- One million children are abused in some way each year, 50% of those abused (now adults) never reported the abuse.
- In 67% of cases the abuse started before the age of 11years.
- In 50% of cases the abuse lasted 2-18 years.
|Aged about 10 years old, photo taken by my abuser|
My sexual abuse started when I was 8 years old and went on for the next 5 years. It was only disclosed to my own family and the perpetrator was never prosecuted.
|My abuser, photo taken by me at Beachy Head|
The person who abused me was a senior civil servant, my father’s supervisor, highly regarded in the literary world, public school educated, wealthy; a “model” of respectability.
The results of the abuse took many forms;
Education and Leaving School
I went from being in many top sets at school to almost complete truancy, many of my teachers didn’t even recognise me when I occasionally “popped in” for a look around to see what was going on. The result was I left school with one “O” level in Art and that was only because I turned up for the exam and knocked out a drawing on the day.
The ’80’s in the UK was a time of high unemployment, and with no real qualifications I simply went on the dole for the next 2 years while I battled my declining mental health.
My mental health problems started during the abuse.
The deepening anxiety meant I began to develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) around 9 years of age and this progressed throughout my teens and early twenties, sometimes it would take me 2-3 hours to get outside the door after checking and rechecking every door, window, gas tap and light switch numerous times. One thing that many people who do not suffer from OCD don’t appreciate is, that it is not just the physical rituals that are debilitating, you also have ruminations and mental rituals which are just as crippling; reciting number sequences or going over and over what you have done and trying to remember every sequence of a day, absolutely convinced you have done something terribly wrong or forgotten something of major importance.
The depression began when I was in my mid teens and at 16, I finally summoned enough courage to seek professional help and went to see my GP. I remember very clearly being petrified about talking about what had happened and fearing not being believed. With a dry mouth, I opened up to my doctor, who listened for about a minute and then told me;
“Pull your socks up and get on with your life, all this happened to you in your childhood and you should be over it by now”.
At that moment everything the abuser had told me came true. He had said that no one would listen or believe me and that I was making too much of it. If he was right about that, then logic told me he was right about all the rest; I had deserved the abuse and it was my fault. The reason my abuser gave me for the abuse was that I was “too nice”, “too innocent” and “too trusting”, he had done it for my own good, to help me become more worldly.
The depression continued to worsen and at 18 I was put under a psychiatrist for depression and anxiety. This professional was supposed to be very good and highly competent, she asked me was there anything I needed to tell her, I explained about the abuse in a very quick and off hand way.
She asked me, “Do you think it has affected you?”
“No” I replied, testing her to see if she would challenge me and not allow me to get away with it.
“Then just forget about it” was her response.
Shortly after I took an overdose.
When she came to see me in hospital, she was very surprised, “What are you doing here, I thought you were doing really well”, she said. I stopped seeing her soon after and found an alternative way to deal with the effects of the abuse.
The next blog, will look at my drinking and drug addiction.