It’s Not Ok – Sexual Assault, My Story

This piece features an interview with a survivor of sexual abuse and may be upsetting for some to read. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this interview, please see the Victim Support website here or call 679950. 

Gef is working with Victim Support Isle of Man for Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week. Victim Support is an independent Isle of Man charity, which offers free and confidential help to victims and witnesses of crime, their family and friends. Friday.

Last year Victim Support saw a rise of 23% in sexual assault referals and a 33% rise in domestic violence referals between April and September 2020, compared to 2019. Between June and December 2020, they saw a 21% increase in sexual assault referalls, and a 35% increase in domestic violence referals compared to the same period in 2019. 

This interview was held by a person aged between 30 and 50 years old. They have been supported by Victim Support for three years with face to face contact once every few weeks and which has decreased over time.

Briefly describe the situation

I am a survivor of Historic Childhood Sexual abuse. Born into an unconventional family. The youngest of three children, I was groomed and sexually abused from the age of six to ten.

Although I did speak out at the age of ten, my allegations were dismissed and swept under

the carpet.

Now middle aged I found the courage to report the abuse to the police. After thirty plus years I was heard and justice prevailed and my abuser was charged,sentenced and imprisoned.

How did you know the offender?

Family member.

What were your thoughts at the time of the incident?

I’m not sure what my thoughts were at the beginning,their actions were subtle.I now know they were testing the water. As time went on I came to realise what they were doing was wrong. I thought it must be my fault,that I must have done something to make it happen.

What some people will not understand as a family member I trusted this person,I looked up to this person, I loved them.

None of it was black and white. How could anyone who did such awful things deserve protection? My thoughts were very confused.I did not want to get them into trouble or embarrass them. I was scared of upsetting the family and what if it was my fault, would I be punished? So my thoughts to deal with it all, was to deny to myself it ever happened.

What were your feelings at the time of the incident?

As time went on I would do anything to avoid being in the same room as them.I would sweat and shake with fear.

Although I was more worried about everyone else’s feelings more than my own.I did not want to cause any trouble. I remember feeling paranoid,thinking everyone knows what’s happening and they think it is my fault.

I felt unclean and disgusted by myself. I seemed to be the one holding all the shame.The feelings of embarrassment and secrecy was overwhelming. I felt completely different from my friends.

How did your family and friends react?

I opened up after I had been to the police,I knew I would need support. This was the most difficult conversation I have ever had. I was selective about who I opened up to,but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The family members I thought I was protecting through the years had passed on.  To get the words out was difficult, but the more I spoke out the easier it became. I received from family and friends lots of hugs, there were tears and shock but fully supporting me and reassurance that everything was going to be ok what took me by surprise many of my friends disclosed their own experiences of sexual abuse, at that point realised I wasn’t alone.

What was the barriers to reporting

Over the years I’ve suffered from night terrors,I’d wake up distraught. I lie there imagining myself walking into Police Headquarters and telling my story. The fear of everyone knowing the pure embarrassment and the possible repercussions was enough to stop me. I then came to a point I couldn’t go on like this.why should they get away with such a heinous crime.so when the opportunity to be heard arose I took my opportunity,it was now or never.

Even sitting doing my interview I still had the instinct to protect them.I felt overwhelming guilt of what this would do to their life. I know people might think reading this. As I have said it wasn’t black and white. 

Abuse is complex. Especially when it is someone close to you. Though I had cut this person from my life years ago the worry was still there. However since the court case and having therapy, I now recognise they are a paedophile which is somehow not what I saw them as before. Everyone is so much more aware nowadays.I think for a long time I had been very naive. I still to this day double check my doors are locked what if there was retaliation? What if they punished me for speaking out? This fear I live with everyday.

So many years have passed,at the age of ten I had disclosed to an adult in authority and had not been taken seriously. What if that happened again with the police? The police get such bad press that I couldn’t be sure of their response or even if it was possible to get a conviction after all this time. Worse of all, what if yet again my allegations were dismissed.

Support

If you have suffered from any form of sexual abuse, historic or current, and need to talk to someone contact the Welfare Team on 679950.

You can show your support for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week by wearing yellow and donating to Victim Support. 

This year, we’ve worked with the Charity on an official T-Shirt which is available to purchase (Here) with 10% of profits going to the Charity.