgive we are no longer victims. We are survivors.

Forgiveness is not only a creative act, it is a liberating action. When we forgive the people who have harmed us, we liberate ourselves from the chains that bind us to our offender... they exert no control over our moods, our disposition, or us. They have no further part in writing the story that we must tell of ourselves. Forgiveness liberates us. We are free...

Finding our way back to goodness is ongoing work. To find our way home we will need a skilled guide. Let us turn into the stillness and listen to God speak with the voice of the heart”

Desmond Tutu; “Made for Goodness”; Chapter 9, Going Home to Goodness; Pages 143-144, 146-150

Friday, 22 October 2010

I've Survived

I've survived by pretending all was well (a learned behaviour from childhood) when all wasn't well, wearing a false smile when inside my heart was broken, I stayed alive just!

Now I'm being real, being honest, tearing those walls down and saying how it really was and how it really is, there is healing in that.

It is so healing to now be able to be real.

Now I'm learning there's a new way and that's learning to live not just survive, not just exist.

It's such a relief to finally be able to tell the truth, to finally be able to be real!!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

BETRAYAL, DEFIANCE, LIES, DENIAL, INJUSTICE, FORGIVENESS ISSUES

This post is about discussing the issues of forgiveness within the context of abuse. There is no need to define the type of abuse because all forms of abuse cause the same issues and damage. It also discusses forgiveness within the contexts of no confession; no repentance; no admission of fault; betrayal; defiance; lies; denials and injustice.

It is most definitely a discussion. It is not even looking for answers. It is an exploration.

I have no answers, and draw no conclusions as such because this discussion is my very personal journey.


I’m sure there are many who will draw encouragement from this discussion.

I’m also sure there are many who wish I could come up with answers.

To be honest I’m at the very beginning of grappling with this. I’m discussing this because I’m trying to process the most heart wrenching injustice and find a way forward.

I’m also entering into this discussion because I feel there is a need for real honesty concerning this subject. In too many Christian contexts there is a lack of real honesty just simplistic answers which do not allow for processing or honestly asking very deep questions that don’t have easy answers.

Sometimes being a Christian is really hard. It gets hard when gut wrenching life events mean you have to grapple with very deep questions to which there are no easy answers or easy solutions. Neither religious nor simplistic Christianity have any real answers when it comes to these issues.

As a victim of crime and a survivor of the most appalling sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and religious abuse I find myself grappling with issues to do with deliberate cruelty, betrayal, lies, denial, play-acting, justice, injustice, defiance and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard at the best of times, but is certainly easier if the person admits their fault, confesses and repents, maybe even apologises.

Forgiveness becomes virtually impossible when the guilty are faced with the truth, faced with the legal consequences, but do not respond with humility but with defiance, denials, play-acting and lies. By doing so they evaded justice. By doing so they evaded exposure of their crimes. By doing so they stuck 2-fingers in front of my face and in front of the face of God. By doing so they showed no comprehension of the way their actions, lies and denials when confronted with the truth tore my life apart.

I’m left wondering how on earth can I forgive when my abusers deny any wrongdoing, carry on their lives hard faced, glorying in their win, going about as if cruelty is normal and as if it is normal to have nothing to do with your daughter?

I’m also left wondering how God who hates injustice can allow such injustice to happen on top of all the injustices of all the other abuses. I’m left feeling that my life is just injustice piled on injustice until there is nothing left but injustice and devastation.

And so I’m left wondering how to move on.

I think there are layers of forgiveness, just as there are layers of guilt, grief, shock, bewilderment, disbelief – and any other human emotion you can think of. I think there are varying levels of forgiveness too.

To forgive is a choice but is the hardest choice to make in the face of bare faced defiance.

When someone receives your forgiveness that enables possibility of closure. But when all you have is defiance, denials and lies how can true forgiveness happen. There can be no real closure in such a situation, there will always be unfinished business.

People say it doesn’t matter if someone won’t or doesn’t receive your forgiveness, but actually it makes a huge difference and contextually it really does matter. I feel that opinion is too simplistic.

Without true confession and repentance the affect of their sin upon you cannot be nullified. The truth is without true confession and repentance there is no closure.

Forgiveness is a process, a journey and not necessarily a destination. It does help to keep speaking their name and saying I forgive you. Doing that over time it is possible to feel more compassionately towards the person who wronged you. But where there is only defiance and lies there is no justice, justice enables a move towards closure. Injustice leaves unfinished business and no closure.

Speaking the truth of what they did helps to put the blame and guilt where it lies and that is on the shoulders of the person who did the wrong not on the person who is struggling to forgive and honestly grappling with the hurt and lack of closure.

It’s very difficult in this situation to let go of them and leave them to God. When you’ve trusted God to bring justice and closure but instead you’re faced with defiance and injustice, it’s really hard to keep believing in a God of justice.

It’s simplistic to say just let go of the anger and the pain. Those are emotions that need processing not just denial. Getting beyond the hurt and pain is a process not just a one-time event in these situations. I think the same is true when it comes to real forgiveness in these situations too.

If only I had the love and compassion Jesus had. In a sense it was easy for HIM, HE gave up all HE had in heaven to come to this earth and bridge the gap between God and humans. HE knew HIS Father’s heart so well. HE was secure in HIS Father’s love and at one with HIM.

I'm an incredibly hurt insecure human being who, who struggles to trust, but who is also in relationship with God through Jesus but does not have that same level of complete trust in God Jesus had. I so wish I could be like Jesus, but I can only be me discussing with HIM how to see and understand HIS perspective on the unique situation I find myself in.

The other thing about Jesus is so many Christians have said HE forgave HIS tormentors and murderers from the cross. I’m not all that sure I agree with that. That is because what HE actually said from the cross was – “Father forgive them..."

That prayer Jesus uttered from the cross is something I keep coming back to over and over again. There is something very profound in those 3 words and something to learn from them. There is a reason why Jesus did not say “I forgive them” but rather “Father forgive them” - it's as if Jesus Himself really grappled with forgiving the people who were doing such dreadful things to HIM and actually struggled with it Himself and in HIS love and compassion in the end Jesus passed it on to HIS Father to do the forgiving because in HIS humanity it was too big and too hard for HIM to deal with – that’s my thoughts on that scripture.

Some have told me to let God take care of the offender because God is just. In itself that is a true statement but also minimises the process and can be perceived as extremely simplistic.

God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay” When you’ve trusted the leading of God through the legal process but am left with defiance and injustice at the end of that process, it makes it very hard to take God at HIS word because that trust and belief has been seriously undermined and shaken by the injustice and end result.

The real truth of real forgiveness goes way past simplistic statements. It takes you deep into the depths of your own broken heart and the depths of God’s heart of love and compassion. As those two collide a conversation takes place at a very deep level of understanding. It doesn’t always provide a straight forward solution or relief. Again we’re talking process, not one time events. The conversation takes place at different levels within both hearts. I think there’s a certain amount of going backwards and forwards and round and round during that conversation.

It's very hard when people are deliberately and defiantly non repentant and hard faced - turning up in church as if nothing is wrong and nothing has happened. Having to cope with your abusers turning up in church whilst deliberately sticking 2 fingers up at God is beyond the capacity of describe. Having to cope with your abusers continuing to use the church as their cover story is beyond awful and beyond hypocrisy. Having them do all of that on that back of having lied and denied to prevent justice and to prevent exposure is disgusting and distasteful at the very least. It is utterly appalling for me as a victim, for those who gave evidence against them to the police and for the church leadership who now know the truth about them. It’s totally ghastly and repulsive to be brutally honest.

It is as if they have no conscience at all. Sometimes when people have lied and denied for long enough they actually believe their lies and denials to be absolute truth regardless of evidence to the contrary. Thus they worm their way out of it and can be incredibly and frighteningly convincing in their true lies.

There is freedom in forgiveness – I read this definition of –
Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it is about letting go of the other person’s throat”
(The Shack, p.224)

I found that to be a very helpful analogy. When you’ve suffered terrible deliberate systematic cruelty for many years it is EXTREMELY HARD TO FORGIVE, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY. SOMETIMES ALL YOU CAN DO IS TO TAKE YOUR HANDS FROM AROUND THEIR NECKS, FROM AROUND THEIR THROATS. ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO DO THAT IS SO HARD.

I SENSE THAT GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE YOU CAN ACTUALLY DO THAT IS A PROCESS AS WELL AS A CHOICE.


Without confession, repentance, admission of guilt or other things which lead to closure surely it will always be there at the back of your mind. Having to watch your abusers behaving as if nothing untoward happened and all is normal fuels the fire. When people have been so deliberately cruel to you and are so defiant when faced with the truth where can you go? How can such defiance be coped with, processed and gotten out of your mind. It is in reality and in all truth extremely difficult. It’s almost impossible to forgive cruel people who lie, pretend all is normal and do all they can legally to silence you and keep their evil deeds secret.

