Thursday 31 January 2013

Myths about child abuse #childabuse #survivors

Myth: Child abuse is rare

Fact: We now know that many traditional childrearing practices, such as hitting, threatening or shouting at children, are harmful to children's physical and psychological health. We also know that between a quarter and third of children will experience sexual assault before the age of 18.

Myth: It is only abuse if it is violent

Fact: Child abuse does not necessarily involve violence or anger. Abuse often involves adults exploiting their power over children, and using children as objects rather then respecting their rights as young people.

Myth: People lie about child abuse for attention and sympathy

Fact: Research shows that it is very rare for a person to state they were abused when they were not, however, “false negative reports” of abuse are common e.g. many adults state that they were not abused as children when they were. Police and court statistics also demonstrate that it is very rare for a person to fabricate a claim of child abuse.

Myth: Children grow out of bad experiences in childhood

Fact: Adults are deeply affected by abuse and neglect in childhood. You cannot just “get over” child abuse. Survivors of child abuse need care and support in order to overcome the impacts of abuse and live full and healthy lives.

Myth: People who sexually abuse children are mentally ill

Fact: Most people who sexually abuse children do not fit the psychiatric criteria for paedophilia, and they are often married or have sexual relationships with adults as well. In anonymous surveys, a significant minority of men in the community indicate a sexual interest in children.

Myth: People who sexually abuse children have been sexually abused themselves.

Fact: Many people believe there is a "cycle of abuse", however, research evidence proffers little support for this belief. The majority of sexually abused children are female, and yet the majority of sexual abusers are male. Some studies have found that sexually abusive men are more likely to report a history of sexual abuse then men in the community, however, the majority of men who sexually abuse children do not report being sexually abused in childhood.

Myth: People do not “forget” child abuse, therefore “recovered memories” are false

Fact: For over one hundred years, traumatic amnesia has been documented amongst war veterans, survivors of natural and man-made disasters, and adult survivors of child abuse. These memories can later resurface through flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts. These memories have sometimes been called “recovered memories”. Children who have been abused may also employ other forms of forgetting, such as a compulsive avoidance of any thoughts to do with abuse, in order to avoid acknowledging abuse in their lives. This pattern of cognitive avoidance may continue into adulthood.

Myth: Children are very suggestible and they can easy "make up" stories of abuse

Fact: Children are no more suggestible then adults, and they can clearly distinguish between reality and fantasy. Research has shown that children resist making false reports during leading and suggestive interviewing techniques. Since the early 1990s, training has been available to social workers and psychotherapists in relation to neutral and evidence-based interviewing techniques with children who disclose abuse.

Myth: Memories of “satanic ritual abuse” are evidence that memories of child abuse cannot be trusted

Fact: In Australia, America and Europe, numerous people have been put in jail for participating in ritualistic sexual abuse by groups of offenders. Alongside ritualistic abuse, they have been found to be involved in abduction, child trafficking, torture, murder and sexual assault. A child or adult who disclosures bizarre, sadistic or ritualistic abuse should be taken very seriously and given all the care and support that they require.

Myth: Many so-called survivors suffer from False Memory Syndrome

Fact: There is no psychiatric condition called False Memory Syndrome. The term was invented by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, which was founded in 1992 to represent the interests of people accused of sexually abusing children. Throughout the 1990s, a number of sympathetic journalists reproduced their claims about an “epidemic” of “false memories” of sexual abuse.

Myth: Many psychotherapists practice “Recovered Memory Therapy” and encourage clients to blame their parents for abuse that never happened

Fact: There is no psychotherapeutic technique called “Recovered Memory Therapy”. The term was also invented by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, and whilst failing to provide a firm definition, they used it to describe all forms of therapy and counselling where a client may disclose a history of incest or abuse. Many journalists used the term in the erroneous belief that it referred to an existing category of therapy.

Courtesy of ASCA 

Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Trauma of Sexual Abuse #childabuse #survivors

Sexual abuse is a painful reality. Millions of children have suffered the shame, humiliation, anger and sadness that sexual abuse often causes. Fortunately, as we become better able to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and help children understand that it's safe to tell someone about it, more people are getting the help they need.
Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether or not sexual abuse has occurred. Clearly, if an adult has sexual intercourse with a child, the child has been sexually abused. But this is certainly not the only sexual act that is classified as abuse. Even seemingly less serious sexual behaviors are damaging to children and are considered abusive. For instance:

  • Fondling or kissing a child in a sexual manner
  • Making a child watch pornographic movies or observe sexual activities
  • Exhibiting one's sexual organs to a child or making the child display his or her own genitals
  • Taking sexually explicit photographs of a child
  • Talking with a child in a sexual or seductive manner
Regardless of the severity, any form of sexual abuse is detrimental to the victim's well-being and requires serious attention.
Confronting sexual abuse, your own or a child's, is often very difficult. It is not unusual to deny or try to cover up sexual abuse. Sometimes this is because the perpetrator, or abuser, has threatened harm if the abuse is disclosed. Other times it is because of the victim's feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Telling someone about the abuse can he especially difficult if the abuser is a trusted family member or family friend. In fact, over one-third of individuals who are sexually abused never reveal the abuse. Adults who have kept the secret of sexual abuse locked away for many years may find it too painful to re-open these wounds and acknowledge the abuse. For these reasons, it is difficult to determine how many people have actually been sexually abused. However, recent studies have found that:

  • Up to two-thirds of females and one-third of males may be sexually abused at some time in their lives.
  • Sexual abuse is present in all classes, races and religions.
  • Females are two to three times more likely than males to be sexually abused.
  • The majority of sexual abuse begins when children are under 6 years old.
Sexual abuse can occur both within and outside the family However, almost all sexual abuse victims know their abusers and oftentimes it is a male relative, such as a stepfather, uncle, grandfather or brother. Although less common, there are incidents in which the abuser is female.

It is difficult to understand what drives an individual to sexually abuse a child; it is even more difficult to understand when the abuser is a family member or someone you love. Although little is known about the characteristics of sexual abusers, we do know that many perpetrators, or abusers, have themselves been sexually abused as children. Also, many of these individuals suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse problems or a variety of other psychiatric disturbances. It is important that the perpetrators of sexual abuse seek help. Often, psychiatric treatment is beneficial.
If a child spontaneously reports or suggests sexual abuse, it is crucial to take it seriously; children rarely make false accusations of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, very few children directly report sexual abuse. Because of this, it is helpful to be aware of some of the subtle cues that might indicate abuse is occurring. Below are some of the common symptoms that sexually abused children and adolescents often display.

