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Avoidance and Acceptance – Facing my reality.

When I think about my journey, I knew from the moment I disclosed at 8 years old that the relationship with my brother wasn’t right.  After disclosure I realised, I couldn’t trust any of the adults in my life either. I went against the grain, as my mom wasn’t listening, I told everyone what was happening to me, teachers, friends, friends of mom’s everyone knew but no one did anything so I stayed stuck in a house full of danger and horror. The anger wasn’t lost on me, but mom threatened and scared to the point where I kept my mouth shut and my anger wouldn’t show itself for another 20 years.

The only shining light was my nan and grandad who knew something was wrong yet felt powerless to stop it. They asked questions but for some reason I didn’t want to taint the world with that word and the horrific reality of my life. Nan was so dedicated it took her 3 hours to see me just for a couple of hours after school. She got robbed the one night on her way back home, nothing stopped her.

Fast forward to reaching 20 years old and I reported to the police for the first time to be told that my brother was experimenting, and it was harmless. Then when I was 22, Nan died, the one saviour, the one person who loved me and knew what was going on even though I never told her. Three months after her death I could not stop crying, literally couldn’t stop, I found a private counsellor.

You have to remember up until this point it was easy to live in denial and avoidance. My trauma bonds had done what they do, flight had kicked in and I could barely remember what happened to me. This along with everyone around me denying my truth it was easy to pretend it didn’t happen.

And so we come to the theme of my story avoidance and acceptance, knowing something so horrific has happened to you but subconsciously never wanting to go there. 

As I sat in the chair the counsellor’s emotionless face asking the standard questions she asked “Why am I here?” now at this point I would have assumed I would talk about my nan’s passing instead I said “I think I was abused”. The emotionless face turned into a puzzled one and I think without her even being able to engage her head and her mouth she automatically said “well either you were or you weren’t so which is it?”.

Between 2007 and 2020 I had two counsellors, but I could still never say the word rape I would call it anything else, a bit like the series The Walking Dead, they never use the word zombies they call them walkers instead. I would use every other word but that one.

Fast forward to 2019 at 34 years old I was off to London to take part in the national enquiry into child abuse. I told them my story, told them my point of view and the impact the abuse had had on my life. At this point, they asked if I would like to report what happened to the police to which I said yes.

During lockdown, I reported to the police, still avoiding that word. I had a brilliant ISVA who supported me the whole way. I was then offered counselling by RSVP and waited for the sessions to start. I like face to face counselling, I like how as soon as I walk in they (as in counsellors) start doing their thing, judging your mood, commenting on how rushed and flustered I usually am. I like how they comment on me tapping my fingers, I have always been impatient with my counselling, “Just cure me damn it then I can be done with all this”. How naïve of me. How impatient of me.

Counselling at RSVP was different, I had to face the word, and I have to properly accept my reality, no avoiding this time. I am actually worthy of the free counselling, actually worthy of their time and resources, as I say that I still have a tear in my eye and a choked-up throat.  Finally, after all these years I am getting what I wanted when I was 8 years old. Finally having to face my reality, this is where people go when they have been RAPED. Wow there I said it, I finally said it, I finally feel it, I finally get to a certain level of acceptance. 

Now the million-dollar question is, would I have got to that point if I had not received the free counselling? Would I have not to that point just by attending my private counselling alone? The answer, I don’t think so, so much to do with trauma bonds is avoidance, a lot of mine happened subconsciously too. I was going to heal from being abused but calling it rape weirdly even subconsciously seemed like a step too far. Abuse is softer, more palatable, it could mean anything. Rape is too direct, too real.

So, this is dedicated to all survivors who are navigating our acceptance of what happened to us. A thank you to the avoidance for keeping us safe and able to function when at times we cannot. Thank you as well to acceptance, for being so powerful when we make those tiny little steps towards it and giving us faith that at some point, we come to a place of peace and being able to accept what happened because I WAS RAPED.

Posted 17 July 2023

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