This Sexual Abuse & Sexual Awareness Week we’ve been working with Victim Support Isle of Man to showcase the work they do and how you can support the charity.

Today is Dress in Yellow Day, where people are asked to wear yellow to show their support and remind everyone that #itsnotok.

Today we’re sharing two experiences, one from a woman and the other from a man, of the help Victim Support Isle of Man has been able to offer people who have suffered at the hands of others.

Make Yourself Proud

1 – What can you tell us about your experience? When I was 15, I was groomed by my teacher, each week it progressed from words, to touching, to sexual assault to rape. I was going through my GCSE’s and my parents had just split up so he took advantage of my vulnerability then cried and told me he was sorry and the reason he did those things was because his wife was sick. He used guilt to keep me quiet.  

2 – What was it that led to you taking action and what was the outcome of that? I wasn’t going to tell anyone but my boyfriend at the time knew something was wrong and I confided in him, I begged him not to tell anyone including my parents but eventually he told my mum. When my mum came to me i begged for her to not tell anyone and to wait until the New Year so we could enjoy Christmas as a family, I waited until then and then contacted the police

3 – How did you become involved in Victim Support and what help did they provide? Victim Support helped me through the court hearings and when I had to provide my statement, then I continued to see them afterwards. Paula was so supportive and kept me updated.

4 – How long has Victim Support been assisting you? On and off since 2014

5 – What advice would you have for people who find themselves in similar situations? Please
confide in someone, you have the opportunity to help someone else and protect them. Regardless
of whether you think your fine, speak to victim’s support as we all need to voice our feelings.
Don’t allow what has happened to you to define you, be the person you want to be! Make
yourself proud.

Men Should Be No Different

1 – What can you tell us about your experience? I was repeatedly indecently assaulted over a period of approximately 3 years by a male whilst under their duty of care in the 1970’s.

2- What was it that led to you taking action? I was listening to the radio about 6 years ago, and heard a police appeal for witnesses. I felt that I was ready to offer what information I had in support of the other victims. The ultimate outcome was a successful prosecution.

3 – How did you become involved with victim support? I was aware of Victim support and the work they were doing. At the outset of this journey I really didn’t know where to turn for help, so I approached Victim support for initial help and advice regarding the legal process.

4 – How long has victim support been assisting you? Victim support have assisted me from the start of this case, so 5 or 6 years now.

5 – Did being a man impact how you viewed your situation and the decisions you made? I feel that male sexual abuse still goes largely unreported. Great strides have been made over the last few decades regarding sexual abuse including the reporting and prosecution of perpetrators. Females tend to be much better communicators and are more emotionally open than Males generally, and I feel this also applies to an experience such as mine. Men will tend to withhold what they perceive as shameful or embarrassing personal experiences. I didn’t tell a sole about my experience for 20years, it was another 10 years before I told my wife. This seems to be typical of what men will do in this situation. Having been through this Journey, I hope that sharing my story will encourage others to come forward. It has not been an easy Journey, far from it, but having confronted my past, I now feel more able to deal with the emotional consequences it has left me with. I have a greater understanding of why I view the world the
way I do, and we also secured a successful prosecution. This has brought closure to my story.

6 – What Advice would I offer to others? That’s difficult. There have been times over the last 6 years where I felt I was doing the wrong thing. Confronting what happened and admitting it to others has been very painful. It is not easy.  That said, I have been supported through the Journey by Victim Support, my G.P, Metal health Services, and the Police. At no point was I made to feel that I was lying, and I was dealt with professionally and efficiently by everyone. More importantly, at no point was I patronised or made to feel like a victim. The process empowered me to confront my abuser and face him in court. I know now that he will be locked up and will never be able to do this to anyone again.

7 – Advice for men? I think that men should be no different to women in this situation, the facts are the same. That said, there is a shame attached to being sexually abused as a male, and it may be more difficult for men to come forward. My advice however is simple. You may feel shame, guilt, remorse, anger or any one of 1000 different emotions after suffering abuse, this is normal. Confusing, distressing and exhausting, but normal. Having been through that experience, you would undoubtedly say “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone”. The only thing that could make the situation worse is keeping it to yourself, and finding out years later that your abuser went on to abuse others, and you had the power to prevent that.  If this has happened to you, find the strength to come forward. Your past cannot be changed, but you may be able to prevent the same damage happening to someone else.

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