Behavioral Signs

  • Sexualized behavior, for instance, children engaging in sexual play with dolls, or adolescents engaging in indiscriminate sexual activity
  • Acting-out behaviors such as running away or temper tantrums
  • Regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking, baby talk or curling up in fetal position
  • Poor school performance
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Self-mutilating behaviors, cutting self or hurting self in other ways
  • Radical behavior change in any direction. For example, suddenly becoming a model child or suddenly beginning to act rebellious or unruly
  • Eating disturbances
  • Sleep disturbances, especially nightmares or insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
Emotional Signs
  • Depressed or sad mood
  • Feeling anxious in general or having fears of specific settings or circumstances, often related to the abusive situation
  • Perfectionism
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt, self-blame
Dissociation which in its mild form may include excessive daydreaming or a disconnection of feelings and experiences. More severe forms of dissociation, such as multiple personality disorder, may include adopting different and distinct personalities. The presence of multiple personalities is often displayed by rapid changes in mood, lapses in time or memory, and variations in skills and abilities.
Physical Signs
  • Abdominal pain
  • Genital, urethral or rectal pain, bleeding or abrasions
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Bed-wetting
  • Bed-soiling
  • Pregnancy
Remember, the presence of any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a child has been sexually abused. However, the presence of a combination of these symptoms should alert an adult to the need to investigate the possibility of past or current sexual abuse. If you are concerned, arrange for a diagnostic evaluation with a licensed physician or psychologist.
Unfortunately, children who have been sexually abused are not always able to tell someone or get help. Although the abuse may have stopped or perhaps was only a single occurrence, failure to recognize or treat a sexually abused child can lead to a variety of emotional problems later in life. Recently, greater attention has been given to the unique difficulties survivors of sexual abuse must confront. Although every person's experience is different, some common long-term effects include:

  • Low self-esteem, feelings of self-hatred or shame.
  • An inability to trust, often leading to difficulties in establishing relationships.
  • Sexual difficulties or a lack of ability to feel sexual with individuals other than those with whom there is no attachment.
  • Continuation of the sexual abuse cycle: marrying an abusive partner or abusing one's own children.
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use, sometimes leading to substance abuse disorders.
  • Chronic abdominal, urinary tract or gynecological problems.
  • Repressed anger and hostility.
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide.
  • Anxiety or panic.
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, an obsessive concern about food, weight and body image that leads to self-starvation; or bulimia, the destructive cycle of binge eating and purging.
  • Dissociative disorders, the most severe form being multiple personality disorder
If you, or someone you know, has been sexually abused, there are a variety of helpful treatments available. These range from self-help groups to individual or group therapy to a combination of these treatments. Although psychotherapy is the most common form of treatment used to help sexual abuse victims, there are times when medications, such as antidepressants, can be helpful. If psychiatric problems have resulted from the sexual abuse, treatment targeting these difficulties also might be necessary.

Treatment helps reduce the shame and isolation that often follows abuse as well as helps people understand the wide range of conflicting, and often confusing emotional reactions to sexual abuse. Most importantly, treatment can help people realize that the abuse was not their fault or responsibility. The first step toward preventing and treating sexual abuse is accepting the fact that the victim does not provoke sexual abuse.
Tell someone. You do not have to suffer the nightmare of sexual abuse alone. There is help available. The pain does not have to continue indefinitely. You may be experiencing one or more of the symptoms we have discussed or other problems that seem unrelated to sexual abuse. Addressing the problems of the abuse is likely to help alleviate many of your emotional difficulties. Do not be ashamed; you are not to blame.

Report it. If the abuse has occurred within your family, contact your local child protection agency. If the abuse has occurred outside of the family, report it to the police. Your first responsibility is to protect the child.

If a child even hints that sexual abuse has occurred, it is important to take it seriously. Allow the child to !talk freely and to feel safe talking to you. Disclosing abuse is a frightening experience, especially for a child. Show that you understand and believe the child. Help the child realize that he or she did not cause the abuse and is not to blame for it. Don't let the child suffer alone.
We have developed this pamphlet, part of our Learn to Understand Mental Illness program, to help you realize that survivors of sexual abuse need and deserve compassionate help. Reading this information may be your first step toward recovery.

If you can recognize the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse it may help you or someone else live a more healthy and fulfilling life.
Reprinted with permission from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) of Wishigan.

Sex Fiend Britain #childabuse

THIS map unearths for the first time where every (registered) paedophile and rapist in England and Wales lives.

After an eight-month investigation, The Sun can reveal exactly how many of the 41,036 registered sex offenders there are in YOUR area.
There are 4,651 living in the capital and 1,449 in the second city, Birmingham.
But when the population of the major cities and towns of Britain is taken into account, a different picture emerges.
There is a clear regional divide, with a higher density of sex offenders located in the North compared with the South.
Yet most predators per capita are based in the West Midlands.
The region where there are fewest sex offenders per capita is the East of England (64.22 per 100,000 population). Perhaps surprisingly, London has the second fewest — at 64.53 per 100,000.
There are six sex predators living in Alderley Edge, just down the road from where Premier League football stars including Wayne Rooney have lavish homes.
We obtained the figures fighting a lengthy Freedom of Information battle with all 43 police forces of England and Wales.
During our investigation we found that there are 41,036 known sex attackers living here.
This does not include those banged up in jail but only those who are free to roam the streets. A separate study in April revealed there are a further 3,100 in Scotland.


You are most likely to be living near one in Birmingham and its satellite towns.
The West Midlands police force revealed it has 3,304 registered sex offenders in its area, which has a population of just over 2.7million.
That means it has 120.67 men and women — who have been convicted of sex crimes so severe they have been placed on the national register — per 100,000 people.
The second highest concentration is Humberside, where the figure stands at 100.22 per 100,000.
Lancashire has the third highest concentration, at 97.7. Hampshire is the most densely populated area in the South for sex offenders (97.32).
This is closely followed by North Wales, where the figure stands at 96 per 100,000 residents.
The safest area to live is Hertfordshire. Just 48.6 sex attackers per 100,000 can be found there.
The commuter belt county of Surrey has 49.81.
Low figures were also found in Essex and Bedfordshire, contributing to the East of England having the lowest regional density.
But generally the was a national divide, with 84.04 monsters per 100,000 population living in the North. This compared with just 70.88 in the South.
In central areas the figure stands at 79.76, with 85.01 in Wales.
Surprisingly, despite being home to more than 7.2million people, London has a very low number of sex monsters per capita.
There are 4,651 being monitored in the capital but that is just 64.53 for every 100,000.
The largest number — 252 — can be found in Lewisham, closely followed by Lambeth, with 231.
The super-rich are not living completely risk free, with 60 in posh Kensington and Chelsea.
Our map is another victory in the battle against sex offenders and helps to keep families safe.
The first was Sarah’s Law, which has now been rolled out nationwide and allows mums and dads concerned about someone looking after their kids to check if they have a record for child sex offences.
It was the idea of Sun Justice Campaigner Dr Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was murdered by a paedophile in 2000.
Sara said last night: “The figures are helpful. Some forces are really, really open and others are not.
“For so many years this issue was kept behind closed doors, wasn’t something you talked about. We do not keep secrets any more.”
On the map we show how many registered sex offenders live in each area and also give the proportion per 100,000 of the population.

Sun Justice

Sun Justice

WE are horrified and disturbed – but not surprised – by the numbers.

We remember back in the days when the police had something they called the DOM (Dirty Old Man) lists (also called List 99) that were said to have 400,000 sex offenders’ names on them.
Then, in 1997, legislation brought in the sex offenders’ register. But it was not made retrospective and innocent children then and today are paying a terrible price.
Today there are nearly 42,000 people on the register. So there is a gaping sex offender “maths gap” that The Sun’s investigation has highlighted. You need more than general numbers to protect children from known sex offenders living in the community.
The map also exposes things like the authorities’ “hotspot” sex offender dumping grounds and gives the public a very real view of what they are up against in their local areas. There are risks to children, families and the whole community.
In order to better protect our families from re-offenders we need to know and understand where they are, working with the authorities to prevent these sex crimes.
We advise everyone to read and share this map with everyone they know. See for yourselves what is going on in your area.
The Government and police should be doing a lot more to protect our children from known sex offenders. We need policing that deals with individuals, joint offenders and organised rings in the real and virtual worlds.
We think it is time to take Sarah’s Law to the next level. It’s time for all police stations and town halls to have offender maps publicly available.
This would help the public and the authorities work better together to manage the risks these dangerous criminals pose.

