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  1. Triggers

    Thank you to Ann for sending us this poem about triggers. Anything can be a trigger, and it can be hard to navigate the world knowing you might be painfully triggered.

    You can be “alright”,

    Actually “fine”,

    I mean

    Actually present,

    Actually there,

    Do I dare

    to say

    “OK”?…….

    It hits,

    You’re gun shot

    that quick!

    The needles stick,

    The walls hit

    That slick!

    The fog descends,

    Under the blanket

    You wrestle to regain

    Pain –

    Control

    From bleeding out

    Your heart.

    It’s futile,

    You’re immobile

    You choke and splutter

    Stutter, mutter, it

    Traps you,

    Flaps you.

    Try in vain

    To regain

    “You”,

    Without this pain.

    Then, after time,

    Shaft of light,

    A branch,

    A twig,

    A stepping stone

    To somewhere bright.

    A foothold

    Up towards the light.

    A hand to grab

    A tool to stab

    The bastard trigger

    Dead.

    Then, breathless,

    Plaster on,

    Carry on,

    You struggle back

    to being “You”             ,

    but know the score,

    the gunshot bore,

    the gaping hole,

    Scarred but

    Double hard,

    You’ll know it next time,

    More control,

    Smaller hole

    In your head.

    In your heart

    You start

    Again

    To fit the mould.

    Halt the cold,

    The ice –

    incise

    Shard,

    Steely hard

    Knife

    That stabs

    Your life.

    You have to beat it,

    Melt it out,

    Burn the sucker

    Have no doubt.

    Regain control,

    Ignore the blip

    You mustn’t

    ever let

    “You” slip.

    Posted 23 December 2019
  2. Looking Back, Looking Forward

    Lisa has written the following piece after a therapy session, it is something that she’s been thinking about a lot. She reflects on how therapy is proving to be very helpful and that despite still having bad days she feels she is getting stronger every day. Thank you Lisa for your powerful words, we are certain that they will speak to many survivors.

    ***

    For most of my life I’ve largely blocked out my past, been too anxious to enjoy the present and feared the future. But over the past 4 years whilst undergoing counselling, going through the experience of reporting the abuse, attending court and giving my evidence and receiving psychotherapy for post trauma stress, I’ve had to face my past, present and future. It’s been terrifying, heartbreaking, hard, empowering, liberating and surreal in equal measure.

    The reality I’ve learnt is that I have to look back to have any chance of enjoying the present and having the future I hope for.

    Through my therapy I now know that my past has controlled me for as long as I can remember. Every decision and every step has origins in the abuse I suffered as a child. My no self worth led me to accept things I should have known were not good enough, my fear and anxiety stopped me from being spontaneous and taking any risks, the emotional and physical scars caused me a lifetime of pain and disability.

    Blocking out the abuse meant I accepted years of loneliness, disappointments and sadness because I believed that’s all I deserved. Each day my expectations were low – I kept them low because I was used to life that way and I learnt that if I expected the least then if anything happened that was good, that would be a bonus.

    I see now I thought controlling everything meant nothing bad would ever happen to me again. The truth is I suspended my life…not in time but definitely in living. I was scared to live because I had seen the worse side of it.

    It was so hard to take that step forward to have counselling, to finally acknowledge to myself just how sad and lost I was. It was incredibly hard to make the decision to report the abuse, to have to open up and expose my vulnerability and fear. And it was scary to walk into psychotherapy knowing for me that this was my best chance to finally be able to cherish the here and now, and find my peaceful future.

    Taking the path I chose is not the right one for everyone but for me it has been. I’m still on that path but I’m much further along it than I ever dreamed when I stepped on it 4 years ago. The nightmares of my past are becoming fainter and I’m increasingly able to handle them when they feel near, my belief in myself and self worth grows daily. I’m beginning to enjoy the here and now, cherishing being alive rather than feeling it is a chore, and my hope for my future as a more peaceful and hopeful one, grows daily.

    To all survivors out there I hope you find your own path. Remember that we are so very much stronger, braver, courageous and determined than we know. Don’t be scared to look back because in doing so you can look forward to the life you deserve.

    Posted 18 December 2019
  3. My relationship with my body is improving

    Huge thanks to the survivor who anonymously wrote this blog talking about how she began to have an improved relationship with her body again. She sums up how abuse and trauma is embodied, it is carried in our minds and also in our bodies. She talks about how it’s been vital that she had the chance for her body to heal too and how running has allowed her to connect with and feel back in control of her body again.

    At RSVP we have several ways you can reconnect with you body again, from offering tai chi, walking, singing and more at our peer social groups and coffee morning, and through a running group offered by our sister organisation GINA. The group is very small and meets on a Saturday morning at Cannon Hill parkrun. Drop Lisa an email at: lisa@gina.uk.com if you’re interested.

