During my first formal police interview I was blown away by the amount of detail that was actually in my memory banks. I was able to recall far more detail than I realised was there. But telling the detail for the first time was very traumatising too. There were several times during the interview when I physically shook. A couple of times I had to stop the interview and take a break because I was so badly spaced out I thought I was going to pass out on the floor.
Unfortunately the interview precipitated me into deep trauma and shock. It took about two months for me to come out of that place of deep dark wobbly trauma into a better place. With Easter immediately following there was a delay in SARC [Sexual Assault Referral Centre] contacting me following the police referral. It was two weeks until I had an appointment. That couple of weeks was incredibly hard dealing with the trauma and hearing nothing from the police. I began to wonder if the police had decided not to investigate the allegations after all.
I remember going to my first appointment with the SARC worker not knowing what to expect and feeling very dubious about it all. What I found was a very compassionate caring woman who fully believed me from the outset and who treated me with incredible respect. I was very fragile in deep trauma when I first met her and to find such belief, respect and compassion was very validating.
Remembering is an interesting process. There are some aspects of the abuse and torture I’ve always remembered vividly. Other aspects of it have only been just faint impressions in my mind. Following the first police interview I started having flashbacks and nightmares. Some were memories I’d always had, but increasingly new memories came pouring out through flashbacks and nightmares which added to the trauma. All I knew for several weeks was trauma heaped on trauma with many panic attacks. I realised the police interview had given permission for some repressed memories to make themselves known.
I began seeing my SARC worker once a week but was struggling to trust and found it very hard to open up to her. I guess I was testing her out and vividly remember at some stage during my 4th session thinking “this woman is safe”. It was another 2 sessions before I actually began to feel safe with her. That “feeling safe” coincided with stabilising from the deep trauma that followed the police interview. That “feeling safe” also seemed to be a cue to disassociate. I spent many of our sessions working hard to stay in the room with her but didn’t understand what was happening, just that I was drifting in and out, spacing out and wondering what on earth was happening.
Early in May I was informed that the police wanted me to do a second formal interview. There was a part of me that was massively relieved to get a second chance and was determined to make the most of it. But knowing what I was facing was really scary too so there was a part of me that was terrified at having to go back and face revealing yet more detail and yet more horror. There was another part of me that was reassured knowing what I was facing meant there were less unknowns about doing a second interview. It was a very bizarre combination of emotions and mental processing.
There was a gap of eight weeks between the first and second police interview. During those eight weeks I’d slowly begun to realise nothing bad was going to happen to me for telling. Actually only good stuff had happened as a result of telling. Telling had had positive results. It led to me being supported. Most importantly I’d been believed too.
That challenged the lies my abusers had brainwashed me with. I was threatened many times that if I ever told, whoever I told would think I was a dirty little whore, a silly little troublemaker, a nasty little liar, and dire things would happen to me if I ever told. Those threats and lies had kept me silent for so many years. But having gone through the first interview and then worked with my SARC worker for a few weeks those lies were being challenged. The child within me began to think “well if they [my abusers] were wrong about that, then what else were they wrong about?”
All these things enabled me to face my second formal interview on Tuesday 25th May 2010 with confidence and boldness. I didn’t hold back during that harrowing three hours and shared stuff I never ever thought I’d find words for. Many times I shook as I relived events as well as recalling them. I was very nauseous throughout the interview as the horror and shame poured out of me. I remember feeling totally covered in the shame and grime of the terrible acts pouring out of my memory. The police officer who interviewed me said not only could she see the horror in my eyes and hear it in my voice but it was visible in my entire body. I remember saying I was trying very hard to find words for things I had no words for as a child.
I also remember saying towards the end of the interview that I was still recovering memories. I said I was in a live process and that what I’d shared in that second interview was not the end of my story but there was more. I had a sense that the evidence I’d given and the memories I’d recovered were mild compared with what was to come and I was very right about that. In the 4 months following that interview I’ve remembered events which are so horrific I have no vocabulary for them.
That interview precipitated me into a different place of trauma. It was a place where I began to self harm to express the agony I was feeling inside. I can cope with physical pain. I have a very high pain level which I developed at a very tiny age. But I could not cope with the emotional pain and it found expression through self harming.