Read more:

Tuesday 29 January 2013

January Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse #childabuse #survivors

Welcome to the January Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.

I wish to thank all those who have submitted material for the first carnival of 2013.

The more survivors who speak out, the better chance we have of shattering the silence and exposing the truth about childhood abuse.

I know all too well how difficult it can be but the journey is not one we walk alone. Survivors are finding their voices more and more. We must not let those who try and silence us win.

A New Year, New Perspective, New Goals, New Word. 

It wasn’t an easy decision, but perhaps it was an inevitable one.  Yesterday, I filled my prescription for anti-anxiety medication.I cried.

At first I assumed I cried from sadness, or resignation, or my pervasive sense of brokeness.  But I then realized they were tears of relief.
When I met with the psychiatrist on Tuesday, she drew a diagram very similar to this:
I don’t consider myself a fatalist.  I don’t express, or believe, sediments such as, “everything happens for a reason.”  I can’t accept that there was a “reason” or “plan” that subjected me to ten years of torturous abuse in the hands of a psychopath.  And yet I find myself struck at how much of what has happened over the past few years has been so instrumental in me finding and utilizing the help I need.  For instance, in order to teach, I took several additional biology courses that were not part of my major.  Two of those – evolution and physiology – have been essential in enabling me to understand what happened to me.  Being able to conceptualize the workings of my brain and body have given me a much deeper acceptance of anxiety as a natural outcome of my experiences instead of a personal failing.
But I digress.  The main peak in the diagram above shows the natural course of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  The sympathetic response is a purely biological response designed to keep us alive.  ”Fight or flight”, as it is often called, is a lightening fast, unconscious response to (perceived) threats.  The parasympathetic response, or the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” branch of the nervous system, is a much more gradual process, that returns the body to homeostasis and maintains “non essential” processes such as digestion, reproduction, and relaxation.
These two systems work in tandem to respond to the myriad of situations that we encounter everyday.  Most people operate at the “normal” level where they experience a moderate degree of arousal everyday, punctuated by more pronounced periods of stress and relaxation.
Prior to therapy, I was operating at an frighteningly high level of sympathetic arousal.  Upon waking everyday, the anxiety kicked into high gear and kept me hyper-vigiliant to a whole slew of perceived threats.  I learned to do this because I grew up in an environment with very real, persistent threats.  This vigilance helped me to feel prepared for the dangerous, unpredictable world I was living within.
CBT has helped me bring that level of sympathetic response down, to a place that, to me, feels reasonably relaxed.  But the psychiatrist indicated that I was still living in a state of “high anxiety.”  Frankly, this was news to me.  I know I have periods of anxiety, but I’m learning to manage them and can often distract or calm myself down.  While therapy has been enormously helpful, it’s obviously not enough.  I’m feeling nearly ready stop my CBT, but it still appears that my anxiety is much, much higher than it needs to be.  So the medication is suppose to help bring me down closer to a normal baseline of sympathetic arousal.
As we’ve heard numerous times, long-term stress wears on the body and the brain.  The meds are suppose to help my brain calm down enough so it has more resources to repair some of the damage wrought from years of high stress.  Honestly, I’m so curious I can hardly stand it.  It takes 4-6 weeks for the drugs to take full effect (if these work for me).  What will it be like to live at the baseline?  Just writing that sentence makes the tears well up again.  Relief.
One of the most challenging parts about this whole process is figuring out “normal.”  When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I kept reading statements like, “Therapy will help you return to normal.”  Or, “renew your interest in the good things of life.”  Or, “reestablish your sense of safety in the world.”  But in my case there is no “re.”  This sh*t started so early there is nothing healthy to return to.  My whole life has been calibrated to the initial, pervasive experiences of fear, abandonment, hatred and abuse.  Each time I find a new level of calm, I think, “Eureka. Journey over.  Healing, check.  I made it.”  Only to realize that I still have miles to go.  But when I turn around to see how far I’ve come, how I ache for that little girl who lived, so bravely and for so long, in such toxic circumstances.
The doctor also recommended finding ways to “exercise” the parasympathetic response.  She rattled off a list including yoga, meditation, tai chi, mindfulness, massage, acupuncture.  I immediately cringed.  I like yoga – the aerobic variety.  She meant the “slow, gentle” yoga, which I cannot imagine myself doing.  Meditation?  Ha.  I’ve tried it, can’t stand it.  Mindfulness?  I’ve actually worked on this over the past year.  It’s been a lot of work with no reward.  Massage?  I do it sometimes, but it’s hard for me, and it’s often not very relaxing.  I said as much to the doc and she laughed, kindly, knowingly.  ”Of course you don’t like these,” and she smiled.  We became side-tracked, so I didn’t get to ask her why she said that.  But I realized later it’s because all of these activities are designed for deep relaxation, to a depth of which is currently not possible for me.  It makes me uncomfortable and anxious because it means putting my guard down, and that is so, so, so hard for me (damn PTSD).
Realizing that was like switching on a dizzyingly bright lightbulb.  It illuminated so much that I have struggled to understand about myself.  I don’t like slow music.  If it’s not upbeat, I tune it out or shut it off.  I always have at least two “projects” with me – reading, knitting, homework, etc so if I’m caught with any “downtime”I have something “productive” to do.  I start waking about 4:30 every morning.  I do not like long meals.  I often do not taste my food.  I always have to know what’s next.  I get explosively angry about “wasted time.”  I cannot really and truly relax. 
Yes, I do sometimes feel relaxed.  But the diagram above made me realize that there are degrees of relaxation.  You see, I have always dichotomized my experience.  If I didn’t feel “up tight” then I was relaxed.  There was very little in between.  But now I realize that my entire life experience exists on a continuum much broader than my daily experience.  My current experience exists in that narrow band between the peaks of my anxiety and the “valleys” of relaxation.  But that narrow band lives within a much broader range, and by working at it, I can move those valleys further down to more and more relaxed states.  But it’s scary, because I have memories – both conscious and unconscious – of very bad things happening when I was caught unawares.
It’s tempting to keep living in this narrow band (it feels safer) but continuing to live in a state of “high anxiety” is damaging to both my body and my brain.
“One Little Word”, if you haven’t heard of it, is choosing one word, in lieu or in addition to New Year’s resolutions, to help focus the upcoming year.  Two years ago I chose “Risk” and I really enjoyed the experience of molding my year around risks – big and small – and seeing what became of it.  It was a huge year of growth for me.
Last year, I couldn’t settle on a word, so I didn’t.  But I think I have a word this year.  Well, a phrase.  It’s “moving in.”  I’ve talked a bit about this before, this idea of “moving in” to my own body.  When reading up on “exercising” the parasympathetic nervous system, mindfulness of the body was a recurring theme.  Again, this makes me anxious just thinking about it.  Indeed, I’ve previously become aware that “I” lived in a small part of the back of my brain, but refused to really inhabit my own body.  It’s a scary thing, owning a body.  Bodies are vulnerable, to other people, to disease, to brokeness, to pain, to clumsiness, ugliness and humiliation.  I learned these lessons very, very early.  I retreated out of my body and carry it around as dead weight, refusing to invest much in it because it only leads to betrayal.
That worked, in its own way, for a long time.  But that strategy is no longer congruent with how I want to live my life.  It’s time to move in.  How?  Well, I have a few ideas.
- Pay attention, and then respond.  I often become aware that I’m sitting in such a way that causes me pain, but I don’t adjust.  I will sometimes get blisters or other injuries but don’t stop working.  Sometimes I know I’m in pain, sometimes I don’t.  I often don’t go to the bathroom when I need to, because I think I’m inconveniencing myself or someone else.   I rarely listen to myself.  This needs to stop.
- Count calories.  I know, this seems weird.  But I’ve increasingly become aware that I have no idea when I’m hungry or full.  I eat when it’s convenient or when I’m afraid I will be hungry. Hunger was a persistent part of my childhood.  I’m terrified of hunger.  So I subvert it by eating preemptively.  This needs to stop.  I have no gauge of a healthy amount of food.  I know I eat way more than I need (my clothes are getting increasingly less comfortable!) but when I try to “pay attention” to my body, I just feel “hungry” all the time.  I think that by counting calories for a while, I can calibrate my body to healthy amounts of food.  This would never have been possible for me before smartphones.  I downloaded an app that I think will help me do this for a while.  I’m not being down-to-the-single-calorie neurotic about it, but I need to get a handle on what is healthy.  I think this is a step in the right direction.
- I’m considering halting my alcohol consumption.  This is still an idea I’m just toying with, but I’d like to carve out room to think about it more throughly.  I don’t feel like discussing the reasons right now, but it might be a good idea.
- Exercise.  I’m actually pretty good about this, most of the time.  But when I start feeling down, I stop.  Considering that it helps me feel better I need to do it most when I’m having a hard time.
- Try acupuncture.  That is the one thing on the list from the doc that I can imagine myself doing at this point.  So I guess I’ll try it.
- Continue learning to take care of myself.  I’ve drastically improved my skills on this over the past year.  And I hope to keep getting better.
- Practice self-compassion.  This isn’t easy, either, but I think it’s helpful in body mindfulness, which is helpful in activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Give medication a good, solid go.  I don’t want to be on it permanently, but if it can calm my brain enough to allow for some healing and the experience of a “new normal”, hey, why not?
Well, that’s a pretty good start.  So much information buzzing in my brain.  Feels good to get it out on “paper.”  Thanks for reading.