    ******

    Like a lot of survivors, for many years I’ve had a poor relationship with my body. When I thought about it all, I hated it. I felt it had let me down because of the way it responded to some of the things that were done to me. I punished it; I filled it with alcohol, put it in dangerous situations and cut it. Eventually, it dawned on me that my counsellor had been right all along when she told me these were short-term solutions that were ultimately harming me, so I started to run.

    At first, “running” consisted of jogging for a few seconds with an extraordinarily patient friend and it’s no exaggeration to say that I looked like one of those nature programmes where baby elephants try to take their first steps – only they have less swearing. Afterwards I had to pretend I was thinking about answers to my mate’s questions (difficult ones such as; are your shoelaces undone?) to hide the fact that I couldn’t speak. Fortunately I’m menopausal- which at least explained away the excessive sweating.

    In a short space of time though; seconds of running became a minute, then two. Then I joined a Couch to 5K programme where I was encouraged and coached to run 5 kilometres by some of the most friendly and supportive people I have ever met. That was 6 months ago and I have recently run 10 km for the first time.

    Running has been a revelation. My relationship with my body is improving. Rather than letting me down it has powered me to achieve things I didn’t know I could. Now, my heart pounds because I’m running up a hill, not just because I’m feeling anxious again. I’m tired because I ran, not because I sat up all night drinking.

    I can feel my calf muscles straining and know that they are mine, that I am my body and my body is me. I can feel aches and pains and interpret them and act on what they’re telling me. For the first time I am learning that other people can talk about my body to me and it is not a threat, there is nothing to fear. When they talk about the shape of my legs or the way I hold my chest it is not a prelude to something awful. It’s another human being seeing me as I am learning to- a whole, complete person that’s doing something amazing and wants to do it better.

    When I feel the ground under my feet, it’s impacting on myfeet that belong to me, no-one else. They’re my lungs inflating, it’s my chest rising and falling. And I can stop anytime I want to…

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a panacea. I still get bad days and I can get triggered with the best of them. But now I have an option; instead of reaching for the bottle or hiding in the house, I can go for a run. It can be 60 minutes or it can be six but it leaves me feeling good about myself and in control of what I do. Plus to date, running has yet to give me a hangover.

    I still swear at my mate when we’re jogging together though!

    Posted 2 November 2019
  4. RSVP

    This poem about RSVP was written by Ann. Thank you Ann for your warm words. And sorry about the clumsy lifts! 🙂

    Don’t take this from me,
    This calm of places,
    The arms that hug me,
    The smiling faces.
    I need to come here,
    I need to fit,
    I just need to be
    Allowed to sit.

    It’s precious now,
    To those who come,
    It’s strength in numbers,
    It allows us fun.
    It smells of safety,
    It smells of nice.
    I feel warm here,
    There’s no ice.

    The buzzer on the wall,
    The clumsy lifts,
    The mouse-size toilets,
    No-one fits.
    The chairs,
    The cushions,
    The bing-bong bell,
    Safe oasis
    From our hell.

    Don’t take this from me,
    I need it here.
    I need to know
    That others fear,
    Reach and huddle,
    Meet and cuddle,
    Know I’m breathing,
    Know I’m here,
    Know that
    These are people
    I don’t have to fear.

    Posted 31 July 2019
  5. Remember

    Thanks to the anonymous survivor who shared this powerful poem.

    ** Trigger warning. This poem could cause distress and bring back painful memories if you have also been subjected to rape, sexual violence and abuse. **

    Remember, remember 

    They said

    Remember what happened 

    Remember the surroundings

    Was the light on or off?

    Remember

    How he placed his hand on my thigh

    Gripping it tightly 

    The pain from his thumb

    Piercing my leg

    Remember what he did

    His hand on my mouth

    Stop messing

    You want this

    I never wanted this.

    Posted 13 July 2019
  6. Survivor poem

    This bold and profound poem was written by an anonymous survivor. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

    You took something that wasn’t yours to take. 

    Robbed me of my choice, made me feel I had no voice.

    You took something that wasn’t yours to take.

    Distorted every image of myself I see, created demons and trapped them inside me.

    You took something that wasn’t yours to take.

    I don’t forgive you.  People will continue to say that forgiveness will set me free.  Well then, I forgive me.

    I forgive me for allowing what you did to make me think I was worthless. I forgive me for the years of torture now I know that I am blameless.

    You don’t define me, I define me.

    I will place blame where blame is due, and if even for a moment, you will carry this weight, too.

    Posted 3 July 2019
  7. Not Alone

    This poem was written by Ann. Thank you so much to Ann for sharing your words with us and other survivors.


    My world
    was still,
    stopped.
    No tick tock,
    vacuum
    no room
    for air or breath.
    Now it’s here
    the FEAR
    marching in my brain.
    Alone with no
    control,
    Insane?

    Mistrust,
    body rust
    brain dust,
    it won’t wash,
    it won’t quash,
    It’s part of me
    I can’t cut free.
    That second I slipped
    Has tripped
    my life
    I’ve woken up,
    I smell of fear
    I am not the same.
    It’s cost me dear
    Because
    I played the sickest game.

