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  1. What Doesn’t Serve You, Let It Go

    KA survivor has asked us to share this poem, it poignantly reflects how painful the impact of sexual trauma and sexual abuse can be, and how having a safe space to share these feelings can help to let them go. Huge thanks and gratitude to the survivor for allowing us to share this powerful piece.

     

    *Please take care when reading this poem as part of the content (in particular the 4th paragraph after the first picture) may be a trigger for some survivors. *

     

     

    Thoughts swirling around, creating chaos in my mind- no direction, no way out

    What purpose do they serve?

    But to destroy the present or awake the senses of that were the past?

     

     

    Let them go.

    Let them go where?

    Into the abyss of the emptiness of the mind or to pen and paper to be dealt with later?

    Let go and learn to live again

    To deal with a trauma, not forgetting yet recalling

    Not reliving it yet remembering it all for what it was

    I was not responsible

    I was not responsible

     

    To be able to respond to questions, not being ashamed of who I am, what I am, what I was and what I did

    I was not responsible

     

    I understand not only with a child’s mind yet now with an opened mind

    To keep recalling and reflecting is not serving a purpose, but occupying the present

    I was not responsible

     

    However I feel that I was, however I know that I felt and recall those feelings, they were not my choice

    This can be my choice now.

    It can be my choice- not his words, his breath, his body, him in me… this can be just me

    A long journey now approaching a crossroads

    Not turning back yet looking ahead to the path in front

    Whatever does not serve my mind needs to go another way.

    I hold the map in my hands,

    My own compass to direct me,

    To guide me and point me back to where I need to belong

    I know my bricks are within reach

    I was not responsible,

    Even when I feel I was and I deserved every bit of it for being me

    I was not responsible,

    Even though I still view a fractured image of self as a mirrored reflection

     

    Wise words spoken, mind shaping a different pattern

    My ship, it will be repaired

    Sheltered waters await me if I let them embrace me

    Clutching tight and yet holding on to images of the past

    Locked into feelings, not the best way forward-

    As venturing into a sea of desperate waves crashing mindlessly on a stricken deck

     

    It will not serve a purpose, it will not heal, just harm

    Thoughts swirling around, creating chaos in my mind- no direction, no way out

    What purpose do they serve?

    But to destroy the present or awake the senses of that were the past?

    Let them go.

    Let them go where?

    Let them be processed, understood for what they were

    For how they unfolded, yet did not take over

    Let them go, into the ears of a listener

    Into arms that can wrap around security and reassurance

    They do serve a purpose, for they are part of who I am

    Yet will not dictate who I am

    These feeling do not serve me, they seek to destroy me

    I will, slowly and surely let them go.

     

     

    Posted 17 April 2018
  2. Empowerment (final part)

    We are delighted to add to the voices of women across the world on International Women’s Day (IWD), by releasing the final part of this two part blog of Lisa a survivor. IWD marks the achievements of women and is run annually on March 8. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Here Lisa talks about how the experiences of childhood sexual abuse changed her life and how she became empowered again.

     

    By Lisa, a survivor.

    At the end of my counselling I felt something had changed but I needed something more so after much deliberation, I made the decision to report my abuse to the Police. I had always thought there would be no chance I could tell the Police – it had been too long, there would be no evidence, they wouldn’t believe me. But when I met my ISVA for the first time, she showed me that it was possible, that I was the evidence and that I mattered! She was incredibly honest which I appreciated – there would be no guarantees but all I wanted was a chance to be heard so with her support I took that step.

     

    That step led to the hardest 20 months of my life – a rollercoaster of emotions, everything from fear to hope to depression to jubilance. I was warned it would be tough but nothing prepared me for it. I am fortunate that my case did eventually reach court, and resulted in a guilty verdict with a prison sentence – I feel fortunate every single day since especially knowing sadly how few cases follow the same path – but whatever the outcome had been, if I went back I would do it all over again and not for the guilty or the prison sentence, but for the one thing I had not expected, which has been the most powerful outcome. That is how speaking has empowered me…my abuser stole my innocence, my self worth and as a result I have lived decades in fear, imprisoned in my own hell. I lost what was my right, to feel I was worth something. I didn’t talk for so long because I simply didn’t think I was worth caring about. But slowly and surely in speaking out I have a voice again, I no longer feel silenced by my abuser and I AM NO longer ashamed.

     

     

    My journey continues – for me the counselling allowed me to talk, the trial gave me justice – I now need to find my peace and the abuse to no longer define me. I am sure it will continue to be difficult and emotional but I know I can do this because I am worth fighting for – I am much braver and stronger than I ever thought and I am not alone.

    I wish for everyone else who is walking the same path, to find their strength and empowerment because no matter what anyone has ever done to us, we are worth fighting for!