I remember soon after the second formal interview turning up for an appointment with my SARC worker having slashed my arms the night before. I expected to be met with disgust – I expected to be met with anger – I expected the worst because that was what I was conditioned by my abusers to expect when I did something ‘bad’. I was feeling so ashamed and bewildered by what I’d done as well. I expected her to show me the door. Instead I was met with the most incredible gentleness and compassion.
The good thing to come out of that was I realised she accepted me as I was and wasn’t going to reject me when I did something I perceived to be ‘bad’. That was a turning point for me. I was able to trust her on a far deeper level than I had up until then.
Another good thing to come out of it was she contacted the community mental health team in my locality. Four weeks after the second formal police interview I found myself in an appointment with a worker there. I turned up to that appointment feeling sceptical about having to start with someone new but again found myself being fully believed from the outset.
Being believed has been such a big thing for me. It was a recurring theme throughout my two police interviews and continued to emerge week in week out as I realised I was being believed and taken seriously. Not only was I being believed as an abuse survivor but I was also being believed in as a person. That was so incredibly powerful.
At the beginning of June my case was put on indefinite hold following a horrific mass shooting in my hometown. Mass shootings are very rare events in the UK where we have very strict gun laws. It was so shocking and incredibly hard to process that someone went crazy with two guns in my hometown. It was beyond belief and my sense of shock was profound. Additionally the aftermath of that event meant my investigating officer was put taken off my case to support families of victims affected by it. It was so hard to have my case put on indefinite hold because of that senseless shooting.
I was so angry with the man who went crazy with guns that day and then killed himself when cornered by the police. I felt immensely angry that my case was put on hold. I felt so helpless and pushed to one side. The police were on the brink of arresting my abusers when the mass shooting happened. The two weeks following that news were very hard to get through. I was desperate for someone to prioritise my case because it had been so hard for me to disclose to the police in the first place and because I’d been so close to my abusers being arrested. But I survived that time and received a call just over two weeks later saying my investigator was back on my case.
Over the next 3 months I met with both my SARC worker and my mental health worker every week. Although some of the work overlapped, I worked very differently with each worker and was able to discuss mental health issues with one worker while discussing and developing coping strategies with my SARC worker. They complemented each other and helped pull me through having my case put on hold and then the lengthy investigative process. I would not have made it through without them.
I thought my experience with the SARC worker would help me deal easier with establishing a relationship with the mental health worker. Instead I found it even harder to establish trust and open up. I just kept turning up to my appointments and gradually realised she believed me and I could trust her, but it was a long hard process to establish trust and be able to work honestly with her.
In July when my mental health worker had leave booked she referred me to another very experienced worker who I instantly clicked with and instantly trusted, which was really bizarre. I don’t instantly trust! But there was something about her that made me feel instantly safe with her. Again I found myself being fully believed and taken seriously as an abuse survivor and as a person. I realised that trusting is not a black and white issue.
One of the affects of the abuse was that I do not trust. It completely took away my ability to trust. But through meeting these professional women, being believed and taken seriously I was discovering I could trust after all. I realised that trust occurs at many levels and is not set in stone but is a process. Throughout the weeks of working with my SARC worker and the mental health worker I had sessions when I was able to trust but then other sessions when I could not trust and tested out and disassociated instead.
The temporary stand in worker quickly realised I was very visual and creative and offered to do a clay session with me. During the clay session I used clay to create figures of my abusers and recreated a scene of abuse I’d always had vivid memories of. After doing that I was free to smash them all up with a rolling pin. That connected me with the deep anger and rage I knew was inside me. That fear had terrified me and I’d always been afraid of getting in touch with it. But within that safe controlled environment I released immense anger and rage. The clay session achieved something which could have taken many months of talking therapy. Wow, the work I did during that session was incredible. The effect upon me and how I process anger because of it has been profound.
It was just as well that I did that piece of work because something was about to happen that would seriously rock my world. I will discuss that in part four.
I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. This blog has helped me get my voice back and documents the journey I'm on to heal from the trauma and damage caused by that appalling abuse. Now is the time for me to tell of MY experience 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 repaired. Without God in my life I wouldn't still be here. But somehow, I keep on staying alive, surviving and rarely, occasionally, living a little!