CLICK OVER IMAGE TO LISTEN TO BLOG
I’ve thought of writing about this for a long time and to be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t. The abuse at the hands of my father, in many ways, made my other abusers fade into the background. I was sexually abused by a brother, John, whom I haven’t seen in over thirty years and another close family relative.
The first clear memory of John abusing me was when I was around 4 years old, he gave me this beautiful butterfly badge that you sew on to your clothes and told me I could keep it if I let him touch me. I had absolutely no idea what he meant and my only memory of what happened with him was me, staring at this blue and pink butterfly badge when my father walked in and screamed at John, calling him all sorts of names.
My father then battered John leaving him black and blue, he literally kicked him down the stairs. I was so shocked I just stood there not moving, terrified, waiting on him to kill me too, even though I didn’t understand what was happening. I am aware, that all sounds like an appropriate reaction to finding someone abusing your child. But what happened next was even more devastating to a four-year-old, and ensured I never said a word to anyone.
My father came back upstairs and told me to go into his room and sit on the bed. He lay me down and removed my pants all the while telling me that he would make me all better. He repeated that I was to never let anyone do that to me, that I was to tell him if anyone ever tried to touch me again. He kept saying that John was a little bollox and was lucky he didn’t kill him and if he or anyone else hurts me again he would kill them. Then he raped me. That is my first clear memory of my father sexually penetrating me and the physical pain is something I don’t think I could ever forget. John went on to abuse me for many years after, but I never told on him.
Because I had multiple abusers, I never felt safe either in or out of the house. What was even worse was I had no reason not to believe that the abuse wasn’t my fault. I was the common denominator. I grew up believing I was the one to blame, that I was a sick and evil person and I would definitely be going to hell when I died.
I now understand why I found it so difficult to identify with other girls in group therapy. I felt I couldn’t say it wasn’t my fault and mean it. I hadn’t told about my other abusers and so I really struggled to say or see myself as a victim. I could, over time accept that maybe I was a victim of my father’s, but it didn’t explain why I was also being abused by two others.
I couldn’t blame the other abusers on my father, so it had to be me. I had to have allowed it to happen with John. That’s hard to even think as John was on the spectrum of special needs. He was not someone I think I would have been afraid of. With that in mind the only conclusion I could come to was I either allowed it to happen or by not telling, allowed it to continue.
Suffering abuse by multiple abusers left me even more isolated, I wanted to belong and desperately needing to be loved. I felt like I was a freak and had somehow been placed in this home by mistake. I kept thinking there had to be some reason why everyone hated me, I believed that I was different than all my siblings. I blamed myself for being overly sensitive and hated that I didn’t find their slagging and making fun of me amusing. I wasn’t quick witted so couldn’t respond with something witty without feeling even more stupid. I waited for years for someone to come knocking on my door to tell me there was an awful mistake and that my real mother and father now want me back. needless to say, that didn’t happen.
I now understand that I was easy pickings for both my brother and my relative. I was lost and starved for love. My understanding of love was being abused so why would I have ever had any other experience. I was a moody, angry, sullen child who made it difficult for anyone who was a good person to get close to me. I didn’t trust anyone and yet I was easily taken in by the mere idea of someone liking me or wanting to be in my company.
I never confronted John in person, but I know he did abuse many others in our neighbourhood and eventually ran to England to avoid being arrested here. I have thought of John over the years and wondered what would have happened if I told someone, could I have stopped him abusing others, I will never know the answer to that. I didn’t have the courage as a child to do anything other than survive. John entered into a treatment programme in England when he was arrested and given a choice either the treatment programme or jail. It was whilst there that I sent him a letter telling him what he had done to me and how my life had been impacted. John denied everything said I was lying. He went on to take part in a channel 4 documentary on paedophiles as the star pupil.
With regard to my other abuser I won’t name him as his family are all aware of his past and it would serve no one to publicly name him which would only result in hurting his family who are all innocent. I confronted him in person, about two years into therapy. I made the decision because he had children himself and I wanted to make sure he didn’t abuse them. I asked Joyce to come with me and we called to his home when we knew he was at home alone. I told him exactly what he had done to me and how it made me feel. His response was not to deny everything and just kept saying that he didn’t remember anything. I had already been prepared by my councillor of what could happen, so I just repeated the damage he had done to my life. I threatened to bring charges if he didn’t get help. He agreed to go into treatment but to be honest at the time I really don’t think I would have had the strength to press charges and go through the justice system again. He did get help and spent a number of years in treatment and to my knowledge has not offended since.
Having a number of abusers just solidified my self-loathing. It made seeing myself as a victim so much harder to believe. It has taken me years to understand that each time I was abused and by whom, all needed examining. The damage inflicted on my mind and body is incalculable but with time and compassion I have allowed memories to be explored. I understand the damage that was done to me and the behaviours and beliefs that shaped all my interactions that at the time saved my life. Today, for me, it’s about letting go of what no longer serves me and living a life not filled with anger, resentment or pain.