     

    The first part of this blog was published earlier today on IWD.

    Posted 8 March 2018
  3. Empowerment (part one)

    We are delighted to add to the voices of women across the world on International Women’s Day (IWD), by releasing the two part blog of Lisa a survivor. IWD marks the achievements of women and is run annually on March 8. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Here Lisa talks about how the experiences of childhood sexual abuse changed her life and how she became empowered again.

     

    By Lisa, a survivor.

    At 8 years of age my life stopped in a moment; with a single act he changed my life, my future and I wasn’t even aware of it. I knew something terrible and frightening had happened but I didn’t know what it meant on so many levels.

     

    This single act and the others that would follow over the next few years, changed not only my life but me, or perhaps more specifically it made me hide me, suppress me, hate me… so much so that it took me nearly 4 decades to allow that little girl a voice. Little did I know where giving her a voice would take me.

     

    It took me three attempts to visit RSVP; I would call up, have my assessment but when it came to starting counselling I would stall. I would feel such shame and embarrassment. I had survived by denial – it wasn’t healthy but it was what I had to do to be able to get up each day. And I existed of sorts. But over the years the existing had become harder, to a point I couldn’t deny it to myself any longer.

     

    So finally I stepped into that counselling room and spoke. I didn’t know where it would lead, I had no great expectations and I was scared of it making me worse. But what I didn’t realise was that in taking that step, I had taken the first step towards taking back control, towards beginning to value myself and towards finally telling my story and it being heard.

    I didn’t immediately notice any change in myself – each week would be hard walking into the building. Some weeks I would want to talk, others would be hard to find the words. But there were moments where I would stop and realise I felt something different, felt a little braver. I was allowing the 8 year old me to talk and with that felt I was beginning to face the nightmares that had haunted me for so long.

     

    Continued in final part, part two. To be published later on IWD. 

     

     

    Posted 8 March 2018
  4. I am ok.

    This is a poem by a survivor (who wants to remain anonymous) about moving from being “not ok” to starting to feel that they “are ok”.  We think that many survivors will be able to relate to and connect with this journey.

     I am ok

     

    i.

    I am not ok

    What is outside is not inside

    It’s someone else’s life on show

    And I like that life, I wish it was mine

    But the inside me is tainted, it’s wrong

    And it’s so tiring keeping that part secret

    It’s got so cold.

     

    ii.

    I think I might be ok

    I spoke today, I said the words

    And I was listened to, I was heard

    And she believed. Me.

    I performed my show life

    But she said, “No. That is not you”

    “It’s the inside you that matters”

    “Show me”

     

    iii.

    My words and my truth are making light

    That is starting to puncture the darkness

    The shame is not mine to own

    And the world that is me can be bigger

    Oh, God- the journey is long

    But I am travelling it, in skips and jumps and tiny scared steps

    I am travelling it

    And I am ok

    I am ok.

    Posted 17 February 2018
  5. Two of me

     

    There is two of me.
    One the confident professional, who is passionate about my job, described by colleagues as conscientious and dedicated to work
    Then there is me on the inside, in the quiet times when there is no one else there.
    Me that remembers the past, not wanting to believe what I recall.

    There is however two of most of us.
    Everyone wears some sort of mask.
    Everyone may be hiding a phobia, a fear, a memory.
    Everyone will at some stage put on an act, a show to those around them.

    Yet, we are not everyone.
    We are not ones who can forever hide behind a mask.
    Our mask is surviving.
    Looking back through adult eyes yet a child’s body-feeling it, seeing it in our mind’s eye.
    Our mask cannot hide the triggers of our heightened senses.
    It cannot dismiss the reality of seeing that someone in the corner of our eye or hearing words once said to us.

    Our masks are survival mechanisms.
    Built and moulded to block out pain, hurt and shame.
    Carefully crafted to fool the preying eyes of the world around us.

    My fear is family and friends discovering who all of me really is, my experiences
    Discovering the fears and terrors that have been hidden well by the years
    Tidied away into neat parcels and wrapped tightly then put away…. until now.

    Now I’ve started talking about it.
    Now the reality of the years is forefront in my mind.
    Now the triggers occur where once they were all pushed aside, once forgotten

    Now it’s real.
    My mask is being slowly and carefully removed.
    My fears are understood, believed.
    The tightly wrapped memories in my mind are gently being unwrapped.
    The inner me feels frightened,  alone and in a strange environment,  unfamiliar territory.

    Yet my mask will come away.
    I am unlearning the strategies once held tight that kept me safe and kept me in some control of my situation.
    I am learning to forgive myself for holding myself responsible
    With support I now have, and an ever present listening ear I can be reassured,
    I now realise my fears, reactions and emotions are all okay- part of a healing process

    We all wear a mask.
    What our mask unearths is the real us.
    Our mask is part of us.
    Part of our survival. Part of our story.