    But still
    I can’t give in.
    Spiral curl
    into a little girl,
    wind up my mind
    into a spool,
    regard myself
    as such a fool.
    I MUST
    reach out
    search about
    for someone else
    like me
    at RSVP.
    Someone else
    who’ll set me free
    from being stone
    and facing this
    all
    on my own.

    Strength in numbers,
    strength in me?
    It’s in here somewhere,
    let it free.
    “Hard to trust?”
    I don’t deny,
    I might stumble,
    I might cry.
    But most will
    let me share their boat
    safe from sinking,
    help me float,
    its safety
    only we can share
    it gives me strength
    to know you’re there.

    Posted 19 June 2019
  8. Me

    This powerful and hopeful poem was written by Kirk. Thank you Kirk for sharing these words.

    ‘used to have such a happy smile,

    Was told I would laugh, all the while,

    Things went strange, then they went bad,

    I started getting beaten, by my dad.

     

    I got to seven, should have been buzzin’,

    Didn’t want to see the abuse of my cousin,

    Things were strange, and really bad,

    The abuse carried out, by my dad.

     

    My uncle would play, with little boys,

    Then came the day, I was one of his toys.

    Things were strange and really bad,

    My abuser the brother, of my dad.

     

    Our family life, my mom thought quite grand,

    She always buried, her head in the sand,

    She was strange, and really bad,

    I think she knew, of the sins of my dad.

     

    My parents they planned to live ‘cross the water,

    On school holidays, they’d care for my daughter

    My cousin came out, that plan was defeated

    She told everyone, her darkest kept secret

     

    Dad took his own life, he had to really,

    He craved his liberty, far too dearly

    The way he went, it made me sad,

    I never got justice, even from my dad.

     

    These words I’ve written are from the heart

    When life gets tough, don’t fall apart

    When days are dark don’t give up hope

    you have the strength within to cope.

     

    That is not, who I am now,

    I have succeeded, oh and how.

    I have made changes to my whole life,

    Helped by a woman; I’d like as my wife.

     

    Kirk

     

    Posted 28 May 2019
  9. I owe myself

    Thank you to Annette for sharing her poem with us.

     

    Nobody owes me anything

    Because I know the people who hurt me will never say SORRY!!

    They will never come to justice truly because my pain will never go away

    They can never feel the hurt they placed inside of me, not only my body but my brain also, and my heart.

    So the reason I owe myself is because I owe myself the time to grieve for what they have taken away from me.

    I owe myself to forgive myself for allowing my abusers to cause so much pain, I panic!

    I owe myself the time to know I am better than they are.

    I owe myself the feeling of not feeling ashamed of who I am

    I owe it to myself not to come down to their level and to comfort people in need, not hurt them.

    But most of all I owe it to myself to be happy, to be free and to learn to trust, there are good people out there in this big wide world.

    Most of all I owe it to myself to feel achievement and proud of who I am today!!

    It has been a long journey, but we didn’t learn to walk or talk in one day.

    It’s that first step to freedom, then it will become strides.

    Be proud that you have taken the first step.

    There are times you get hiccups, but everyone does,

    Know who you are in life,

    Just hold on, and fight for yourself to make your life happier and easier.

    If I can do it, I’m sure you can.

    Stand up for yourself when the time is right, be PROUD and STRONG

    Always, always remember you were a victim, now you are a  survivor, stand proud!

    You are the better person and always will be.

    It will be good when you feel free again and alive, fight for you, for what you believe in.

    Don’t let your dreams pass you by, you can live your dreams and be happy.

    Remember that saying…turn a frown upside down,

    A smile is contagious and a hug from someone genuine can make your day seem a little better!

    Posted 2 May 2019
  10. Fear

    Thank you to Annette for sharing her poem with us.

    The fear I feel is my own fear,

    Of life itself.

    So afraid, because I am more aware of pain and sorrow than of joy and happiness.

    I know I must not look for bad things all my life,

    Accept what happiness I can,

    Life’s too short not to enjoy part of it,

    I must accept my good times.

    Every person, whether they know it or not, has a fear,

    I am more aware of mine.

    Having time to sit and think sometimes does me more harm than good.

    So, I must accept my life and live it to the best of my ability.

    From now on I will try and accept my fears and not let them stand in my way.

    We all have a person inside of us fighting to get out, to find the reason why we are here on this planet Earth.

    The word fear is a very frightening, powerful word.

    The biggest fear for me is life itself,

    Afraid to turn another corner,

    Afraid to open another door,

    The fear of not knowing what I have to face next.

    Is it really the fear of living I am afraid of or is it the fear of dying?

    I may never know that answer.

    There are always questions, but not answers, some things are best left without an answer,

    So stop searching, accept life for what it is.

     

    Posted 18 March 2019

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