Changing My Life by Breaking the Silence Over and Over and Over again!

This is me, the year it all started
I was sexually abused often and brutally from the ages of 3 to 11 from my step father who raised me and I didn’t say a word.  My abuse stopped when he and my mom got divorced and he married someone else…with a small son and daughter.  Two years after the divorce I came home from 9th grade and was watching ‘Something About Amelia’.  This story is about a father moving on to the next child.  Today I still believe GOD hit me in the head with a 2X4.  I got up from the show, walked into the bathroom where my mom was getting ready for work and told her the news!  Unfortunately, it was too late for my step brother and sister as he had already been abusing them for the entire time. 
However, the first time I broke my silence did stop that abuse as I testified against him at 14 years old and he went to jail for a total of 10 years.  (We will save the craziness of that for another day, let’s just say, he is off the Sexual Predator list thanks to a lovely law in Washington state).
I moved on, got through high school without counseling and did what many survivors do.   I got married to a safe person at the age of 18.  A United States Marine!  He knew at the beginning of our marriage my history.  I was married for 23 years before I had to break my silence again and this time for our family. 
Multiple times I struggled within my marriage, we were in counseling allot.  I was told if I wanted to ever have the relationship I so wanted with anyone, I needed to go into counseling for my abuse and discuss it.  However, I always thought that if I did that, I was weak and my abuser would have won.   I was a professional, made a good living; my kids were happy, why open that up?  WHY – Because not once but twice I hit Rock Bottom where my kids were involved.  It was awful.  (Details also for another time).    It was time to break the silence in a really big way!
When I was 39 within a 3 week period, my husband and I decided to divorce, I took a leave of absence and checked myself into the Sierra Tucson Trauma Program.  My challenges were process not substance, I didn’t even take an aspirin.  The therapists in the program often told me that I must have been given a very tough resolve based on my history and my ability to “Do” life pretty well.  It finally hit me; this tough resolve probably wasn’t by accident.  I spent 30 days in this program – mad as hell and very sad. 
Now that my silence was broken, my children, friends, even a couple work people all knew my secret.  What was I going to do with that?  I had so much guilt and shame for keeping silent that it allowed him to hurt more kids, secrets and silence had to stop!  My answer came to me in the form of my wonderful mother who has creative skills.  When I was in ST she wrote a children’s book. Missy Has a Secret.  We took that book and published it and I created a non-profit.   The goal of the nonprofit is to get that book into every child’s hands even as a tool to say “This happen to me”.  We just finished writing our second book Dillon’s Secret and will be publishing it soon.   Guess what?  Schools, book stores, most of them just don’t want to believe it, see it, hear about it, DEAL with it.   I am not stopping, I will continue to talk about it and hope to be able to start to speak about it. 
This Blog suggestion came at a perfect time for me.  I have so much passion about this and frustration of the secrets that literally my chest is tight just writing this.   This is my year to break the silence for a Third Time that I hope will make a difference.  I am slowly putting it out there on Facebook and other areas because I know I have to Walk the Talk and Embrace my own secret before I can expect others to embrace their secrets and break their own silence.    

Find Holly and her website HERE 

The Little Girl Within  

Some of you may have seen this poem before, but I felt I wanted to share it again.  It’s actually one that’s taken from the poetry book I wrote entitled “If I Could Write My Heart.”  Sorry for the shameless plug.
Free Scared Child Alone in the Dark Creative C...
Free Scared Child Alone in the Dark Creative Commons (Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography)
my lit­tle girl she sits within,
a cor­ner in a ball.
knees pulled up and arms wrapped round,
com­ing to a crawl.
my lit­tle girl’s head looks down,
what lies ahead unknown.
she’s scared so scared to make a move,
it’s safe, you’re not alone.
i call to her with open arms,
it’s time for you to grow.
i am ready so are you dear one,
please take the step of faith,
fear no longer foe.
we now will walk as one.
no more corners,
heads held high,
he shines on us the son.
There is hope!

