Trigger warning: This post is about childhood sexual abuse, although it does not contain any graphic descriptions. Please do not read if this will distress you.
During my life, partly from writing this blog, I’ve heard about many other people’s experiences of sexual abuse. When someone shares their experience with me, I feel a few different emotions. Firstly, I’m glad that they felt that they could talk to someone about it and that they felt they could trust me with it. Secondly, though not every time and actually not for a while now, it can trigger anxious feelings, like the beginnings of a panic attack or even bring on a flashback. Thirdly, it makes me feel some level of despair.
So many people have had to suffer through abuse. So many people had their innocence taken away from them so early in life. So many people had years of their lives ruined by another person, so often someone they loved and trusted. When they should have been so carefree and full of joy, they spent those precious years frightened and feeling so alone.
When I’m having a bad time and I keep getting flashbacks and those anxious feelings, I feel like shouting out that it’s not fair. I didn’t do anything wrong. Why should I have to struggle with this? Why should anyone have to struggle with this? No child has ever deserved it, no matter what they might have been told by their abuser or their abuser’s enablers.
I think the most terrible thought I have whenever I hear another story of childhood abuse is that it will never be the last. We can campaign and raise money and awareness and help children out of terrible situations and help people cope with the aftermath of the crimes committed against them and we can lock away those who perpetrate them. These are all good things to do and we should absolutely keep doing them. But we can never make it stop altogether. There will always be individuals with the capability to be that cruel, to put their own perverse needs before that of a defenseless child. The only thing we can do is try to protect children and people in general from those individuals.
When I feel like this, I know I must try to grasp at some hope from somewhere. Usually it’s from the fact that so many of us who suffered are still here. We have struggled through and even if the struggle may not be over, we are still here. Most parents will protect their children from such harm or at least support them when things do go wrong. Most children have wonderful childhood years and never have to feel afraid of such terrible things happening to them. I can look at my own daughter, so full of life and joy and humour and know that life can be better.
Thanks for reading and sorry if this post is a bit of a ramble!