Accessibility Information
Colour Schemes
Font Size
  1. Here

    We are extremely grateful to the survivor who has written this poem, anonymously, about a recent event where she felt triggered, showing the disconnect she felt between being a victim and being a survivor. Both RSVP and the survivor hopes that the poem makes a positive difference to other survivors who have experienced the difficulty of being triggered, by the smallest of actions of others. We’re sure that many people will relate to these words and the difficulty of ‘the space in between’ following sexual trauma.


    Writing can be a way to explore, navigate and reduce distressing and traumatic feelings. Writing this poem particularly helped the survivor when a bank holiday meant that she could not attend her counselling session. We hope the poem will also encourage other survivors to see how writing can be used as a way to manage difficult situations, and express painful feelings, whether they are accessing counselling or other kinds of support, or not.


    Thank you to the survivor for giving her consent for this poem to be shared. You can read more of her work here.




    I’m frightened, so frightened, and I’m so tired of being scared

    It’s not the darkness that I fear

    Not those things far away; or those that are near

    Those things don’t scare me, it’s something more real

    The casual comment, the look, the word

    And I am back there again

    In the place where I can’t feel

    The space in between



    I talk to her and she makes me feel safe

    Her calm and her words a walled embrace

    But it’s fleeting, not truly real

    Because I can learn to play strong, can almost convince me

    That I can be that one

    But the fear will come again

    And remind me our work’s not done


    I don’t know why this happened

    I’m not sure what I did

    But I know that I don’t own me, and I think I never did

    I can live with that, can be with that

    Make that the life I live

    And it will work until I come across

    The spaces in between


    It’s not the violent storm, the drowning rain

    The punishing snow or hurricane

    There are always ways and means

    To manage those nightmares, but it seems

    Those things can’t hope to affect

    The still, dead, calmness

    Of the spaces in between

    She was so small, so tiny, so much fun

    Till the darkness came for her

    And told her what she must become

    To be two people; the happy, the cheerful, the fun-filled one


    I don’t want to know the other one, accept that she is real

    But we seem destined to meet

    In the spaces in between


    I want to take a hammer, an axe, a knife, a gun

    A weapon to make things clean

    I want to take those things to purify

    The spaces in between

    Posted 9 May 2018
  2. For Now We Look In a Mirror Dimly…

    Thank you to the survivor who anonymously submitted this poem. Writing can be very personally restorative after sexual trauma, as well as ‘speaking’ to those who read it. We hope this poem helped the author and will help other survivors too.



    For now we look in a mirror dimly

    But then face to face,

    We look at ourselves, what image reflects back?

    The memories gone by, excited images of the past

    What else can we see when we delve deeper still?

    Incidents not wanting to be recalled, now looking back at me

    Incidents of despair, hurt, fear and the unknown

    Situations that I didn’t like, fractured pictures, images mixed together

    Clear memories once locked away, at the surface-

    but I was never facing them alone.


    What else can I see, right deep inside, in me?

    A beautiful soul, kind spirit, peacemaker- that’s part of me

    My inner me, not damaged by the world,

    Kept apart, at one in God, His spirit in me

    How do I move on, from an unclear reflection?

    Focus on the good, the pure, and the wholeness of creation

    Memories gone by, some clear, some fade

    People join on the journey to help make clear the way.


    Where does it lead, this path that contains despair?

    Not to hope, kindness and peace- it’s not welcomed there

    Time to let go, to look the other way

    To choose the mirrors I look into and others I can turn away

    Bridges built around my box can slowly be taken down

    I want to see the inner me not crushed into the ground

    My boat will make it to harbour’s rest,

    It shall be restored-

    not tainted by memories that are there still, some not yet removed

    One day I can ask the questions-

    If by then I do still want

    But for now I will rest in assurance that

    My life does hold value not hurt.


    For now, I look in a mirror dimly- but then face to face

    Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, just as I am fully understood.


    Posted 4 May 2018
  3. Abuse, part 1

    Shannon has written this post on coping with the abuse she experienced in a relationship.

    This post has been really hard for me to write and I’ve debated whether or not to post it on more than one occasion. The only other people I have shared this with is my counsellor and my Mom and I’m not ready to share the whole story yet but I’m hoping that by writing this it can make at least one person stop blaming themselves for something that has happened to them.