I am talking here of real tough issues of life and faith where there are no easy answers. Forgiving wanton cruelty in the face of total defiance and lies is virtually impossible.

A friend of mine said to me regarding these issues – “
I feel people are mistaking "justice" for "revenge". Needing justice is not to be revengeful. It's about needing people to repent and face the truth of their crimes, and in an ideal world, ask for the person they abused, to forgive them and face their punishment by law with humility. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world and that is what is difficult to deal with. We need prayers and more support for the abused and bullied and for it not to be acceptable in our society any more. It is as hard to deal with others reaction towards abuse (or in my case Domestic Violence), they prefer to "turn a blind eye", which is equally as abusive. I guess there is no answer to how to get over it and move on, when it has affected you so much. Fix your eyes on Jesus Fi.


I found that incredibly helpful because as said earlier when people do not repent when faced with the lawful consequences of their actions and evade accountability, justice and exposure it makes it so much harder to deal with - I don't think these things can even be got over but rather be processed so it's possible to live with such awful, disgraceful, distasteful, disgusting truth somehow!!

I think there are some things that happen to us in life that are so awful we'll never "get over" them as such, but instead process them in order to be able live with the truth of what happened and the consequences - I think the term "getting over" is simplistic when faced with real gut wrenching heart breaking life events!

A friend give me the following excerpt from a memoir called “Battle for a Broken Heart: Recovering From Incest and Child Abuse” written by Nicholas Meadows. The excerpt was written to his mother, the person who had abused him and whom he was struggling to forgive.
I know I need to forgive you. When I think about forgiving you, I get... scared. I think that if I forgive you, then I am saying everything is okay. Mom keeps telling me that forgiveness is not the same as excusing, or forgetting. She says that forgiving is letting go of the hatred and trusting that God will do what is best. She says that forgiving is giving up any thoughts of revenge, or "I hope you burn in hell" ideas. I don't have any thoughts of revenge and I don't hope you burn in hell; it's just that I don't want to see you in heaven either. Mom tells me that in heaven, I will love everyone and everyone will love me, since heaven is perfect. I don't understand how I could possibly love you if I still remember what you did to me. I know that Jesus was tortured and killed because of us, yet HE still loves us. I guess if I had the kind of love that Jesus does, then maybe I would view you differently, but as of now I don't want to love you. I did that once and it cost me way too much. I do want to forgive you though, because I want to be completely free to move on. I don't want these feelings that tie my stomach into knots anymore. I am praying that God will "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10) I guess that at this point all I can truthfully say is that I want to forgive you, and I am trying to be the most loving person I can be. I pray that God will answer my prayer and give me a heart that can forgive and love as HE does.”

I found that really helpful because it really captured the conflicting thoughts and feelings involved in honestly grappling with these issues.


I know I will carry not only the abuse I experienced but this appalling injustice inside me for the rest of my life and will have to process in order to be able to live with it.

For me the sticking point is how do I find a way through the maze of hurt and out the other side of it - how do I process all that - I would like to be able to forgive, but right now I’m hurting so much it’s very hard just to process through the heart wrenching, gut churning agony.

My shattered heart wants to be able to forgive but doesn't even know where to begin.

But the more I write, the more I speak out, the more I'm honest about how darned hard this is, the more freedom I find in expressing what to begin with feels to be “the inexpressible”.

I guess the only way forward is to stay open, to stay honest and to stay leaning on the safe people in my life, Safe Daddy and Big Bruvver instead of closing up and turning the hurt inwards. And in so doing draw support and encouragement for the journey one baby step at a time!

Monday, 18 October 2010

SPIRITUAL + RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Please note this article is not about church bashing nor is it about Christian bashing. It is an exploration of a very painful, difficult, and for some people, an exceedingly touchy subject. It’s a subject which has caused me, and many other abuse survivors enormous anguish.

When speaking about this subject I have the same feelings I have when writing about the abuse and torture I endured. Spiritual abuse is a massive issue. It’s one nobody wants to talk about or admit exists because of issues of disloyalty and all the crap feelings that go with that. Just the same as twenty/thirty years ago no one wanted to talk about child abuse or admit it happened, but it did. Same with spiritual abuse, it happens more than anyone wants to admit or accept and no one really wants to acknowledge it or address it on a meaningful level. In writing about this topic I struggle with the issues that one shouldn't speak 'ill' or badly about the Christian family, same as one shouldn't speak 'ill' or bad about one's own biological family. There is just as much shame and guilt when exploring this issue.

That shows that spiritual abuse is still abuse - which in turn underlines the real nature of abuse.

Abuse is abuse whether it is spiritual, physical, sexual, emotional or psychological.


Abuse is about control and manipulation.
Whether is controlling your behaviour and belief system, manipulating your emotions; manipulating you to do and be what you are are expected to; brainwashing you to believe only certain things or just keeping you in a place where you are not free to be who and what you really are.
Abuse is abuse is abuse! Abuse of any kind is damaging and evil, whichever guise it takes.

Church was part of the fabric of my childhood; as much a fabric of it as the witchcraft, satanic rituals, superstitious belief system, the abuse and the torture. Life without church was for much of my life an utterly unthinkable concept. As a family we were in church twice every Sunday. We were at every important ‘religious’ event in the calendar and all church social occasions and meetings too. We played the ‘happy family’ deception every single time.

If that wasn’t enough religion I went to a church school which was half Protestant/half Roman Catholic. There was a physical barrier in the school which separated off the two religions and the two did not meet. Within that school I witnessed abuse being used to separate people. I also witnessed physical punishment for the most minor offences in the name of religion. This taught me that God was “the big man in the sky who saw all, heard all and knew all, who had a very big stick and was ready to pounce on you at the slightest misdemeanour and beat you with it”. You had to keep his rules and regulations and do good things but even then you could never be sure if you really pleased the big man in the sky with the big stick. The notion of a loving God was totally absent from my childhood and adulthood up until around my thirties.

I was abused with the bible. By saying that I mean I was beaten with passages from the bible as much as I was by my abusers’ fists, feet and mouths. My abusers used passages from the bible as they beat me to explain/excuse why they had to treat me like that. I deserved it because the bible said so... because the bible tells parents to hit their children... spare not the rod! My abusers also made me learn parts of the bible. If I could not recite them word for word on request a beating followed. I had a bit of a love hate relationship with the bible but still thought there was something in some of the stuff I read.

You’d think after a childhood so filled with religion I’d reject religion altogether. Well, yes and no. I was always a questioning child – something my mother detested and tried to beat and belittle out of me.

But deep inside that child always felt there was something in Christianity beyond what she’d experienced. Inside she was seeking answers. Inside as she began to go through her teen years into young adulthood she had friends at church who were not ‘religious’ but talked about God loving them and of being in a relationship with God. This was new and a huge departure from the rules, regulations and good ‘works’ kind of religion I’d grown up with.

In the end I decided to give God a try and remember 3 days before my 15th birthday, 15th Feb 1981, lying in bed after being abused saying to God in the total blackness that was my life “if you’re out there and if you love me and aren’t out just to punish and beat me, I could use a friend, so come and be my friend – oh and please stop the abuse.”

Something changed inside me that day, I knew I’d found what I’d been searching for. BUT the abuse continued for another 5 years. That was so hard. God has spoken with me over the last couple of years about how HE gives people free will and cannot over-ride that free will. My abusers chose to abuse me instead of love and accept me as HE wanted them to. Many times God pleaded with my abusers to change their attitudes and actions towards me and stop the mistreatment but they ignored HIM and carried on. I still struggle with the issue of free will, but it is true we all make choices for good or evil and we all reap the consequences of those choices.

I tried to tell the leaders of the church things weren’t right at home, all was not as it seemed with my parents. I was dismissively told to “not speak bad about them, they were upstanding members of the church and pillars of the community and I should respect them, not speak ill about them” and was told “if I had nothing good to say about my parents they didn’t want to hear it and to keep my mouth shut, be a good Christian, do what the bible says, respect your parents”. The church and church leaders failed me and blamed me for being bad for speaking evil about my parents/family.

After being forcibly ejected from the family home, left for dead and disowned I was left alone with only God for company. During the following three years HE gave me some friends from work and church who put me up and helped me get places to live when I found myself in tight spots.

For my own safety at the age of 23 I left my hometown and moved to the other end of the country. Once there I found a Baptist church which was similar to the Anglican church I’d known up north. People were very accepting but again I found a diet of religion and religious solutions which didn’t satisfy the longings in my heart and the searching of my heart. People were accepting of me but didn’t really know what to do with someone who was so damaged, so relationally impaired. Simplistic answers didn’t cut with me nor did ‘religious’ solutions, there was still something missing. They talked about healing of the memories, laid hands on me and prayed for me several times, but nothing happened.