Behind The Mask Of Abuse can be found HERE

(Wo)Men Speak Out's Blog

When Trauma Survivors Visit The Dentist

I remember once when I was a child, the gums in my mouth blew up like an air balloon.  My mother rushed me into a local dentist.  They put me in this chair and told me to relax.  He put this adult-sized mask over my face and told me to breathe, yet I couldn’t.  Then he brought the needle out.  In a medical office you always have the option of facing away from the needle stick.  With dentists, you can’t turn away.  It goes right into your mouth and I got to watch it, front-row-center.  Five times he stuck me.  My mother, an anxious person by nature, was there for moral support.  I still could feel the panic and the tears streaming down the side of my face as they forced my mouth open.  It was a trigger.
I went to see my dentist this morning.  Before the dentist came into the room, I tried to sit deeply into the chair and relax my body.  I took deep breaths.  In.  Out.  Slowly.  Over and over again.  I picked up a magazine and, of all the luck, found an article on child trauma.  When the dentist and her assistant came in and hovered over me I started to lose orientation.  Their hands became huge as they pressed against my face.  Four hands.  They both had masks on.  Who were these people?  
I fear the water hose most of all.  They sprayed it directly into my throat, I drown for a few seconds.  Then they sprayed it again.  Over and over.  Wasn’t this how water boarding works?  I wondered which would come first, whether I would pass out or they sense that I was dying. 
The drill hit my tooth and my entire head vibrated.  The drill hit a nerve.  The physical pain distracted me out of my panic for a moment and I remember to breath through my nose.  Black dots in my field of vision.  The sensation of going into a tunnel as my periphery goes to black. 
I could stop this, but i’m a man, not a child.  So I don’t.  I told myself that they weren’t trying to kill me.  That I knew.  I hold up a finger.  They backed away and the dentist said a few comforting words.  “No problem Chris.”  I felt so stupid.  They saw a child and I felt just like that child.  This shouldn’t happen to me.  Anymore.
It was the trigger.  It took me back to a time when I had no control.  Yet I live in this man’s body so I felt exposed, embarrassed, and vulnerable.  It is something I am constantly working through.  The alternative is to never go to the dentist.  Never see the doctor.  Never live my life. 
I climb steep mountains for fun, yet it’s the routine things that seem to scare me the most.
So many of the routines in life are anything but to trauma survivors.  It is part of the reason I tell others about my trauma.  It makes them aware and sensitive.  It’s a way of telling someone this is not about you.  This is about me.  I may have a panic attack, but that’s just my body reacting and it’s perfectly okay.  Even if it looks like i’m not.  It’s like an ocean wave that needs to pass.
The effects of past trauma can’t be conquered.  You learn to let it flow.  You know what it is.  It goes.  You survive. 

Find (Wo)Men Speat Out HERE 

Talking about Sexual Abuse - Finding Center - My journey of Healing and Forgiveness after Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse

It’s 2.5 years since I started this blog. I really wanted to share my story in the hopes that others would feel safe and supported enough to share theirs. It’s not that they needed to share it here, but with anyone, someone, even in a journal to themselves. To get the dialogue going and help others find the strength to start their own journey of healing. Sexual abuse is slowly become a topic that is acceptable to talk about. Sadly, as this discussion spreads, we realize that not only are we not alone as survivors but have far too many around us able to give that quiet nod and say, “me too”.

I’d like to thank all those that have shared that silent nod here, or have gone so far as to share even some of their story. Your strength inspires me to continue on this project even when there are so many tough moments to work through.sunset in Calgary Creating a safe place to share your experiences or simply to read and connect with the others who come here was a huge part of why I started this. I am blessed to be able to connect with you and know that I too am far from alone but, supported and safe to share the most ugly of details in my sexual abuse experiences. There is nothing frivolous about finding the words to try and articulate such highly personal moments that happen to us as children by those we are supposed to protect us. The violation of trust and loss of self love bleeds into every other aspect of our lives as we grow older and try to move past these times of fear and chaos.
Sometimes it takes years to even admit these violations even happened let alone find the courage to tell anyone and start that process of healing and letting go. There may come a time when you or someone you know wants to get these things out of them and start rebuilding the trust and love that was lost. Trust in others after someone has undermined every reason for you to have had it in the first place is very difficult to allow. Trust in ourselves to be able to tell who will hurt us and won’t in the future is easily avoided by choosing not to trust ANYONE. It’s a prison of “safety” that keeps everyone out including those that would genuinely love us protect us. Once the decision is made to start trusting again, it’s such a leap of faith that stress levels rise up and can overwhelm any hope of moving forward. Talking about sexual abuse can feel like being abused all over again. The memories that have to have words put with them are relived and brought to the surface instead of being silently buried deep down. You have to have such a sense of self worth to even try and get those memories back to the surface let alone express them and let them go. Even finding that self worth to start this process takes time to build.
In sharing our stories, others may be able to share theirs and more and more people will be able to come forward and confront their abuser with a confidence that they will not be ridiculed or called a liar. People like Theo Fleury have shown us by his own example how he suffered and overcame in his book, Playing with Fire. Inspiring many to share their stories has helped millions. Predators will hopefully feel less safe to start victimizing others with the understanding that their lies are easily undone as more people are aware of the support systems in place. I was able to confront my abuser with the help of two wonderful friends, the police and a legal system that actually worked for me. My father was charged, convicted, imprisoned and deported. I hope that other predators will be charged and properly convicted as this issue becomes a bigger priority for current and future governments. The process of healing and forgiveness doesn’t lay in the hands of government though. That is a personal journey and a very hard one, if done alone. There are many ways to start that healing journey and sometimes the safety of behind a computer screen is a great place to start.

Thank you again to all those that have supported me on my journey. I am grateful for every opportunity to be part of something much bigger than myself and am blessed to have the confidence of all that have shared their energy, love and stories here. 


Teresa Lynn - Finding Center HERE

Why Didn't You Tell Someone ?

Why didn't you tell someone? Although over the years these five words had rattled around in my own mind, this was the first time someone else had said them to me. Looking around the room I was sat in, it was full of children's toys and books, I always remember a picture on the wall that was crooked, although it annoyed me, I just sat and stared at it. There were comics on the small table in front of the big comfy sofa I was sat on. Rosie & Jim rag doll's, I recognised, these two colourful characters they were favourites of my two young daughters, I remembered the many times we sat and watched Rosie & Jim videos over and over again, I sat on that big comfy sofa and smiled as I hummed the theme tune in my head. Here I was 24 years of age sat in the child protection suite in my local police station feeling scared, very scared. This is a retelling of my experiences. My time lines are not always correct. I do not always remember the dates correctly. Names have been changed to protect anonymity.