    Yet, these can be removed,
    There can be just one of us, not two
    The inner me can be exposed in the safety of a listening ear.
    My deepest fears can be realised and I can move forward with new strategies not to hide yet to thrive.

    To realise my potential without a mask
    To see a future without hiding,  without clinging on the memories.
    This is now possible. This is within reach.

    We all wear a mask at some point
    But do we all know what our masks are protecting us from?

    Posted 12 February 2018
  6. Created not to be used

    Created not to be used, abused yet to be me

    Placed in a family of love and expectation. Free

    Misguided choices from others led me into a situation no one else knew about

    A secret harboured, kept close for too many years- I kept it quiet- I didn’t shout it out

     

    Aiming to please, to be told how great I was I learnt new ways to please

    Experienced strange sensations and could blank some of them out with ease

    What started off as having fun was part of his game plan

    He got me to think it was normal, as if he was like every other uncle- every man

     

    Yet other men don’t prey on girls that are just 4 years old

    And little girls just want to please and do as they are told

    My normal became distorted and my view of the world changed

    He should have looked after me not used me as if it was a game

     

    I didn’t like it when he had his friends come round to play

    They watched me please him, gave me sweets and then had their own way

    I still don’t know what happened to the photos that they took

    It’s like the memories come flooding back if I look in our family photo book

     

    My nightmare ended when I was twelve -I still do not know why

    A family argument they said- He’s no longer that nice guy.

     

    I often wonder if someone knew what had happened to me

    I was too scared to tell my family, to let my experiences be freed

    I’m still afraid of them finding out, It would hurt their feelings hard

    I am so glad that a colleague I told gave me an RSVP contact card.

    My story now it is believed and nothing’s too bad to say

    I can talk and write about how I feel any time of night and day

    I know it wasn’t my fault it happened- they’ve helped me believe that in my heart

    And slowly but surely with listening ears I’m being restored,

    re-empowered, made whole- not just in part.

     

    Posted 1 February 2018
  7. Hope

    Calm waters

    Hope

    A change of tide comes about each day-
    a mood of the sea, drifting with gravity
    Sailing the waves, my heart rises and falls
    Memories gone by, some wanting to be left alone.
    some crashing , breaking on the sandy shores of my mind

     

    The power of the force of water, of memory knocks me back
    Takes me to places under – I don’t like it
    Yet also lifts me further on, to a new place-
    one of leaving the old behind
    New shores, new rocks to scramble over
    new beginnings for old experiences

    The seasons change. The pattern of the tides change
    Time changes me.
    From in the depths of the harrowing winter storm season of my trauma emerges the spring tide-
    some swells, some lows yet all the time moving forward

     

    Healing is also for a season. The tides of my life
    Time to have heart ache, feel enormous pain
    To re-live the nightmares of the past that emerge as a storm into my present

     

    Times of feeling dragged under water, unable to keep my head afloat, to breathe alone

     

    Yet times of letting it go- letting the waves rise and fall and know i will not perish into the depths of my mind- into the total abyss of feeling the hurt, lonely, worthless, used rag that I will not continue to be

     

    Knowing that as a wave takes me I am no longer alone.
    I no longer become dragged down by secrets needing to be kept out of fear
    I can look forward- to new shores
    Remembering my past yet not being held captive by it
    Swimming, not drowning, being able to stay afloat

    Swim not drown

    Seasons of the sea mean that I can be healed, set free
    Free to sail in a repaired and restored safe boat.
    Safe to ask questions and for some to know my past
    Not always waiting for high tide to crash, destroy and engulf

    Living in the now- without looking over my shoulder for the ‘has beens’

    I acknowledge the perils of the sea, the forces that will always be there in my mind
    Yet I am learning to deal with them, not be a prisoner of them

    To let it go. Let my self be okay to rise and fall to acknowledge this as normal

    One day I may understand the tides of my life
    Know the reasons why I ended up on this horrific path I once walked, I swam, I barely kept on.

    One day is closer than yesterday, closer than when my storm came, when I barely kept afloat

    One day I will no longer fear the open water of what could have been and what was.

    Yet for now…. I need to stay on my boat, believe in the safety of it and know I can ride the waves.

    Posted 12 January 2018
  8. Poem by a survivor

    A survivor has kindly asked us to share the following piece of poetry.  Writing poetry can help survivors find their voices during difficult and stormy times.  We are very grateful to the survivor for sharing their poetry and we hope it can help other survivors too.