After 6 years I went to help out at a Christian event called “Spring Harvest” and had a very powerful encounter with God there. The encounter was so powerful that it changed my entire concept and understanding of God, Christianity and the bible. I returned from that very different inside.

I was so different in fact that I found myself clashing with ‘religious’ platitudes and religious way of doing things which didn’t really address the deep issues of the heart and the deep questions inside. I could no longer tolerate those things. I could no longer tolerate religion or religious Christians. That was the beginning of me turning my back on religion, the traditional ‘church’, but not on God.

At the same time I went to see the Pastor of the church because I knew of two people in the church who worked for an organisation I did voluntary work for who were embezzling finances from that organisation. I was told to stop my lies. There was no way those people would be doing anything like that. As a result I had to leave the church. It was several years later that the dealings of those people were revealed in the local papers and one of them did jail time. I was vindicated but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Again the church, or leadership in the church, had failed to listen to me, had failed to deal with bad goings on within and I’d been the ‘fall guy’ again.

Throughout all this I was getting to know God through Jesus and discovering that HIS heart is full of love which I could not accept or receive because surely HE could not accept someone as bad and as wounded as me.

I moved on from the Baptist church to another much smaller ‘Pentecostal’ church. By then I was having serious depression and mental health problems.

At first I was accepted with open arms by people in the church. People in this church appeared to be very loving and everyone hugged one another. That was new to me and very scary. I don’t like touch although I crave it too. No one asked me if I wanted a hug just inflicted hugs on me. I got used to that over time. Sometimes I enjoyed the hugs and they were quite healing, depending on the person hugging of course, but sometimes the hugs were shallow. I’m very good at recognising the difference between the genuine and the false. Those were the hugs I disliked the most. Initially the church and some people in it seemed to have what I was looking for - hope and a relationship with Jesus that brought real healing and acceptance.

But again, once people got to know me and realised I was actually extremely depressed, badly relationally impaired and needed a lot of help and healing things changed. The pastor’s wife informed me that “I couldn’t possibly be a really Christian and be so depressed; I had to repent of my sin for being depressed; I had to repent of not accepting the healing Jesus had got for me at the cross; I had to tell those bad feelings/thoughts to go away. I was making a choice to be depressed. If I was a Christian I was a new creation so all the bad from the past had been dealt with at the cross... I had to forgive those who’d hurt me, forget and move on... I had read my bible more... pray more... do this... do that...

But none of that worked for me. None of it helped with the trauma, fear and damage in the depths of me. I left that church feeling a failure, feeling I hadn’t been good enough, feeling that the huggy lovey dovey style of the church was a false front. In reality they had no theology or acceptance for people who were real Christians but had real damage in their lives which needed real answers and real healing not platitudes, finger pointing and blame shifting. I had enough of that in the abusive home I grew up in and didn’t need it from ‘the church’.

So I left and went to another church and another and another. In each one I was initially welcomed but a pattern emerged of being initially welcomed until my brokenness became apparent. When it became obvious how damaged and relationally impaired I was I heard the same “new creation stuff over and over... forgive and forget over and over”. I found some people within these churches who knew Jesus like I did and were genuine in their love for HIM but no one had any real answers for me. I just heard the same old superficial religious answers and platitudes which didn’t help. In the end I could never conform to their image of what a Christian should say, be or do.

The penultimate church I tried was a really big church. My administrative abilities were recognised and after being there a few months I found myself working voluntarily for over 2 years as PA to the head of the pastoral team. But after a while I was informed that the leadership had stated that although I wore a pastoral team badge at services on Sunday mornings “I was not allowed to pray with anyone because I was such a mess.” That hurt me more than anyone will know. When the person decided to stop heading up the pastoral team I had meetings with the church leadership.

They wanted to use my administrative abilities but only if I could meet their demands on how I spoke, behaved etc. They could not accept the ‘ME’ that I was. They were not offering me any kind of support or help with healing, just the same old unhelpful, patronising, simplistic platitudes which didn’t satisfy, help or encourage. All they did was tear me down and blame me for being the mess I was. They could not accept the package that was ‘ME’. They wanted my abilities as an administrator but not the person who came with them. I decided that was an intolerable and unsustainable situation and walked away from that church with a broken heart.

I tried another after that and came across some really genuine Christians but again very simplistic solutions and platitudes which didn’t really help. In the end I had to completely walk away from ‘the church’.

I could not conform. I could and can only be me. The real ‘me’ is damaged and needs accepting, help and healing.

I never found that in any church I tried. So many Christians when they realised how wounded and damaged, totally relationally impaired and untrusting I was and yet I purported to be a Christian and to love Jesus – fingers pointed, the ’should’ words began to be spoken and it was turned on me that it was my fault I was so screwed up. That caused so much hurt and added to my confusion and left me with so many questions.

But whatever happened, I could never give up on God. I could never give up on Jesus because what I had with them was real. What I had with them was healing. What I had with them was so special.

In the end I walked away from ‘the church’. I stopped looking to ‘the church’. I stopped looking to people and walked straight into the arms of Jesus. I have ‘Christian’ friends who’ve raised their eyebrows at the fact that I’ve not been in church for nearly three years. Some even suggested I’m falling away or backsliding or even rebelling against God and the bible and have quoted the parts of the bible that tell you not to stop meeting together with other Christians.

The hardest thing for me has been that the so called ‘church family’ rejected me, blamed me and abused me and rejected me just as much as my biological family.
I’ve had to redefine ‘church’. ‘Church’ is actually about the gathering of people together in the name of Jesus. That can happen anywhere, including in the home and on the internet. Two Christians having coffee together and discussing what God’s been doing in their lives is actually ‘church’ in its most basic form.

Although I’ve not physically been inside a ‘church’ building for nearly 3 years except for several funerals I’ve actually connected with many Christians across the world over the internet, through a Christian chat room and more generally. My ‘church family’ is in my laptop. In some ways this is really good for someone so relationally impaired. I find it much easier to have relationships with people through the anonymity of a computer screen, over distance, where there are not the same trust issues than in physical relationships. There are still trust issues but at a different level.

My experience of ‘church’ and religious abuse has left me with many questions.
Why is it that so many Christians don’t get that you can be a Christian and be in such a mess. Why is that?

Instead of coming alongside me, giving me space to tell my story and helping, it was oh just forgive, forget, move on, it happened so long ago, stop harping on about it, stop dragging it up from the past. WHY IS THAT? How can I ever forget 20 years of abuse and torture? It may have happened a long time ago, but I live with it every minute I’m awake and then in my nightmares when I do sleep. For me it’s not in the past but very much in the present.

How can I forgive when my abusers deny anything ever happened? How can I forgive when my abusers say anything bad that ‘might’ have happened was because I such a bad person, they did nothing wrong?

Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of living with past sexual abuse? Why are churches and so many Christians so closed minded about the realities of the deep damage of childhood abuse and the complexities of the healing processes? Why do so many churches have systems in place to prevent abuse happening, but provide little or no support to REALLY help victims heal? Why is it that so many Christians tell you that as you are a Christian, you are a new person so your past is gone, so all the stuff from your past abuse should be gone too?

Why is it that so many Christians tell you that you are doing something wrong if you aren’t healing from the damage of the abuse or if you don’t have joy etc? Why do so many Christians tell you that if you read your bible enough and pray enough you should be fine? Thereby implying that you cannot be reading your bible or praying enough because you are a screwed up mess!

Why is it that so many Christians think you don’t need counselling or anything; you just need to get over it, forgive your abusers and forget it?
WHY IS THAT?”

One of the hardest things I found in church was the use of language. Calling God ‘Father’ is a huge trigger for me. It’s taken me a long time to be able to relate to God as my Safe Daddy. Talking about having secret places is bad for me too. I understand about the secret place of time alone with God, but talking about secrets and secret places are huge triggers for me. There is so much language used in church which can be triggers.

Many times over the years I heard so much talk about being family but noticed over and over that Christians are no different to people outside the church – they look after their own – all the talk about being family I saw over and over was very shallow. Rarely was I invited to lunch after church. At important times of the year such as Easter, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc, again very rare invites to lunch or meals. All the talk about being ‘family’ was so superficial. In reality I was very alone.

Going home from church, seeing so many of the rest of my friends at church going home to be with friends and family, and hearing them talk about their plans to do so increased my sense of isolation of having none to eat Sunday lunch with. It was hard to fight the feelings of jealousy I felt too. So often I left church feeling isolated and suicidal because of all those memories and all that pain. In the end I stopped going to church to avoid going through that pain each week.