Sargent Sally Henderson, whilst a very unassuming lady, had a calm and soothing persona, she put me at ease immediately. She wore a grey skirt and jacket, very business like, you could pass her in the street and be totally unaware of the horrors this lady has heard over the years. I sat and fumbled with my car keys too scared to look up and look at her, I was afraid she would think me ignorant, truth was I was both scared and ashamed. Would she judge me? Would she snigger to herself? My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating, how could I possibly tell anyone the horrors that I had hidden away in me for nearly 20 years. Why was I sat here, get up and go home I kept telling myself. Home, my comfort, my safety, my sanctuary. This room was alien to me, I felt uneasy, but Sally was great, she go me a drink and started chatting about my day at work, perhaps it was her training coaxing me to start talking, but I like to feel she was interested.
I had a very busy day at work that day. I was a driver for Royal Mail at that point for about 7 years, to this day I miss that job, I miss the people, I miss the not having the pressure my current job brings, me my van, my customers compared to work today it was bliss. I stated to Sally that I could not believe I was here, after all these years it was my chance to unlock my inner demons, release this pent up anger I had suppressed for so many years. How do I start, what do I say. Again Sally reassured me everything was ok, take your time. I guessed it was easier to start with what had brought me to that place that night. 20 years of nightmares bottled up inside me was about to be brought to the surface, I was so so anxious.
Less than a week ago, a Sunday evening in fact, still warm enough to have the living room window open. Me and my wife were watching Heartbeat, prime time Sunday evening viewing. It was summer 1993, 8pm it would start, prior to this we would be beavering around getting school uniform sorted for Monday morning for my two young children, well Carol sorted it, it was my job to polish the shoes and read the bedtime stories. Sometimes during a story to my two girls Carol would shout up Heartbeat 5 minutes, the stories sometimes got very short. So there we were watching TV when the phone rang. Who is that I would say, as if Carol was going to use telekinetic powers to tell me, it was my Dad. My heart started to beat at that very moment, I knew something was wrong as my Dad never phoned, not because we didn't get on, quite the opposite in fact, but Dad was not the phone using type so I knew it had to be for something important.
Your Mum has been assaulted, I froze on the phone, before Dad told me the details of what had happened I knew what was going to follow. Deep down I knew what he was going to say, I don't know why, but I just knew. My worst fears were confirmed when Dad told me that my Uncle and his allegedly poorly wife had visited my parents house that evening so as she could argue with my Mum about alleged allegations that my Uncle had abused my brother as a small child. As soon as my Dad told me that Ann my Uncles wife had hit my mother the red mist came down, I shouted down the phone I am on my way. I rang my brother straight away and just said there is trouble at Mum & Dad's meet me there as soon as you can, I grabbed my car keys and left. My parents lived just a couple of minutes away and as I screeched to a stop my brother pulled up right behind me, we bolted from our cars and ran up the garden path, the sight of blood and broken glass on the front door caused me to panic even more.
As we rushed in both Mum and Dad were in the kitchen, I could still smell the remnants of Sunday lunch wafting through the house. Mum was sat at the kitchen table visibly shaking I started shouting what the hell has gone on, the adrenalin was pumping through me like a torrent of water. Dad told us that they just arrived at the door, Ann started screaming and shouting at Mum, Dad seemed clueless about the whole affair, he literally picked Ann up when she started to throw punches and pushed her out of the hallway that she was in after they opened the front door, when she was out he slammed it behind her. As soon as the door locked in frame Dad said there was a loud crash and Ann's hand came through a glass pane in the front door, she was screaming like a banshee. This explained the broken glass and blood on the front pathway. My parents neighbour seeing this mad woman and the way she was acting rang the police and shouted this to the mad woman to go away, this is most likely why they left so quickly. Amidst all the trembling chatter from both Mum and Dad, I looked at my brother and said lets go and sort this out, we ran from the house and into my brothers car and sped away, destination Uncle's home.
My brothers car which once seemed to be his pride and joy was very untidy inside, it had work tools strewn all over the back seat as he sped along a screwdriver rolled out from under the seat and into my foot, I stared down at it and wandered what I was going to do and say when we arrived at his flat, to say I felt anxious was an understatement. My brother pulled up in a side road close to the block of flats we got out of the car and walked across a grassed area to the entrance road to the rear of the flats that leads into a communal car park. We immediately saw a group of people gathered around a few yards ahead of us, as we got closer we noticed Ann my Uncles wife lying on the grass as white as a ghost with blood pouring from a wound on her wrist. I imagined her punching her fist through Mum and Dads front door and how painful it must have been, I remember looking right at her and shouting I hope you fucking bleed to death you mad bitch. At first sight of me and my brother my Uncle ran from his ailing wife to the safety of his flat, slamming the door behind him, it sound as if he threw a hundred bolts. I knocked the door at one point thinking I may knock it clean out off it's hinges, shouting at him to open the door and talk to us. It seemed like an eternity but I heard the clatter of bolts again and slowly the front door to this red bricked council flat opened. Before I noticed him there we were greeted by the smell of stale tobacco and fried food it was quite repellent, then there he was this monster from my child hood standing there in front of me, looking small, weak, dirty and pathetic, a small balding Irish man with rotten teeth and what hair he had was stained with nicotine, for once I felt brave.
As we stood outside Egan's front door apart from the horrible smell wafting from inside his flat occasionally the wind would blow through the hall and stairs and along the open walk way to his door carrying a stale smell of urine. As a Postman it was an all too familiar smell within council flat stair wells, one could only assume it was used as a public convenience by passing revellers. Another thing I noticed was just how small Egan was. This guy didn't have much going for him in life really, he was pig ugly, but due to some form of medical condition he was short, not a dwarf but just short. This is the man that seemed like a giant when I was younger, in fact my entire life I likened him to the Giant on the front cover of a Ladybird book from Child hood called Jack and the beanstalk, but he was a giant no more. I am not sure who was more scared at that point my brother or Egan, who was now being towered over. I could feel my heart pounding and trickles of sweat down my back, I could feel myself asking him in my head "why", but I couldn't speak the words.
I was very calm when eventually I spoke, it seemed like ages but in reality was just a few seconds I guess. What the fuck went on tonight I shouted? Why did that mad bitch wife of yours hit my mother? I could see his mind working trying to find an answer, he came back with, you know why! I screamed at him yes I know why but I want you tell me. My anger was swelling inside with every breath he took, then as casual as you like he said it. Because of what I did when you were boys. This was the point that my anger exploded, I was angry but felt in control, though obviously wasn't as I reached to the back of my trousers and produced a small mallet that I had picked up from the floor of my brothers car when I got out. I believed I had no intention of using it when I picked it up, it was as if some other force had told me to take it. Egan looked so pathetic and scared, but quite scary that didn't seem to reach my compassionate side, I raised the mallet up like He-Man raising his sword, this would have been the life changing moment for me, my mind was blank I had nothing there to argue against, as if my sense of reasoning, my ability to know right from wrong had gone. As the mallet started to edge forward, it was snatched from my hand by Ray my brother, I felt as if a spell had been broken and I was back in the room, total loss of control is a scary thing.
This is the point we left, we heard what we wanted, I was still kind of shocked, I was back in my brothers XR2, it could have been so much different, it could have been the back of police car. That was the night that I almost killed a man, not metaphorically, but physically. My whole life could have changed for the worst that very night. On the journey back to my parents I had visions of Egan lying in his doorway with this large hammer embedded in his skull, dead, dead, dead. As we pulled up outside our parents home I noticed a police car speed up behind us, we got out of the car and went indoors. Someone had seen me with the hammer was all I was now thinking, this is going to get serious, I began to panic. Mum was still upset sat at the kitchen table, I hugged her, then the door was knocked, it was a heavy knock, an we mean business type knock. Dad came into the kitchen with two young police officers, a man and a woman. I was waiting for the grilling to start about the mallet, but the young WPC started with, Ray and Colin I presume. She knew who we were! Then it unfolded that these were the officers who attended Mum and Dads called by the concerned neighbour, they arrived just after we darted from there to Egan's home. Dad worried about what may unfold at Egan's sent them there after us. I was safe.
Right she said, the young WPC was bringing all that training to the forefront, what has happened here this evening. I think at that point everyone went to say something, but Ray just came out with it. My Uncle abused me as a boy. The kitchen was stunned with silence, the look on the young WPC was of shock, where in her training was this chapter? Ray looked alone and vulnerable, this was my time, it wasn't just you it was me too I cried. Stunned silence again. The room was charged with emotion, Mum was upset, Dad was shocked, the two police officers looked blank, I looked at Ray, him at me, we hugged and cried. The two police officers came into there own, you guys need to make statements about this, the events of the evening then unfolded and were taken down by the officers. On them leaving they told me and Ray we would be contacted by specialist officers to make statements about the abuse, we thanked them and they left. This is one of the few times I ever saw my Dad upset, many years later when he was in the later stages of Parkinson's he used to get weepy, but this was an unfamiliar sight.

