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Taking off the Mask – Part 1

 Here’s part 1 of an incredible story from one of the survivors we have worked with…

My story begins when I was referred to occupational health from work. The occupational therapist was a lovely lady, I spoke briefly to her about what had been going on in my life, and she quickly and helpfully forwarded me on to a counselling service.

I had an appointment but had my reservations, I have had counselling in the past but it didn’t seem to work, however I was advised to be truthful, open and not to sit there and tell them what I think they wanted to hear! To be honest, in the past I never did any of those things, but this was different, I wanted to do this right, I was determined.

The day had come for the counselling, I was nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect. I sat in the waiting room, thinking to myself ‘I need to do this’, and practising what I was going to say when I went in.

My name was finally called and I went into the counselling room. I sat on the sofa and I was nervously fidgeting and playing with my fingers as we began.

I started by telling her about my grief and how my marriage had ended, before talking a little about my childhood and my poor relationship with my mum. I’d been bullied at school and never really had a place you could call home.

As we were coming to the end of that session the counsellor asked me if there was anything else I would like to talk about. Suddenly it came out, I replied, “Yes I was abused when I was 11”, the counsellor said that she had been waiting for me to say it. I cried like I’ve never cried before, it had finally come out and I had finally opened up.

Once I had started I didn’t stop, I opened up about my childhood from the beginning; the only problem was that my work would only cover the cost of six sessions. On my last session the counsellor explained that I might need to get more counselling and referred me to RSVP.

I had been given a number which I needed to call to arrange the counselling. I had to pluck the courage to do this. I spent a few days thinking over the prospect of what I was going to go through, thought and pictured every conceivable outcome, except for one, how supportive and compassionate that RSVP would be.

When I made the initial call the receptionist was warm and understanding and I was later re-contacted and offered an appointment to have an assessment. On the day of the assessment I travelled to the offices of RSVP and waited in reception. I was so nervous but the kind counsellor put me at ease. She took me into a lovely room, where I sat in comfort with a cushion on my lap and we talked about everything, not just about my abuse, but about my childhood as a whole. She agreed that I would benefit from some counselling. She also asked me if I hated the man who had taken advantage of a vulnerable lost and heartbroken 11year old. At that time I said no.

It was time for my counselling, I was determined to speak openly and honestly. I had a lovely lady, a volunteer counsellor, who was patient with me and we took our time to unravel my childhood.

I don’t want to use this blog to go into too much detail about what happened to me while this man took advantage, but needless to say I was vulnerable, my mum was not in a place where I could talk about my bullying, let alone my abuse.

During my counselling we discovered that my coping mechanism as a child had continued into my adult life. You see during my marriage I would have episodes of depression where I would get drunk and just want to go off somewhere. I have now come to realise this is me ‘running’ just as I did as a child. My drinking was learned watching my mum cope through drinking. I never trusted men since ‘him’, I could only ever really trust women.

Unfortunately drinking and ‘running’ didn’t work well within my marriage but now I understand why I was doing what I did when I struggled to cope. I wasn’t happy, I was just getting on with things; I would hide my feelings and lock them away, I began to be in a rut all on my own, most days I was just wearing a mask. No one knew the anguish inside.

Find out more about how the story ends in part 2, coming soon.

If you would like more information on the work of RSVP, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Posted 7 September 2016

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