I had another issue with going to church, or rather leaving church. The hardest thing in going to church for me was leaving church afterwards and heading home. That always sent me into a depression. I couldn’t handle it because deep inside I was reminded that as child going home from church meant walking back into hell. It meant going home to punishment beatings. It meant going home to the isolation of being in that hell hole of a home with none to come to my rescue.

Why is it that all these years later going home from church should trigger so much painful stuff, that now I cannot face going to church because I just cannot face that pain of going home from church alone anymore? Why is it that church is full of so many Christians who are simply not honest about the real struggles so many of us face in our attempts to survive and deal with the damage caused by our past abuse?

Why is it that church is the one place I avoid because I know I don’t fit people’s ideals as to what being a Christian should be?

Why is it that church is the one place that I avoid simply because I cannot face the questions and the ‘should’ statements anymore?


The truth is that over and over I've been accepted up to a point. That point is always when I could no longer dodge the questions about who are you? where are you from? who are your family? where do they live? Etc. That's when people started to get to know 'ME' and discovered I don't fit into their neat little box of 'how a Christian should be'. I don't have a nice. I am seriously relationally impaired and don't let people close, I cannot trust easily, it takes a lot for me to trust someone and let me get to know and see the real me.

Why is it that so many Christians are blind to the work that God is doing in my life because I’m not healing in the way or at the pace that they think I ‘should’ be? Why is it that I walk so closely with Jesus because I have to, I would not be alive if I didn’t, and yet feel such a misfit when I do summon up the courage to go to church?

I hate religion, hypocrisy and pretension, my childhood was full of that. I am real and really want to engage on a deep level with the issues which really matter. I realise many Christians I've met haven’t had to wrestle with the real deep gut wrenching issues of life and have an unrealistic simplistic theology which doesn’t give much acceptance or room for those of us who belong to Jesus but have huge mental health issues.

Most have been very simplistic about the abuse in my childhood saying you should just forgive, forget and move on which is totally unrealistic. I’m seriously allergic to religious and simplistic Christians.

My life has been devastated by the trauma and sustained terror I endured during the first 20 years of my life. I was so violated that I feel tainted to the core by those violations. It is because of these things and the deep need inside me to find real answers, real hope, real healing that has driven me to keep seeking and not quit until I found the answers. The damage is so deep and so complex that there are no simple answers and no simple solutions. The wonderful thing is that God has now brought some wonderful professional experienced amazing women into my life who are all giving me hope and walking alongside me, believing in me.

My heart was broken twice over, once by my birth family and second by the “church family”.

Thankfully I now have a small handful of Christian friends who see the real me who underneath that fake smile so desperately wants to heal. Thank you to all of you who are supporting me in my journey. Thank you for walking alongside me and praying for me, even though you may not always understand what is going on. You are slowly and surely restoring my trust and showing me the love and compassion of my SAFE DADDY.

It’s wonderful I have a voice now through my blogs. I love how God is connecting me with so many survivors over the internet and through the wonderful community which is the “Emerging From Broken” blog.

I discovered the 'churches' I went to and the ‘leaders’ in them wanted my abilities but didn't want me unless I conformed to their image of how to be, how to speak, how to act, even what to believe. They couldn’t accept the package that I was, that I am. Some wouldn’t even accept I could possibly be a ‘real’ Christian because of what the package looked like.

Now I have about a dozen Christian friends as well as other online ones who are supportive of me, understanding where I've come from and where I'm going and who can see Jesus in me and the work that HE is doing. I had coffee with one such friend recently. She said something to me which blew me away - she said "I was excited about seeing you and being with you because spiritually you carry something very special." It's good to remind myself of what she said!!

Sometimes there are no words beyond those that build someone up. Sometimes all that is required is for people to walk alongside someone, observe and pray and see the real “ME” beneath my fake smile. That friend is one of those people and I value her immensely, thank you for saying that to me.

That comment was very special because as I mentioned earlier some ‘Christian’ friends/acquaintances‘ have raised their eyebrows that I’ve not been inside a church for nearly three years now, apart from weddings and funerals. Some would call me a nominal Christian, even a backslider for that. Others have suggested I’m disobeying the bible by not going to church. But they are not the people who really know me.

I felt that point needed repeating because it is so easy to judge without having all the facts and being blind to what God is doing in someone’s life because their walk with God is unconventional and does not meet with your theology or understanding of how a Christian should be thus disapproval is felt or even communicated and causes more damage.

Those who do know the real ‘ME’ know that I have a very deep and close personal relationship with Jesus, my BIG BRUVVER and God, my SAFE DADDY. They are the people who can see and sense HIS work in my life, HIS hand on my life and HIS leading and supporting of me. The frank truth is that for many reasons going to church and dealing with church life is just too difficult and too painful.

That statement is a very sad indictment of the state of ‘the church’ that I, and many others like me who’ve survived horrific abuse, have not found real answers in ‘the church’ and been rejected and treated the same way.

It saddens me deeply to make such a statement but it is the truth as I have experienced it.

There are some good churches. I know of survivors who’ve had great experiences with churches and Christians, but sadly there are many more who haven’t.

This article is written to encourage those survivors whose experiences of ‘church’, ‘Christians’ and ‘Christianity’ have been negative, painful and in many cases downright abusive. I want you to know you are not alone although you may feel very isolated and misunderstood.

This article is also written to bring this painful subject out into the open because it needs to be. I mean no one any harm with this article. There is no malice in my writing. I write with immense sadness in my heart.

It deeply saddens me that many have given up on God because of their experiences because I know HIS love for you is undiminished and it grieves HIM even more than it grieves me or anyone else who’s been rejected by ‘the church and ‘Christians.’

I’ve written this article because I choose to bring this subject out into the open.

I’ve brought this subject into the open because I choose to speak the truth and to live in the truth.

The truth is the spiritual abuse I’ve experienced has damaged and confused me at very deep levels, and there are many other survivors around the world who have had similar experiences.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

My entire Autobiography is now published online on my autobiographical blog, "From Chrysalis to Beautiful Butterfly".

It is the true story of my life in 13 chapters.

It is in part a harrowing read but it is the TRUTH of the horror that was the first 20 years of my life.

I'm avoiding the word 'story' because although it is my life's story, the word 'story' gives an impression of something being made up.

I can assure you that I've not made any of it up. Instead I've so often wanted to change history and wished it wasn't true.

I've also deliberately underplayed the true horror.

I've tried to give enough detail so the reader has a clear picture of what truly happened while avoiding gratuitous details along the way.

My Autobiography tells of the abuse and torture I endured.

It tells of my struggles to cope and stay alive during the 24 years which have passed since being forcibly ejected from the family home and disowned.

It tells of my fight to get past religion and discover that God is very loving and accepting and is not a big man with a beard and a big stick ready to pounce on you and beat you when you step out of line.

It tells of my relationship with God, tentative at times, but also the strength of my life and the reason for me living.

It tells of God's love for me and of God's healing. It tells of God's encouragement and support which has kept me alive, given my life purpose and restored my dignity.

It tells of how God has given me the strength to stay alive and how HE gave me reasons to live. It tells of how God gave me the strength and courage to stop running from my past and begin to face the true horror I'd survived.

It also tells of how I came to expose my abusers to the police and what resulted from that.

It tells of devastation, betrayal, terrible acts of violation but also the restoration of hope through God's work in my heart.

It tells that it is possible to start over, however tentatively.

It tells that it is possible to begin to trust.

It tells that it is possible to face the truth without being consumed by the horror of it.

It tells of a life which was so nearly destroyed but now something beautiful is arising out of the ashes of the despair, depression and horror that has kept me imprisoned all these years.

It will bring you completely up to date with what's going on and what I'm trying to process at the moment. I've begun a 14th chapter, but that is in very early stages.

To read my autobiography please go to.

http://fromchrysalistobeautifulbutterfly.blogspot.com/

If anyone knows how to go about publishing a book without spending a lot of money I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

GRIEF AND ABUSE

When I began writing about my abuse and my healing journey I never thought I’d find myself writing about grief. Grief was not something I would hitherto have equated with childhood abuse.

But the events of the last few months have enabled me to rediscover the ability to cry which I lost very early on childhood. As that has happened I’ve come face to face with grief, deep grief, grief that goes way beyond words. The grief does not appear to be static, there seems to be several layers to it.

Initially my thoughts about grief were in relation to the context of grieving for the things I never had. I feel all my life that I've been silently bleeding away inside grieving for that childhood I never had. Grieving for that love and acceptance I never received. Grieving for all I never had as part of a "normal" childhood.