That was the night of the cold realisation that two boys were being abused for many years in that house, unknown to each other what was going on, unknown to our parents what was going on. Clever abusers don’t just grab a child off the street and molest them. No clever abusers work systematically. They isolate their victim, build a world where the child becomes convinced that no one will believe them. They blur the lines between right and wrong. And that is the true twisted genius. I recall something my Mum said that night, if I had known what was going on I would have killed him. This seemed to anger Ray, and it wasn't until later I was to find out why. There were hugs and kisses, and me and Ray left. We hugged each other, I think both knowing that there was a lot of uncertainty ahead, we both got into our cars and went home.
When I returned home Carol was waiting, she knew something serious had happened, I broke down and  spilled my inner most secrets to her, this was the first time I had ever told anyone. I was 25 years old and telling her things from my darkened past that to me were as fresh as they started. She said nothing, what do you say to something like that, but words were not needed I knew she understood me and was there for me, just the warmth from the hug was all I needed to know that everything was going to be ok, no matter what the future was about to bring. A couple of days later the call came from the police, Sargent Henderson from the Child Protection Unit asking me to meet with her and give a statement, not about recent events but events from 20 years ago. I was about to tell on Egan, could I do that? After all these years could I, or did I want to go through with this? Dragging all this up after all these years was going to be hard, could I do it, I knew for any kind of peace in my life I knew I had too, besides I owed it to my brother too to unload this burden we had been carrying forever. 
So here we were me and Ray in a police station about to unload 20 years of bottled up anger, frustration, shame and guilt, we were about to tell someone for the first time the horrors we endured as children at the hands of Egan. I was very comfy sat on the big sofa in the interview room, Sally had made me a mug of tea, it was time. I think the first words I uttered were, where do I begin, when was the start point, I closed my eyes took a deep breath and began. I think my first child hood memory that I can recall is sitting on a large white and orange sofa which was being carried by friends and family of my parents as they moved into there first house, this was to be our family home, having moved from a small flat just around the corner. I think at this point I was about 2 and Ray 3, the health and safety brigade would have had a field day with that move, but it went without any trouble. I think in the early days at our new house both Egan and my gran lived with us awaiting a place of there own. I don't remember much of this time other than waking at night sometimes to use the loo and always seeing a light on downstairs, I used to creep quietly down to peek to see who was down there, more often than not it was my Gran sat at the kitchen table playing cards. It was only years later that Mum told me she used to wait up for Egan when he used to go out, often she was up most of the night.

Mantaray House was 1960's design block of council flats where they both lived for about a year I think when they eventually moved out of our house. I always remember this flat to be quite cold and sparse and I can still picture my Gran sat in an armchair with a table in front of her playing patience, me and Ray would often go there after school whilst our parents were working, I have little memory of times in this flat other than having a sleepover one night, why I cant remember, but it went without event, other than going into the bathroom in the morning to see Egan being sick in the sink. Me and Ray used to play at the rear of the flats on our bikes it was fun, the day an old car got dumped there was like Christmas we used to play all the time in that car, maybe sub-consciously wishing we could just drive away, in later years I know Ray would have wished this more as Mantaray House had bad memories for him at the hands of Egan, at the time I was safe and didn't know what was happening or what was to come as time went on.

There was so many unpleasant memories churning about in my mind I was unsure of the order of some of the events, Sally reassured me this wasn't too important a this point just start from where you remember. It was a Sunday afternoon I knew that this was the first time Egan came to stay at our home, he lived in Ireland in a caravan with my elderly grandmother, they were not Romany's, I think the caravan was a temporary solution until a house was found for them. I remember me Mum and Dad were in the living room having eaten Sunday dinner watching TV. Dad had his arm chair, closest to the TV it was Dad's chair pure and simple I am sure very living room has one. My favourite spot was sitting on the floor leaning back on Dad's legs, this was my space, mind you after a hefty Sunday lunch it sometimes had its disadvantages from a windy perspective. There we were sat like any other Sunday afternoon, when there was a knock on the front door. Usually the calls were friends for me or Ray so I jumped up and went to the door, the silhouette gave no clues really as it wasn't a tall figure, but it wasn't Mike or Boo my mates from the estate. I opened the door and saw Uncle Sean standing there, with an array of bags and a tatty case looking a little dishevelled to say the least. I came back into the living room and looked at Mum and said, "Uncle Sean is here", Mum looked bemused and said, "don't be daft he's in Ireland". He came in behind me and said hello. Egan had landed, at that point I was quite excited, Uncle Sean had come to stay, he was like a big kid really, lots of fun and I was glad he was here, little did I know what was to come.
Our new home was a 3 bedroom council house which in the early 70's was deemed a nice area, the same cannot be said today sadly. The layout upstairs was traditional, 3 bedrooms two big and one small. The small room was always known as the spare room as it was used by no one, but I do recall it had an old bed in there with a spring base and mahogany headboard and a rather lumpy mattress, it had a design that reminded me of a pair of Dad's pyjamas, there was also a small bedside locker, that was it really. This was to be Egan's sanctuary for his stay. Mum was puzzled as to why he turned up, he should have been at home looking after their elderly frail mother, but he convinced Mum that she was being taken care of by friends, I am certain Mum never really believed this, and she was later to be proved right. The photo was taken many years later when Mum & Dad moved out, I guess the metal covers on the windows were to stop thieves breaking in and stealing the central heating, the top right window was my bedroom. Just a normal house in a normal road, but a house that hid dark secrets.

As days and weeks were to pass the one thing I do remember quite clearly was that Egan's bedroom smelt horrible, he was a smoker and a drinker and hygiene didn't come high on his list of things in life. Being a nosey child when he wasn't in the house I used to ferret around in his room, not looking for anything in particular just being nosey, this was the first time I had ever seen a magazine which had pictures of naked men and women. I didn't know what to make of it to be honest, there were several of them, and over the coming weeks I looked at them several times, curiosity perhaps. Under the bed were lots of empty wine bottles, empty of wine that is, but full of wee. How dirty and how lazy as the toilet was about 10 feet away from his room.

One day whilst looking at the magazines Egan came into the room, I didn't know he was in, I was in big trouble for sure. Egan sounded funny, he had a wobbly voice and smelled of beer. He sat on the bed and asked did I like the magazines, I think I shrugged my shoulders, I didn't know whether I liked them or not really. Egan's next question had me stumped, "do they make you hard"? I always remember it and never knew at the time what he meant. He was sat on the bed next to me and picked up another magazine and started to peer through the pages, he then stood up and undid his belt, a large brown leather belt with a large buckle, he then unzipped his trousers pulled them and his pants down and stood there in front of me fully exposed. I remember thinking this was naughty and I got up to leave, he moved in front of the door as if to block my exit, he was now rubbing his willy, what a strange name for it, but I was young and that's what it was called. I remember him breathing heavily and pulling funny faces, then he moved closer to the bed where I was still sat, all of a sudden the front of my t-shirt and chin was covered in a white sticky stuff, I was shocked, what just happened. Egan told me to go the bathroom and clean it off, its our secret he said, he closed the door behind me and I went to the bathroom to clean off semen, I was 5 years old. This was the first of many such incidences, but worse was still to come many months later.

Sally asked if I was ok and if I wanted another drink, a cup of tea would be great I replied. I couldn't believe what I had just said, I had never told anyone about these things before, it felt scary but at the same time I felt a sense of relief at having told someone. From then on I really couldn't stop talking it seemed to just flow, I think I told Sally I likened it to fizzing up a bottle of pop and taking the cap off and the contents just spilling out at super fast speed. Talking openly about my abuse led to me remembering things that I had forgotten, this was it time to sweep it all out and hopefully move on. One of the things that I did remember was Egan's fascination for recording devices of the day. He used to have these big reel to reel tape recorders and would often set them up around the house and just record chit chat, me and Ray used to love talking into the old bacolite microphone, we used to giggle when we heard our voices being played back, Egan later had a cine camera, again we used to act the clown in front of it, we were young children after all. We never thought for a moment that such equipment would be used for anything other than capturing the past. Many many years later I was proved wrong.

