Guest List: I Was Abused as A Child


unnamed-1Even typing the title of this list made me feel sick and sad and angry. How anyone can hurt a child is beyond me. Then the fact that that child has to live with the experience for the rest of their lives breaks my heart.

This writer wishes to remain anonymous, but I am blown away by her bravery for sharing this:

  • I was abused when I was 8 and a half. Writing these words (at 30) still send my body into unavoidable panic – palms sweating, my heart beating out my chest, tears running down my face. I’m back there in an instant, unable to escape.

  • He was a family friend, I use the term loosely, but my parents (who are sensible people) trusted him and his wife to look after me one evening whilst they went out on a rare date night.

  • I woke up to find him in my bed, he raped me. It felt like I was going to die as he held my mouth shut. I’ll spare you the details, they are not important. I couldn’t have screamed anyway, I was paralysed, overcome with pure terror like nothing I had ever felt or (thankfully) have felt since.

  • He told me it was my fault and that my parents would be ‘livid’ with me if they found out.

  • I believed him.

  • Yes, I can hardly comprehend that now, but I wholeheartedly believed him and I kept quiet. To this day only a handful of people in my life know that this happened to me.

  • This is stuff that happens to ‘other’ people right? That live in dysfunctional families, who have dysfunctional lives.

  • NOT true – it happened to me. I’m from a middle class family, with two loving parents, an only child, their only focus, who went to private school, who they worked every evening and weekend to give me everything they possibly could. I was an intelligent child, the child that would have spoken out if this had happened to her…

  • I realised, by the time I was 11 or 12, the gravity of what had happened to me – that is was wrong, illegal, awful, but in my head it was too late – who would believe me now after 3 and a half years? Everyone would think I was making it up, attention seeking? Maybe it didn’t happen like I remembered it? Maybe I did do something to provoke him? I still didn’t tell anyone.

  • I shut it out, I locked it up, it was the only way I could be normal – I kept myself busy. So busy, I could never ever not be doing something – I played all the sports, I revised incessantly for my exams, I got a part time job. I became obsessive about filling my time – every spot in my diary would need an entry, otherwise the panic would set in.

  • The alone time was the time I couldn’t cope, when I went to bits, when I felt like I couldn’t carry on when I experienced panic attacks so real I felt like I wanted to jump out the window to get away. I suffered from dreadful insomnia all through my teens and night terrors when I would wake the whole house up screaming. I still didn’t tell anyone.

  • I started worrying about other children and my responsibility towards them, it would be my fault if he had done this to someone other than me. I could have stopped him, I could still stop him if I just spoke up. I still didn’t speak up.

  • I avoided boyfriends, I was too busy studying or working or training to have a boyfriend. I turned down date after date – all the boys thought I was a dick, I always remember being at a party and one guy saying ‘you’re so up yourself, you think you’re too good for everyone.’ I wondered if I would ever be able to have a normal relationship.

  • I went to Uni, it felt like a new start, away from my home where it happened.

  • The same year I heard the man in question had died. I was so angry at myself he’d got away with it, he would never have to face up to what he did, never be exposed for what he was. But I also felt an enormous sense of relief that a part of this was now gone forever.

  • I met my husband, we dated on and off for a few months and one night I woke him with one of my night terrors, screaming the place down. I told him, everything. I was 21.

  • I didn’t stop crying for 4 days afterwards, it was a huge burden that I had been carrying around all those years that suddenly seemed so much lighter but it also brought every feeling that I had buried flooding back. 

  • I booked in for counselling, I saw her for 5 years (I still see her occasionally now), it helped, a lot.

  • I still haven’t told my parents, they would be heartbroken and they would never forgive themselves. There’s no good for any of us that would come of it, it wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t mine. unnamed

  • So how am I now?

  • On the surface I’m great – I have an lovely husband, a wonderful child, a great job. I’m that person who you think has landed on her feet (and don’t get me wrong, I have, in lots of ways).

  • Underneath it all – overall, I’m still pretty good, I have some dreadful days but I learn each time how to cope better with the downs and sometimes just accept that feeling and know that it will pass. I still suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, I think I always will, but I know my triggers and I try to avoid them. 

  • Finally…why did I feel like I should write this list?

  • I haven’t written this list to scare anyone, the likelihood of this happening to your child is very low. However I wanted this to remind everyone not to get into a ‘this wouldn’t happen to us’ mindset, because I’m proof that it can.

  • Please talk to your children, you don’t need to be specific, but just for them to know what is right and wrong and that you will always be on their side no matter what. I know there are some really good guidelines on how to have helpful (not frightening) conversations with children.

  • To remind us all (me included) to be kind to people. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle you’re not aware of. Even the people that seem to have their shit together all the time, really don’t.

  • For people who have experienced something similar to know that 1. it really wasn’t your fault 2. talk to someone, it really helps 3. Know that you will feel better, even if you feel like that is impossible right now.o-MOTHER-DAUGHTER-HOLDING-HANDS-facebook

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  • Reply Jenny November 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

    ❤️❤️❤️thank you for sharing and Clemmie, thanks for creating this space for people to share real life. We all need the support of each other. Xxx

  • Reply Kathryn November 26, 2017 at 7:46 am

    As I read this my 8.5 year old daughter is sleeping peacefully in the room next door, your story really hit home. Perhaps I am have been guilty of ‘if wouldn’t happen to us’, probably because the thought is too much to comprehend. From now I’ll be making sure my children know that they can tell me everything and I will always be on their side. Thank you for being so brave xxx

  • Reply Annon November 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

    This hits home far too hard for me also as an only child brought up in an incredibly loving home a family member who babysat did things a 17+ boy should never do to a 4 5 6 year old little girl only 2 people in my life know I am too scared to shatter my loving family with the trouth of my cousin and the evil “games” he would play
    I’m ok I live my life happy and normal with a wonderful husband but I will only leave my daughter with my mum I struggle to trust anyone with my most precious thing in the world.
    Thank you for sharing — it took a lot for me to read it x

  • Reply Anon November 26, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    I too was abused by two “family friends”
    On separate occasions and I was only 6 and 8 when these incidents happened.
    I went off the rails in my teens and early 20’s as I tried to cope with that and many other things. I was sent to a counsellor and she knew after 1 meeting what had happened and she just said to me what happened to you when you were little! I’ve since found out my brother was also abused by the older boy and it breaks my heart to think how many other children suffered.
    I’ve often wanted to tell my parents As they always said I was a nightmare teenager, but there were reasons why. I’m not sure it would do any good though?
    I don’t trust anyone to look after my kids other than my mum and my brother, but rarely leave them anyway. I’m always so fearful someone will hurt them when I am not around and don’t like them going on many play dates. I don’t like them not being with me (apart form School of course) the fear never leaves and I try and tech them about privacy of the pant area, that it’s ok to say no even to an adult if they feel uncomfortable, that secrets are to share with mummy and daddy even if someone said they would hurt them if they told us.
    I thanks you for sharing your story, it’s not easy and I hope youve found happiness and some way of coping with what happened x x

  • Reply Now That’s What I Call A List 2017 – Mother of all Lists December 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm


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