When I think of some of the things I could have had in a normal childhood:-
Play and exploring
Having fun
Having dreams and hopes
Being care free
Having friends
Home being a safe place
Warmth, love and acceptance
Validation
A family, belonging, fitting in
Being safe in my own bed
Someone to show me how to use makeup, affirm my femininity and take me shopping
Someone to teach me about money and how to budget
Having a future
The basic things of life such as being able to cook, including understanding nutrition and healthy eating; how to launder and repair clothes

Then there is also the grief over what did happen and what I lost as a result. I lost among other things:-
the ability to trust and form relationships
my childhood
my security
my innocence
my virginity and sexuality
my femininity
my dignity
my self worth
my ability to play and be creative
my identity
my family, belonging
the ability to be and to feel safe and secure
hopes and dreams

... and so many other things

Now I additionally have the grief of the legal case being dropped against my abusers too. This includes the grief of:-
Not having the opportunity to have my 6 hours of evidence - my voice – heard by 12 members of a jury
Having the prospect of the possibility of a “guilty verdict” being ripped away from me
Seeing my abusers stood up to and told in no uncertain terms that what they did was wrong
Losing the possibility of gaining justice for me the adult and for the little traumatised girl inside of me
Not seeing my abusers exposed
Having the prospect of ever being able to be compensated for the damage done to me and the financial losses I’ve incurred throughout my life because of the long term effects of the abuse and torture ripped away from me too by the dropping of the case
Yet another injustice to deal with along with all the other injustices I experienced through the abuse
More trauma and more betrayal to have to work through
The sheer unfairness of it all


Justice was not a lot to ask for! For the truth to come out was also not a lot to ask for! For my abusers to be exposed was not a lot to ask for!

After all I've gone through in life! After all I went through making that disclosure to the police. After all I went through in giving evidence for 6 long hours! That evidence will never be heard now and that hurts more than I can say.

There are no words for what I feel! There are no words that can comfort or offer any kind of explanation! All I am left with is total devastation, disillusionment and bewilderment!

My life has been completely torn apart by the dropping of the case and by how that news was broken to me. I really don’t know how I’m going to get over it.

Somehow I’m going to have to navigate my way through all this grief piled on grief. I'd never have thought of having to go through grieving processes in relation to abuse. But as I’ve explored it I’ve realised that it was good to look more closely at it.

Now as tears pour out of me after a lifetime of not crying, I realise some of the tears are that grief as well as tears of shock, bewilderment and disbelief. Many of my tears have been stored inside of me for 30, maybe 35 years. It’s easy to feel that once those tears are allowed to surface I will drown in them, for there are so many to come out.

But just as there are layers of grief, layers of anger, layers of remembering, so I should imagine there are layers of tears too.


14/10/10

Sunday, 10 October 2010

WOW, DID I REALLY WRITE THAT?

I wrote the following comment on the “Emerging from Broken” Blog. When I saw my words quoted by the blog author on their Facebook page and read afresh what I’d written I sat and thought “wow, did I really write that?”

I guess when you’re a writer you write stuff and sometimes don’t realise just what you’ve written and how powerful and impactful it was.

So I decided to quote myself here. Hopefully it will help me to realise that yes I did write that and that is how I really feel underneath all the gunk and trauma that’s going on.

"Now all these years later I'm telling and I'm coming alive inside, and it's an amazing feeling!! There is now hope inside of me instead of despair. There is now light inside me instead of blackness. Yes I'm glad I'm still here - and I never ever thought I'd ever say that!!"

I am very slowly gaining strength, hope and comfort and feeling less alone because of telling on my blog sites and also through being part of the “Emerging From Broken” blog commmunity. I am beginning to dream of one day walking out of the darkness into brighter days. Bright days when the sun isn’t chased away or hidden by the black clouds of my childhood.

KEY TO FREEDOM

I came across the following quote on Emerging From Broken’s Facebook page earlier. As soon as I read it I knew it was one to add to this blog. It is very powerful and the more I read it the more I realise just how powerful.

Maybe the more I read it, one day I will believe it for myself!



“The key to freedom is not in understanding why other people didn't take care of us, or why we were emotionally, physically or sexually abused; The key (well at least one key) is in understanding that we were powerless and that we are not who "they" say we are.”
Darlene Ouimet ~ Emerging from Broken

Saturday, 9 October 2010

REACTIONS

It’s been two weeks since the phone call that ripped my world apart, the cold clinical call which informed me the CPS had dropped the legal case against my abusers for, at best very tenuous reasons, at worst totally crap indefensible reasons.

During that time I’ve been in very deep shock. I’ve never known shock like it. I’ve never been so broken in my life. I’ve never known such bewilderment. I’m still shaking my head. I’m still finding it virtually impossible to take in. I feel like life will never be ok again.

In order to express my feelings of helplessness, anger and to get my story “out” I wrote and published the 5-part mini series in which I told the story of all that has happened during the last few months from deciding to disclose, right through the process to the case being dropped by the CPS. It was so liberating to finally be able to stop the secrets, stop guarding my words and just say it as it was, say it as it happened. It’s so liberating because the real me is naturally honest and transparent. Over the years I’ve hated having to watch what I say for fear of not being believed and of being thought of as crazy. I feel like I’ve been living a lie all these years and to now be able to speak freely is so wonderful, I struggle to find words for how good it feels.

Following publishing the mini series I had so many comments expressing shock and horror at what had happened along with comments about how strong, brave and dignified I’d shown myself to be and how inspired people are by me and by my honesty.

As word has spread I’ve been totally overwhelmed by messages of devastation, shock, disbelief, support, love, encouragement, validation and solidarity from across the world.


All my life I’ve felt so alone with the hurt and the secrets. I’ve been so physically alone ever since I was disowned. But now I’m realising I’m not alone. I’m realising I’ve been believed by many people, including the police and many professional people. Not only have I been believed by these people, but they also believe IN ME. So many of them have said to me “I can see and hear the survivor in you.”

On top of all that I’ve found out who my true safe friends are. I have several friends now who know the truth, fully believe me, are fully supportive and are believing in me to find my way through and out the other side of all this stuff.

Additionally I’m also discovering there were people in my childhood who knew I was being badly mistreated and who are fully supportive of me now. I do not blame them for not going to the authorities with their suspicions all those years ago. Society was very different in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

I’ve discovered that I spoke to the wrong people in the church when I was a child and tried to say things were wrong at home. All my life I’ve wondered if these people were taken in by my abusers’ lies and thought as badly about me as I assumed they did from the lies my abusers’ spoke about me when asked anything about me. Now I know they were not taken in by my abusers. Now I know they knew I was being mistreated. Now I know they have no problem believing all that has come out now. Finding that out so validated me. I felt 6-feet taller and that I could begin to hold my head high. Someone who’s known me for over 20 years has said many times to me “why do you walk around looking at the ground all the time?” Well now she knows!

But the TRUTH is I have nothing to be ashamed of or afraid of because I am speaking the truth. I am living in the truth. I am being believed. I am being believed in.

I realise too how deep the ‘bad’ belief system in me was. I was told repeatedly over 20 years that I was evil, worthless, bad, deserved everything I got, had nothing of any worth to say and should just be a good little girl, be quiet, be compliant, do as you’re told. I suppose when you’re told that often enough it becomes part of the fabric of who you are, how you think and how you filter all you experience. To be repeatedly told what people would think if I ever said anything completed the destruction of my self esteem and self worth. I now realise I carried those lies deep inside of me.

Even now I’m telling and despite being believed there is this little niggle inside waiting for people to not believe me and accuse me of making it up.

But by reminding myself how many people have believed me and are believing me, little by little it’s starting to help me believe healing is possible. It’s helping me start to believe there is a way through this. It’s helping me start to believe positives can come from telling now.

By disclosing I began a process which has liberated me to begin to build a new life, built upon strong foundations. Why? Well because the foundations are being built on truth, no more lies, no more secrets, no more pretending, no more bull, just the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH. And boy, it feels so good. Yes, it’s scary, yes it’s being vulnerable but hey I’d rather feel the fear and do it afraid than continue to exist, not even live, a life based upon the lies brainwashed into me by my abusers.

You’ve got no idea how good it feels to say no more lies, no more secrets, no more pretending, no more fearing being found out, no more guarding my words – just TRUTH from now on!!

I draw great strength, hope, validation and encouragement from all the messages and comments I’ve received during what have been the worst and hardest two weeks of my adult life. I know I will continue to do so over the coming weeks, months and years as I work on my healing.

I know there are dark days ahead, healing will not be easy or painless but nothing can be worse than what I've survived and worked through already. I dream that, some time in the future, I’ll wake up one day and realise I’ve stopped just existing, just surviving, just staying alive for the sake of just staying alive and have instead begun to live, to really live. I dream one day the sun will come out and stay out and not be chased away or hidden by the big black clouds of my childhood.