    I was one of those girls who really believed in fairy tale romances and wanted so much for the first boy I kissed to be my husband and we’d live happily ever after. I now see this was very naïve of me. This might happen to some people but it definitely didn’t happen for me.

    I was in an abusive relationship for two years. This was almost two years ago and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m taking back control of my life.

    In all honesty I hadn’t realised it was abusive until I started telling my counsellor little things, and he said to me ‘you know what that was’? I said ‘yes a controlling, manipulative relationship’ and he said ‘what you’ve just described to me is emotional and sexual abuse’. It was then that it clicked.

    You must think, how could you not realise something like that? And that’s exactly what I’d think if I was reading this about someone else. But I didn’t, which sounds so stupid and it’s what gets me even now, two years later. I feel so annoyed at myself for letting it happen and not walking away sooner.

    Although I thought I loved him at the time, I never liked him as a person. I’d never understood why, when I was over him, it was taking so long to get over what he’d done to me. I thought it was because it was my first relationship so it was taking me longer than most people to get over it.

    It wasn’t until the counsellor said what he did that it clicked.

    I knew all along deep down that the way he treated me wasn’t right and wasn’t normal but I thought it was just my anxiety making me read more into it and that was what he used to tell me as well. Everything that ever happened was my anxiety’s fault and “A normal person wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of it.” His words for everything that ever happened. So I assumed that was what it was and it was something that was in my head and something that was wrong with me.

    I thought I was the problem so even if I left him and found someone else the same thing would happen. So I stayed with him hoping things would change and creating a future in my head of how I wished things were. This also took me a long time to get over. I was mourning a future that never existed.

    I wasn’t sure what was normal but what I was sure about is that it was not how I imagined a relationship to be. I don’t understand why I put up with it but I do know it has made me stronger and I wouldn’t put up with that from anyone again no matter how much I thought I loved the person.

    I’ve always been the strong minded one of my friends. The one who people go to for advice but that’s the thing with me, I’m the best at giving advice but when it came to me being in this situation it’s like I completely lost my mind. I no longer thought for myself and instead just did everything I could to make him happy, even jeopardising my own happiness and my family’s happiness.

    When my friends or someone on TV had been cheated on, I would be the first to say how I wouldn’t put up with that from anyone and “If a guy treated me like that he’d be straight out the door”. But no one knows how they will react in these situations until they’re actually faced with it themselves.

    I turned from this strong minded, independent business owner, to a timid little girl whose emotions and every aspect of their life was controlled solely by this one guy. I was the girl I’d always felt sorry for and always promised myself I’d never be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the most confident person but I knew my worth, something which I completely lost when I met him.

    If at the time my friend was telling me that her boyfriend was treating her like this then I would of told her to leave him immediately but it’s not the same when you’re living it. You don’t realise how bad it is until afterwards. When it’s your boyfriend who you trust 100% who is doing these things to you, you don’t question it because he’s your boyfriend.

    I blamed myself a lot and thought it must have been because I wasn’t confident or experienced that these things didn’t feel normal. I now know it wasn’t me at all and they were in fact not normal, he was not normal and the relationship was not normal.

    It took me a long time to accept what had happened and although I don’t think I will ever fully be over it, I am learning to deal with it. I kept this to myself for a long time afraid that if I told someone they would either not believe me or think I was stupid for putting up with it for as long as I did. I was scared I’d look weak. But speaking about it to my counsellor and telling my Mom has really helped.

    My Mom couldn’t understand why I couldn’t move on and after I told her she realised it wasn’t as simple as a normal breakup. I thought that talking about it would make it feel like a weight being lifted but to begin with it made me feel worse. At the time having to relive everything didn’t help but I now see that I needed that to move on. I thought if I kept it in and didn’t speak about it then I could pretend it didn’t happen, and talking about it would make it real. It was actually the opposite and I wished I would have told someone sooner because instead of blocking it out like I used to, I have now processed what happened and have started to move on.

    I’m not completely back to myself yet and obviously certain things trigger the thoughts again but I’m the best I’ve been in a long time. I’m now on the waiting list with RSVP after being referred there by my counsellor and having an initial assessment appointment with them and I can now see my life moving forward rather than being stuck in the past.

    I have also started a blog in the hope that I can help someone who is going through or has been through a similar thing to me –



    Posted 1 May 2018
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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 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.



    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”



    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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Hope

    Calm waters


    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