    Feeling in Turmoil

    Feeling in turmoil, like a boat tossed around in turbulent swells.
    Remembering, like watching a 3d film, looking on. Watching. Listening. Feeling.
    Distant yet there.
    Removed. Not reacting. Submitting. Conforming. Letting it happen. Confused.

     

    Acknowledging my responsibilities as a child were not as an adult’s.
    I was there. It was happening to me yet….
    It was not my fault.
    It was not my fault, just as I am not responsible for the storms at sea.
    It was not my fault, for I was the child in his care.
    It was not my fault, even though my adult mind may creep in thoughts that it was.

     

     

    Heading into calmer waters and seeing things through clearer glass.
    Talking to someone who is not shocked, who listens and has the patience to hear what I don’t say.
    Attempting to let go from trying to process myself
    Memories stirred up, triggered by normal events of life.
    My mind dealing with a torrent of emotion, feelings so real, inside so deep.

     

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    Boats are not designed to stay in harbours yet sail free.
    My life, my boat, it’s resting in calm safe shores.
    Being repaired of the unseen damage not spoken of from years gone by.
    Rotten wood being gently unearthed and exposed to see the true beauty that lies beneath.
    A hull being restored-stronger without blemish or scarring from its past.
    That’s my boat. It will be.
    Heading out into the oceans of life, not looking back.

    Posted 17 December 2017
  9. A Poem by Emma

    Emma is a survivor who has started to write poetry to help healing, expression and coping. We hope her words might help you too. Thank you Emma for sharing.

    ~~~

    A long time coming

     

    Rape lasts longer than a moment,

    Rape burns an imprint into the self.

     

    Rape strips more than the outside

    It thieves the words from your frightened mouth.

    It makes you think you are different,

    Like you’re deserving of this sin.

    It cripples up the body

    It freezes up the skin.

     

    Should you ever meet a person,

    Who has survived this evil act.

    They’ve discovered the gift of healing.

    Found blessing in attack.

     

    The breadth of their compassion,

    The depth within their soul,

    The challenges they’ve faced,

    Just to learn they’re more than whole.

     

    Rape can last a lifetime,

    Even if just a moment it may last,

    Yet the power, with own permission can be restored,

    The pain, the silence, the past.

    Posted 9 December 2017
  10. Learning to Love Myself

    This blog reflects on an issue we are sure many survivors will relate to, the challenge of learning to love yourself. Thank you to the survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for writing this blog, sharing their journey and for contributing something back to RSVP through fundraising for us. We are very grateful and hope you feel proud of how many positive changes you’ve made in order to reach a place where you know what a strong, capable and resilient survivor you are.

     

    Anon.

     

    I think everyone struggles to like themselves at some point in their lives. Unfortunately for me, and so many other survivors, liking myself always seemed an impossible task. After six years of sexual abuse at the hands of a person I thought loved me, I even struggled to want to be in my own body, let alone like it.

     

    My journey to recovery started when I chose to tell a friend of my abuse. I was 12. My friend didn’t think much of it, and maybe I didn’t either. I look back and realise that neither of us understood it. By 15, my abuse had become idle gossip amongst the other children at school. Whispers in the corridor, messages posted online, texts to my phone, things shouted at me across the playground… Only they weren’t gossiping in belief; I was branded a liar and an attention seeker. My nightmare had only just begun when I was called into the Head’s office and told that he would be informing social services and my parents. My parents… it was the thing I’d always dreaded the most. What would they think? What would they say? Watching them be told, along with my big sister, was truly heart-breaking. It is a memory that is etched on my brain as the start of a downward spiral in my life.

     

    I’m not ashamed to admit, I was in a dark place. I stopped eating, grasping at the one thing I felt I had control over whilst my life appeared to be unravelling around me. I truanted from school, unable to bear the gossip and the bullies. I isolated myself from my family, barely able to take the guilt I felt from the pain they were in. Years passed by; I was stuck in a haze of my own misery, self pity and guilt, hurting myself because I always felt it was my fault.

     

    It was my sister who pushed me to go to counselling. She made the call. She set it up. And I can honestly say it changed my life. Driving there by myself, walking into the room and speaking to someone about my abuse is the bravest thing I have ever done and a defining moment in my life. I finally started to like myself a little. The pride I felt when leaving my first counselling session has carried me, enabled me to pursue my career and to finally raise some money for a charity like RSVP and give something back to people like me.

     

    I wake up everyday and remind myself that I am strong, I am capable and I am a survivor. It’s okay to put yourself first, it’s okay to look after yourself and it is most definitely okay to LOVE yourself. Every day, I read a new story and every day I am reminded that it wasn’t my fault. I have witnessed the incredible, unshakable strength of survivors and I intend to continue my journey to loving myself because of that.

    Posted 4 September 2017