***If you are visiting this page for the first time, please do look at the previous posts in this section. This is my story and it will all make more sense if you begin to read where I began to write***
So I had a medical note, I’d informed my Diocese’ Human Resources Officer, my Archdeacon, my Wardens and my Assistant Priest. But the hardest was still yet to come and I hadn’t yet even managed to find the help I needed. It soon became apparent that such help was not going to come quickly. I tried the phone number provided by my GP; I was directed by an answerphone message to a website, where I was instructed to complete a self-referral form. I filled it in and I waited for a response.
As I waited, things were becoming increasingly difficult on many levels and I really didn’t know where to turn. I was still alone at this stage and I really was getting desperate. My anxiety levels were rising daily, so much so, that one evening I went on the Internet and typed in a search for ‘Adults who had experienced sexual abuse in childhood’. Even as I did this, I felt deeply ashamed. I immediately deleted my search and I deleted my search history. I sat staring at the screen. I typed it in again and this time pressed Return. Up popped the name of an organisation called NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood). There was a number for an emergency helpline. I stared at it for a long time. Was it an emergency? Did I feel so badly in need of help? Could I actually come out and describe what was wrong to some stranger on the other end of the phone? What would they think of me?
I spent a very long time questioning, answering and questioning again. Eventually, I decided that I did feel that bad; I was beside myself with anxiety and had nobody to turn to. I had to do something. My fingers punched in the number.
NAPAC limit the length of your call. I can absolutely understand that, but my story was long and it was complicated. If I’d just been dealing with the trauma of my seven-year-old self, then maybe it would have been straight forward, but there was so very much more to it.
The man on the other end of the phone listened attentively as I unburdened myself. Somehow, it was easier than I’d thought to pour everything out to this nameless, faceless stranger. And then, when I paused to draw breath, he didn’t judge. In fact he offered me some very sound, if not very costly and difficult advice, that I might choose to follow.
At the end of my allotted 30 minutes I felt as if I was just a little bit better placed in knowing what I might do next and I thanked my anonymous confidante and adviser for his help and put down the phone.
I sat in my bed and thought very long and hard about what he’d suggested I do. It was something I had been dreading and I’d found every reason to put off doing; speaking to my brothers and sister, sharing the secret I’d kept for so many years. This was going to be more difficult than sharing my story with my husband or even my children because I was about to blow open their childhood memories and perceptions, not only involving myself, but also their mum and their dad. I had shielded them from this for over fifty years and now in order to bring about the healing I needed, I was going to have to hurt the people I had always strived to protect from the terrible secret of decades ago.