09/10/10

Helpful Quotations

I came across the following quotes on the Facebook page “Overcoming Sexual Abuse” today. They so helped, inspired and encouraged me that I decided to borrow them and quote them here without any further comment from me.

"Our parents plant mental and emotional seeds in us - seeds that grow as we do. In some families, these are seeds of love, respect, and independence. But in many others, they are seeds of fear, obligation, or guilt. As you grew into adulthood, these seeds grew into invisible weeds that invaded your life in ways you never dreamed of"
~ Toxic Parents by Susan Forward

“It is during childhood that humans acquire their first ideas about who they are and unfortunately, they believe these falsehoods for the rest of their lives. Victims are initiated into a pattern of abuse, including self abuse, not in adulthood, but in childhood. Every one of us comes into adulthood with a second-hand opinion of who we are"
~ Am I Bad? Dr. Heyward Ewart

“Abused children receive confusing messages about sex and love, trust and betrayal. The abuser often says “I’m doing this because I love you,” and then hurts the child. The child learns she can’t trust the people she loves, and that she doesn’t have a choice about being close to someone else"
~ Allies In Healing, Laura Davis

“The point of healing is to get through the pain, and on to other parts of life. But that process can’t be rushed or hurried. It’s essential that the survivor get the support they need for as long as they need it… it’s only by fully facing the pain and rage and terror that survivors become free to move on"
~ Allies In Healing, Laura Davis

“Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feeling are belittle or mocked, and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being abused - pain, outrage, hurt, vengeance, confusion, arousal. So she short-circuits and goes numb”
~ Allies In Healing, Laura Davis

“Sexual abuse causes children to feel devalued. If you are used by others and then tossed aside, your own needs unrecognized, what value could you possibly believe you have, aside from being an object? Because they were not valued, Survivors continue to neglect themselves just as they were neglected as children.”
~ The Right to Innocence, Beverly Engel

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I've Launched 2 new blogsites today

I've engaged my creative side today and launched two new blogsites.

The first blogsite is the debut for my Autobiography which I've been writing during the last few months.
You can find it at - http://fromchrysalistobeautifulbutterfly.blogspot.com

The second blogsite is my complete Anthology of Poetry, all written by me during the last 18 years - I decided my poetry deserved it's own site.
You can find it at - http://asurvivorspoeticjourney.blogspot.com

This blogsite will continue as is because it's about following the bigger picture of my life and my healing journey.

So, now I’m the proud owner of 3 blogsites!! They each serve a different purpose and will compliment each other.

When I engage my creative side it makes such a difference to how I feel and how I process stuff!

06/10/10

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Last Few Months, Part 5

This is the fifth part which concludes this little mini-series.

Just over a week ago on Friday 24th September 2010 I received a phone call which caused my world to collapse around me.

I was about to walk out my flat when I heard my phone ring. I paused and waited for my answer phone to click on. To my shock and horror I heard the voice of my investigating officer beginning to leave a message. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe she was leaving a message on my answer phone on a Friday afternoon about a decision that would change the course of my life in one of two directions. I could not believe someone could be so thoughtless and unfeeling as to do that knowing the weekend was coming up when my usual support networks would not be available. I listened in total disbelief.

Following my previous phone conversations with her I did not want to speak to her, but also knew I had to pick up and interrupt her because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with dealing with whatever she told me in the message or with having to phone her back. I hated picking up but I did. She got a shock when she heard my voice as I clicked into the call.

Her voice changed and she spoke to me in a cold hard clinical voice that held no compassion nor gave much permission for discussion. I heard her say “the CPS decided to take no further action against your parents and brother. Their key reason being it’s taken you so many years to come forward and make the allegations, but also because they don’t think there’s enough evidence - there is no evidence of child sexual abuse or child cruelty, it would be too hard to take to court.”

My entire body froze. I heard myself begin to stutter “how can they say there’s no evidence of child sexual abuse or child cruelty? What about this bit of evidence... and that bit of evidence... Oh and what about the person who testified I turned up at her house many times after beatings and she cleaned me up? Is that not strong enough evidence of child cruelty?

I heard the cold hard voice say “but you were 18, legally an adult when that happened. That is not evidence of child cruelty.”

I cut in “But it is evidence of continuity of abuse, whether or not I was an adult or a child at that time, it’s still evidence of assault. I cannot believe they’re not bringing any charges against them at all.”

She said “well that’s the decision.”

My final words to her were “this stinks!”

I heard that cold hard voice say “tough, it’s the final decision” and heard her put the phone down. The call lasted only 3 or 4 minutes.

I stood with the phone in my hand frozen, my mind jumbled. My whole body went cold and I began to shake. I couldn’t take in what I’d just heard. I scanned the phone, found the number for SARC but only got their answer phone. So I dialled the next number in my head which was my mental health worker. As she answered the call I began to sob down the phone. There was nothing to say, she just sat at the other end and listened for 20 minutes till I was able to tell her what had happened. She said “I need to put a care plan together for you. I’ll phone you back in a few minutes, why don’t you try SARC again in the meantime?” So I did, this time I got a support worker. As soon as I recognised her voice I started to sob again. I was being hit by waves of sobbing and shaking. In between those waves I managed to stutter out what had happened. She was wonderful and stayed on the phone with me for half an hour and calmed me down. I put the phone down to SARC and it instantly rang again. I heard the voice of my mental health worker saying “I’m concerned for your safety, can you get here? Let us help you. I’ve spoken to the Crisis Team, we’re going to put a care plan into place, I’ll see you in a few minutes.” She knew that earlier in the week I’d attempted suicide twice and she wanted me there for my safety.

As I walked out my flat I went to turn the key in the lock and suddenly thought of the rope I’d been thinking of hanging myself with. I had a sudden impulse to go back in, grab the rope, put it in my bag and take it with me so I acted on that impulse and did just that.

I had to walk about 20 minutes from my flat to get to the mental health offices. I was thankful of the reactions lenses in my glasses which hid my swollen bewildered eyes. I put my head down and blindly walked the route without thinking what I was doing, with no awareness of what was going on around me. I was focused on one thing and one thing alone - getting to the offices where I knew I’d be safe. On the way I blindly went to cross a road totally unaware of my surroundings and stepped right into the path of a car. That shook me a bit because it was a close call. If I’d been killed or injured people might have thought I’d stepped out deliberately given what had just occurred in my life, but actually it was purely accidental. The driver managed to brake in time.

I arrived safely and my worker took me into a room. We sat down and she said “you don’t have to speak to me if you don’t want to, this is a safe space, just let it all out”.

I sat there and said “now I’m here I feel like I’ve shut down, I can’t feel anything.” I thought “this is crazy I’ve been shaking and crying for the past hour but now I’m totally numb, what’s happening?”

Something made me get up and walk across the room with my back to her. I leaned against the wall and as I did I felt something break inside of me and I fell to my knees then found myself lying on the floor sobbing and sobbing. I lay on the floor in an undignified sobbing snotty mess for the best part of an hour. I’ve been through a lot but I’ve never been so broken by anything. My worker just sat there and said nothing. She let me cry till the tears came to a natural end, well at least long enough for a discussion of my care needs for the weekend.

I suddenly remembered the rope and said “I’ve bought something for you. I’ve brought the rope I was going to hang myself with. I don’t want to live but I don’t want to die either so here it is. I couldn’t go home and feel safe with it still in my flat.”

She took it from me, said she’d destroy it and went off to make me a coffee. She left me with that coffee for a few minutes while she called the Crisis Team. When she returned she said the person she spoke to at the Crisis Team was astounded at the statement I’d made when I handed over the rope and said “they were hearing my cry for help loud and clear”. She gave me a piece of paper. I looked at it and saw she’d written down a time. It was the time the Crisis Team had arranged with her to phone me at my flat that evening to arrange a home visit to assess me and determine what support I was going to need to make it safely through the weekend. She’d also written down the dates and times of the other appointments I had booked the following week along with a list of emergency phone numbers. I left the offices feeling heard, understood and supported. Somehow I knew I was gonna make it through.

I got home and expressed my anger by changing my Facebook status to “I think the CPS are heartless jerks”. It felt so good to say that knowing I could express my anger, disgust and helplessness without fear of disapproval or reprisals.

The help of the Crisis Team and the support of a good friend at the end of the phone 24/7 got me through the weekend. Friday night through to Monday morning I kept being hit by massive waves of shaking and sobbing. It was like I was in a huge surf and the waves were coming one after another and I couldn’t get my breath in between. I felt like I was drowning in tears. I was a totally shattered broken mess.

On Monday I was able to speak with my mental health support worker again. The care plan was for the Crisis Team to phone me each evening and I could phone them any time in between and I was booked to see my SARC worker on the Wednesday.

