My name is Paula, I am a 36 year old support worker and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse – it feels a bit like AA saying that but there it is, that is what I am, it doesn’t define me but it is a fact.
In 2006 I found out that the perpetrator of my abuse was foster caring. I didn’t feel I could just leave it any more so I contacted Social Services and my story begins…
I was volunteering for victim support at the time and at one of our monthly meetings two lovely ladies, Hazel and Liz, came to tell us about an idea that they had. They wanted to start a self help group and had come to ask if anyone wanted to help. I waited until the end of their talk and disclosed my status. They were very discreet and contacted me later and I attended their day group as a survivor.
At this time my case went to court, it lasted about a week and was very traumatic for me and my family. I didn’t expect the upheaval that happened and needed a lot of support.
The day group helped me by being a place I could talk about it safely and without judgement, they believed me without question, listened when I wanted to talk and were nice to me when I was too upset.
Very soon after that I felt I could help the organisers by facilitating an evening group with the help of Rachel, another survivor from the day group, since then I have had some other bad stuff happen so I have taken a back seat. I have not been made to feel guilty about taking a step down; they are there for me and only want what is best for me. It feels almost like the parent I never had.
The perpetrator of my abuse is now in prison but that isn’t the end, contrary to popular misconception. I still have to heal, I have had a bad year with one thing and another but the future looks bright and with the group I look forward with gusto.
Through the group I have found the courage to go for therapy and we have had many discussions as to what experiences people have had with therapy. We have even had some therapists come to the group to explain what they do and how it helps. This has been invaluable as it would have cost a fortune trying all the various therapies out and you want to narrow the field before you jump in and spend money. We talk about all sorts of things, from what medication we are taking to how we are feeling and all those little things we all do to cope. Sharing other people’s ideas helps because you don’t feel so alone or different when you hear what others have to say. You can also pick up a few hints and tricks to get yourself out of bad behaviour.
Before Surviving Together I never looked forward – now I look forward to lots of things:
If this is healing why didn’t I do this before & why haven’t you started?