I am thirty-five years old, well physically I am – even though most would say I don’t look it – inside though emotionally I am aged nine. Nine. A child, I was just a child, a bubble wrapped abused child. I am still bubble wrapped now, but I will not be abused anymore. One by one, pin by pin, the bubbles have started to pop and it is me holding the weapons. The weapon is my strength. I am strong, because I have had to be. My abuse was swept under the carpet, denied till now. I am the hoover that had to carry all the crap they placed on me; now the bag will be emptied and they will have to do the cleaning up. Abuse after abuse, the bag got fuller and fuller, family member by family member, boyfriend by boyfriend, friend by friend. I am nine years old – but not the nine year boy who remembers the first time he was abused – I am the one that will grow up, like he should have done: loving himself.
This is what Survivors Manchester has taught me: I am worth more and what happened to me was wrong and not my fault. I have not cried yet, but there will come a day when I am ready. Maybe when it is all over I will cry. I won’t be crying for my abusers, but for myself. I have to grieve. Negativity still haunts me, but those voices have been severely weakened by the work I have done through with Danny, my support worker. I found it weird at first telling him what happened to me, because I have only ever known abuse from straight males previously. Danny immediately put me at ease: he understood and believed, because he had been there. That is the first time someone has ever told me that. I have struggled for years to find my voice and be heard, and year by year, counsellor by counsellor: no-one has ever properly understood and believed in me.
I came to Survivors Manchester, because I wanted to disclose. I had made my decision well before I picked up the phone and spoke to John/Tom: it was only on the second phone call I had got the balls to make an appointment. For so many of us the decision to disclose is a personal one. It has taken me two years from the first night terrors, the flashbacks, the realisation of what happened to me, to now to have the strength to do it. I have done it for me: I will not go on another year living in a bubble. Like I said at the beginning, I am emotionally nine years old; for years I have felt stuck, like I had no sense of who I was. I realised in June last year, my perpetrator had not changed: he was still the same bully, who had terrorized me years previously. I had to disclose and protect those around him. It may take me months, years to know me, but I am on the way.
I went to the Safe Room, and it did exactly what it said on the tin: I felt safe. There were fifteen other guys, who had been sexually abused in one way or another. Some were quiet, others vocal, but we were all there for each other. I am not alone on my journey, there are other people going on the same journey as me. Our paths may go off in different directions, but we are all united by our voice. Silence has been my enemy and my comfort, for so many years, but now if my voice can help someone else, that is the main thing. I want to be heard. I am taking what happened to me and turning it into a positive.
I know one day I will break down, I will cry, I will want to hideaway, but I know there is support for me when I do.
From one Survivor to another.