Wednesday morning found me with my SARC worker. As she sat down she said to me “I don’t know what to say, I cannot believe the outcome of this case.” That completely undid me and I sat crumpled in my chair for over an hour as the tears poured down my face and I tried to make sense of something that made no sense. She asked me “how have you survived the last few days?” I said “I don’t know, I just have, but then I’m good at surviving, that’s what I do, I survive, I make it through somehow, whatever happens.” I heard myself begin to talk about how I was thinking of changing my name; that a friend had given me some money so I can go and stay with friends for a couple of weeks in October to recover and that of course I have my Christmas holiday booked. My worker stopped me and gently said “you’re talking of the future without realising it, though you feel like your life has ended and you have no future, all these things are going happen in the future, you do have a future.” I looked at her and slowly realised she was right. She helped me see that I will get the other side of this though it doesn’t feel like that at the moment.

The journey I began when I picked up the phone and dialled that number in the paper has been incredibly liberating although arduous and downright agonising at times. It was such a very hard thing to do to go to the authorities and report them because I’d felt so helpless as a child and terrified about what would happen if I tried to speak out because of their threats. By reporting them I took back that control. It took so much guts and strength to do that.

I felt the dropping of the case totally disregarded how hard it had been to report my abusers. Now I found myself at the end of that process with nothing, no justice and no prospect of justice. No nothing! It hadn’t made the papers so they hadn’t been publicly found out.

By reporting my abusers I’d taken a huge risk. I didn’t know if I’d be believed or taken seriously but I had been. I’d gone through so much to speak out. I’d regained my long lost voice. I’d begun to assert myself. I’d been believed by those I told and had heard back that what was done to me was wrong and not my fault. Coming out in to the open had felt so right and so good. It had been TIME to do that and to do it FOR ME.

But then my voice was, in effect, stopped, silenced, by the dropping of the case, or that’s how it felt. My abusers had managed to do the unthinkable, something I hadn’t anticipated, expected or planned for --- by their lies and denials they wrestled back control and silenced my voice one final time. I fully expected that once I took back that power it would never be taken away from me again. But it felt for one last time they had the last word and stuck two fingers up at me just for good measure.

There are no words for how I feel. There are no words that can make any difference to how I feel. There are no words that will make me feel better. There are just no words!

I do not understand how a God of justice who hates injustice could allow such a miscarriage of justice. It’s so hard I cannot get my head round it. I cannot understand why it didn’t happen. I’m having real trouble trying to believe they wouldn’t take the case to court. I’m having a real hard time accepting the decision. I’m having a hard time trying to see God in all of this. But yet I know HE is there in it all.

The hardest thing is having to somehow accept I’ll never be able to get justice for me the adult but also, more importantly, for the little girl inside of me who so DESPERATELY wanted the world to know what they’d done to her and what they were REALLY like. She is inconsolable but I cannot connect with her because I cannot explain it, I don’t understand it, I’m still in shock, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. I cannot tell her everything’s gonna be ok because I don’t feel or believe life will ever be ok again.

But then I’m in the middle of it all and I suppose that when you’re in deep shock it really isn't the time to try to understand. I cannot even accept it. I've been through a lot in my life but I've never been so broken.

One of my favourite quotes is “when life gives you lemons come up with orange juice so everyone will wonder how the heck you did that?” Well, I guess I'm going to have to come up with some amazing orange juice in the weeks, months and years to come and I guess throughout the rest of my life. Somehow!!

Every single person I've had contact with in the Crisis Team has said to me “I see/hear the survivor in you/in your voice but I also hear that wobble”. Each worker has said “given what you've just gone through you're doing amazingly well, you wouldn't be human to not need help and support”. When they say that, I know that they’re seeing the strength of Jesus inside this very shattered, broken human being.

At least now I can begin therapy, which I couldn’t while the court case was pending. I can now begin the long road back to healing.

I hope one day to get the dates 27th Oct, 1st Nov and 14th May out of my memory. They’re the birthdays for my ex father, ex brother and ex mother, in that order. Birthdays were big events in our twisted family. On those days a special trip or event was always planned. We played a game of happy families in public but on these days, during family holidays and other important days in the year such as Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day it was a much bigger game we played. A huge fuss was made about the day, everything had to be just so. We'd do whatever we did as a family, pretend to the world and to each other we were a normal happy family doing normal happy family things. Once the day was over it would be decided I’d not smiled broadly enough or showed enough enthusiasm or so on. The beatings and torture that always ended those days were terrible. I could never do anything right, in their eyes, even on those days when I tried hard with every fibre of my being to do and be all I was required to.

Christmas in particular was very cruel. We'd go to church as a happy family, come back, eat lunch as a happy family then I'd be beaten up and sent out the house to walk the streets. I wandered the streets looking in to lighted happy scenes in other people's houses feeling so left out and alone, wondering why I had to live such a horrible life. What was so bad about me? That’s why I go away at Christmas now and create happy memories for myself of that time of year. That’s also why every January I tend to be poorly or generally low physically as well as mentally and emotionally. My Christmas holidays take a lot out of me because although I have amazing times now it’s still immensely traumatic making it through those days.

I sent my ex mother, ex father and ex brother a final letter on Thursday. They each got a letter personally written to them appealing with them to deal with their evil deeds and repent while they are alive. Not because I want any reconciliation or admission of fault, guilt or even an apology. I do not want any of those things. In fact I never want to see or hear from them ever again. I did it because I had to do it for ME, for CLOSURE, to LET GO of them and to do it in a way that was not vengeful and angry. I had to do it in a way that I could live with. I had to do it in a way that honoured God's heart for them. The letter gave them one final chance to consider their deeds and face the truth. Their eternal destiny is in their own hands. They cannot say they weren’t given the chance. At the end of the day we all have to live with our own consciences. I do not know how they live with their consciences. I’ve let go of them now, they will never hear from me again.

It was a necessary step in my journey which formally closed the door on them. That is why I’m now calling them 'ex'. They never were parents to me and my brother was a merciless bully to me. I’ve also let go of the hope I doggedly held on to that one day they’d apologise, one day they’d admit some guilt. That will never happen now. I have to walk away and start over somehow.

I guess my first step in starting over is changing my name. It is also the final part of breaking ties with that toxic family. I’m doing it for my personal safety because they threatened that if I ever spoke out “they’d hunt me down, they’d find me and kill me.” I know I’ll be looking over my shoulder until the day I legally become “Fi MacLeod”.

I'm also doing it for many really positive reasons.

Why Fi? Well at the moment Fi is the shortened form of my real name Fiona and I want to be legally ‘Fi’. I’ve never liked my first name Helen and want rid of that too.

Why MacLeod? Because my Scottish heritage is massively important to me. It’s always been an important part of my identity. I’m choosing to maintain that through my new name. I’m also maintaining the clan heritage by choosing a clan which is part of the chain of clans which eventually led to the Nicholson clan, but which is also far enough back to not be obvious.

I think “Fi MacLeod” has a lovely ring to it!! I cannot legally become “Fi MacLeod” until January because of Christmas holiday arrangements and the lack of time to get my passport reissued in my new name. But I’ve decided to informally begin using the name to get people used to it before I drop my birth surname of Nicholson for good.

I'm looking forward to becoming “Fi MacLeod” and starting over, re-establishing my life based in truth, living by my rules, choosing the people I want in my life. People I consider to be safe life affirming people. It’s a fresh start with a fresh name that I’ve chosen. With the right help and support I hope one day I’ll be able to live, to really live, without my abuse filling every waking moment and every sleeping moment. It will always be part of my history and will always inform how I relate to the world around me but I hope one day it will be a positive force in life rather than destructive.

There is one thing for sure, I have found my voice and I’m gonna use it and I’ll never be silenced again!

Hey, time to go make some orange juice I think!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Last Few Months, Part 4

On Tuesday 12th July 2010 my abusers were arrested and questioned by the police.

I was not prepared for how I was going to react to that news. Their arrest was a huge wobble moment for me. On the one hand it was wonderful to know they’d been told of the allegations, arrested and taken to the local police station for questioning. It was phenomenally wonderful to think they’d now be forced to face up to the truth. On the other hand there was a part of me that was scared stiff about what they may say. I was terrified the police would be taken in by their lies, denials and charming front. Although part of me knew they’d try to lie and deny their way through it, there was part of me that thought the shock of being arrested would shake them out of their denial.

Instead to my immense shock they lied, denied and play acted throughout the police interviews and no confessions happened. I was not prepared for that scenario.

That completely shattered me. Up until that point I’d been carefully controlled in my sessions, my emotions were kept in check, if tears began I swallowed them back down. There was no way I was crying in front of any of my support workers.

As a child I learned from a very early age that tears were ‘bad’. Bad things happened if I cried. If I cried when they beat, raped and tortured me they made it hurt even more. If I showed any response to what they were doing to me they deliberately made it worse. My abusers taught me that emotions were bad – whatever the emotion may be, it was bad to have emotions and unacceptable to express them in any way. If I cried, got frustrated or angry, for example, I was mocked and put down.

So it is a very rare, almost unheard of event for me to cry. Some friends who’ve known me for 20 or 25 years have never seen me cry or known me cry because I’ve been so shut off from my emotions.

But the day I faced the news of my abusers’ denials with my SARC worker changed all that. Within five minutes of me entering the room my false smile was gone, my composure completely collapsed and I cried and cried and cried, it was like a dam burst.

I’d always believed my father to be weak and to have a conscience. I knew my mother and brother would deny and lie their way through it but I always believed my father would crack and spill the beans and implicate everyone.

The shock of the realisation that something completely different had happened was too much to bear. It felt like a total betrayal. I realised that day I was going to have a fight on my hands if I was going to get justice. It was not going to be as straight forward as I thought it might be. I really thought he’d crack under questioning but he just denied everything.

As I considered what had happened I realised that probably no confessions were made because, let’s face it my mother is a formidable woman and everyone is scared of her. My father was probably too terrified of her to do anything else but lie. My brother is in as deep a state of denial and hiding behind religion as my mother. For all I know they may even have made a pact years ago that if this ever tried to come out they would just blanket deny everything.

They probably thought “we’ll just deny it all, they’ll realise she’s just a silly little trouble maker and it’ll just go away as if it never happened.”

Everything was silently screaming out of me to the police and CPS “please do not drop the case; please don’t be taken in by their lies and denials; don’t let them get away with their lies and denials; please don’t do that to me.

The investigating officer told me my abusers were “very angry to be visited by the police and to have such allegations made against them, they loudly pronounced their innocence and said the allegations were totally unfounded.”

I found that piece of information very hard to take in. I would have been far better off not hearing it.

My abusers’ denials meant they were released on unconditional bail for a month and the case referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether to prosecute and if so, what they were to be charged with. How different things would have been if the police could have obtained a confession. But, in the event, they were unable to break any of my abusers down under questioning.

Raw pain poured out of me that day. My worker talked me through the pain and sense of betrayal the denials had caused me to feel. My SARC worker’s acceptance of my tears helped me accept them a little although I felt very awkward and didn’t know what to do with myself. But all I could do was cry that day.

It was the beginning of me being able to begin to cry. It’s not been an easy journey learning to cry. Many times I’ve gone back to the old shutting down, swallowing them back down way of coping, even when sitting alone at home. I’d cried that day in front of my SARC support worker and it had been safe. She did not mock my tears but worked with them. Even though that had happened I had future sessions when I swallowed the tears down rather than let her see them. It took me several weeks to realise it was totally safe to cry in front of my support workers.

The release of my abusers on unconditional bail was the beginning of a long agonising wait for the decision.

It was also the beginning of me fearing for my safety. My abusers told me that if I ever told “they’d hunt me down, find me and kill me.” It doesn’t matter how many times I was told by the police “but they don’t know where you are”. They know the town I live in, and it is a small town. My abusers threats were very real and had kept me silent for so many years, now I was facing that fear head on.

I allowed myself to begin to dream of obtaining justice for myself and for the little girl inside of me who’d been so brave in breaking her silence and beginning to tell. It was such a horrific case that neither I, nor my witnesses, could see any other outcome but it going to court. The police officer who did the interviews with me was convinced it was going all the way to court and had spoken to me about the tactics a defence lawyer might try to use and how strong I was going to have to be to go through the trial. She also said "how much she was looking forward to going up to Cumbria for a couple of days to give evidence at my trial."

It was all looking and sounding really positive. I knew the truth was that it was a truly horrific case.

Such was the level of the brutality I experienced at the hands of my abusers that as far as I’m concerned the names of my abusers belong in the same notorious company as Ian Brady, Myra Hindley, Fred + Rose West and other well known convicted child abusers and child killers.

I could not believe it would not go to trial. I could not believe I wouldn’t get justice because of the harrowing nature of my evidence.

One week before my abusers’ bail was due to end I received a phone call. I thought I was about to be told that the case was either being dropped to being taken to trial. Instead I was told that bail was being extended from early July to the end of September to give the CPS time to trawl through all the evidence and seriously consider it. I was not prepared for that scenario and it threw me a little but I was greatly encouraged by that development.

During that phone call the investigating officer said to me “they [i.e. my abusers] won’t be happy”. I replied “So what? What has their happiness got to do with any of this? They did not consider my happiness when they were torturing and abusing me. Why should I or you care about their happiness?

I was incensed at that comment to be honest, it was totally unhelpful and I really did not need to hear that from the investigating officer. She had nothing to say in response to that and I ended the call at that point.

I wondered again about what was really going on and just how much she’d been taken in by them.

However with the bail extension I began to think I was going to get the outcome I so desired and needed. For the CPS to request a bail extension and spend so long considering the case there must be something really compelling about it.

I thought my abusers would have been thinking the initial bail date would come and the allegations dropped because of their lies and denials and the whole thing would just go away. I also thought that when their bail was extended it would be a huge shock to them and they’d start to realise they were in bigger trouble than they originally thought.

After my abusers’ bail was extended people in the town where they live witnessed them completely alter their behaviour. They stopped all their charity work and stopped going to church citing serious illness as the reason; more evidence of the deliberate devious accomplished liars they really are. They were witnessed dumping stuff at a local tip which was very suspicious. It bore out all my gut instincts of how they’d respond to the bail extension. It showed me and those who witnessed their activities that they knew they were in trouble and thought they could be going down for it. Regardless of whether they choose to live in denial they know the truth as much as I do. They know they did terrible things just as I do.

I tried to speak to the investigating officer about what was going on. She was very dismissive towards me and told me I was being "unhelpful and silly and no way would my abusers do anything like that". She would not accept that I was the expert and knew them far better than she did. Suddenly she was the expert on my abusers and not me. I began to suspect all the more that she’d lost her objectivity and been taken in by them to some degree.

I asked why the house had never been searched or forensically examined. She said "stop being silly, there wouldn’t be any evidence in the house after all these years". I thought that was very short sighted knowing of many historic cases where properties have been searched and forensically examined 30, 40 or more years later and yielded valuable evidence.

She said “they’d have gotten rid of any evidence 25 years ago when they kicked you out and disowned you.”

I said “No, not necessarily, that is a flawed assumption to make, my abusers thought they had my silence for life, they never imagined I’d ever speak out, when they discovered I’d told they imagined that if they lied and denied it, it would go away, but now they realise there is more to it than that and it is entirely plausible that they could be using the extra bail time to dump/destroy evidence. I know how devious and cunning they really are, and that is should at least be noted down.”

I was told this was “really unhelpful and I was being very silly”. I wondered yet again what was really going on with my case. She told me to relax, forget all about it and be patient which was extremely patronising at the very least. As far as she was concerned there was more than enough evidence before the CPS and they didn’t have to go looking for any more.

I felt like I was a little pest who had nothing useful to say or of value to add. She again told me to “stop being silly, my parents had a right to get on with their life legitimately while on bail.”

I felt my abusers had more rights than me the ‘victim’ in the case. She also totally missed the point that there is a difference between legitimate behaviour and suspicious behaviour.

To be told my parents could just get on with their lives while I could not get on with my life until I received the prosecution decision was extremely painful and condescending.

When I was a child and tried to tell people all was not as it seemed at home with my parents I was told to “stop being silly, no way would they possibly do anything like that, they are upstanding members of the church and pillars of the community, don’t speak ill about your parents, respect them.“

Some of the same words the investigating officer used when I tried to report my concerns about their suspicious behaviour - “Stop being silly, no way would they possibly do anything like that”.

To be honest I lost respect for the investigating officer after being spoken to in that manner.

The attitude and tone of that call triggered me right back into the tiny frightened child who was told in no uncertain terms many times that she was silly, unimportant and had nothing of any importance or relevance to say and had no value so should just keep quiet and go away.

The intensity of the pain I was triggered into ratcheted up my suicide risk to a very high level and at that point I was referred to the mental health crisis team for my own safety. I wanted to commit suicide despite my strong will to survive and stay alive. I was also seriously self-harming. Somehow I got through that very difficult, wobbly, painful week before receiving the final CPS decision on the case.

The obvious changes in my abusers’ behaviour did not go unnoticed in the small town of Whitehaven. People have been asking questions about “what is really going on with the Nicholson’s?” In response people are beginning to be told by those in the know that they were arrested, questioned over serious child abuse allegations concerning their daughter and were on bail while the investigation continued. It was good for me to begin to realise the truth was coming out which helped me cope with the final CPS decision.

I will discuss that decision, its implications and affect upon me in the final part of this story.