Some months after Egan moved in with us for reasons unknown to me till very much later in life Egan moved out of the small bedroom and Mum told me he was going to be sharing with me in the bigger room. I kind of guessed that as Ray was older he was now going to be getting a room of his own, it was fun sharing with my big bro, although on occasions I did rather torment him, but he was my big brother and I loved him. When Egan was not doing the horrible things he was a funny Uncle, very childlike himself, stopping up late and telling stories, ghost stories especially. In mine and Ray's bedroom there were two single beds either side of the room with a dark wooden chest of drawers in the middle, I remember bashing my eye on those drawers when me and Ray were jumping from bed to bed, daft thing to do, and it hurt. The beds were very different, one being a posh new divan very comfy the other being mine was an old style rickety bed, I guess that's the perks of being a big brother you get the better things. When Egan moved into my room I thought I would get the posh bed, but Egan had other ideas and claimed it immediately.

Another of the more sickening events that haunted me was in my mind one that showed Egan to be the vile creature that he is in quite a nasty way. I remembered one evening being a little under the weather, feeling quite sick, so Mum put me to bed, Egan said as I was poorly I could have the posh bed, that was cool, it had candy stripe cotton sheets that were super warm, I think I went to sleep almost straight away. I was awoken sometime later with Egan in the bed with me, I felt that my pyjama bottoms were off I knew I had them on when I got into bed, he had obviously taken them off. He told me he was going to teach me how to French kiss, I had no idea what he meant and then he began to stick his tongue in mouth, I hated it, his breath was vile it smelled of the ashtray. I was for the first time scared of what was happening, this special game that he had named these moments of abuse were becoming more and more scary to me. He was totally unaware that this young boy was scared, he didn't care about me, just himself and his evil ways. He then made me perform a sexual act on him, I knew it was wrong, he pushed my head down onto him, he smelt unclean, he jerked forward and made me sick in an instant. I burst out crying, he obviously started to panic, I cried louder despite his persistent shushing. Mum came into the bedroom, I had been sick on the bed, before I could speak Egan told her that I had woken him up being sick, I could see Mum was annoyed with me for getting her up, she cleaned the mess up and went back to bed. I felt alone and frightened, Egan was asleep I was too scared to close my eyes.

Egan became bolder with his actions, another time he had me in his bed on a Sunday lunchtime whilst my Mum and Dad were preparing the Sunday lunch, I remember my brother sticking his head around the door shouting to Egan dinner was ready, he held my head under the blankets, I hoped Ray had seen me, but he didn't. He also used to make me have a wee in front of him, he had what I remember to be some kind of colour/paint chart type card and used to tell me he had to check the colour of my wee in case I had cancer. I knew cancer was bad and I was scared, scared of dying, Egan was a grown up and knew these things, as a 5 year old what else would you think.

Sally asked if I wanted to take a pause, but I declined I had to get it out, I thought if I paused I might forget something, hardly likely when these nightmares have been haunting me for 20 years. Then she said it, bang right out of the blue, I think I have been dreading this question ever being asked, yet it was so simple. Why didn't you tell someone? This did make me pause, I had been asking myself this very same question my whole life and the truth was I had no answer. to this day aged 43 I still don't why I didn't tell someone. The first time Egan started the abuse I knew it was wrong, from a very early age its an in-built thing I am sure that makes us aware of what's right and wrong. He didn't threaten me, but yet I was too scared to tell, it was a culture, that like it or not, existed in the 1970s, that adults are believed over children. My behaviour I know had all the tell tale signs of a child in turmoil, I over ate, I was poorly behaved at school when I did attend, I know the school inspector came to the house on more than one occasion.

At the school me and my brother went to at this time my parents were contacted as I was accused of being a bully, one thing for certain in life today is the fact I despise bully's, I remember a poor young girl maybe the same age as me but very petite for her age was the subject of my vile tongue. I was not a physical bully but used to torment and tease her verbally until she cried, how wicked was that. I hate myself for it to this day, Nicola Atkins I am so so sorry. My parents were never really interested in our school career, I think they thought of school as somewhere for your children to go so you could go to work, I am sure they were not alone in this way of thinking. Mr Brown the Head Master of the school summoned my parents for a meeting, they didn't attend, but instead sent Egan. I remember him coming to the school that day, he looked stupid. He wore a blue safari jacket that had a belt around the waist, a shirt and tie, he was trying so hard to look smart, but failed dismally. He went into the heads office, I dread to think of the lies he may have told that day on why my behaviour was poor, I knew after this meeting telling someone at school was no longer an option. Let me tell you what the 1970s was like. I heard my first talk on stranger danger at school, at the age of 6 in 1975 But no one told me. No one told me that you were far more likely to be a victim of a family member, a family friend, someone known to you. And when you did realise that those advances, those touches, the things he did to you and asked you to do weren’t right, you realised he had created a world where you just would not be believed. And he made you believe it was all your fault, not his. My fate at the hands of this monster seemed sealed.

When I was seven I remember being in Mrs Pearson's class at school, I remember her all of a sudden shouting at me, "why are you wincing and pulling that face, aren't you listening to me you stupid boy". Next thing I remember was her slapping me across the face, the pain and shock of that did nothing, concentrate she yelled, that minute of day dreaming is gone, you will never get that minute back. The class was silent, I felt all eyes on me, perhaps I should have cried, I think my tears had dried up long ago, perhaps I was numb to pain, perhaps I deserved it. I sat quietly oblivious to the lesson, still thinking of the events the day before. I was home with Mum and Egan, I guess Dad was working and Ray was out somewhere. Mum had a slight drinking problem around about this time, as her Mum had died back in Ireland, no thanks to Egan as it transpired when he arrived on that Sunday afternoon he had in fact left her in that cold dark caravan with no money and no food, ill health didn't help and she passed away. Mum blamed Egan for her death, but still allowed him to live with us whilst he found his own place.

Mum was partial to sherry and used to drink it in copious amounts, that afternoon she upped and walked out to the warehouse up the road to buy more. As she went out the front door, I made my way up to my bedroom as I didn't want to stay in the living room on my own with Egan. Perhaps I should have just followed Mum out, but she was volatile to say the least when she was drinking. I knelt on the bed and watched her walk up the road, missing her and longing for her to come back quickly. Almost immediately he was there in the room, he pulled me away from the window, I switched off at that point as I knew what was going to happen. He took me to a small area in the bedroom by the door, he stood me facing the wall, he pulled my trousers and pants down, he then left the room, I didn't flinch, I concentrated on the wallpaper, it had pictures of cottages and water mills on it, I fixated on the cottage and imagined me in there safe. I felt a greasy squelchy feeling, he was rubbing a bar of soap around my bum. Egan was stood right behind me, he was slipping his willy between my legs, I hated the squelchy feeling, I screamed out, it hurt  lot's, I cried but still wouldn't turn around, who lived in the water mill I kept asking myself. Egan finished what he was doing and left the room, I heard the taps in the bathroom running, I didn't move until he told me to pull my trousers up, he went downstairs, I sat on my bed and cried. I heard Mum come back, I hoped she would come up and find me, I waited and waited. She never came. My own Uncle had raped me, that still feels difficult to say even today, he stole my childhood in one act of wretched violence.

I guess there is always a ying and yang in life, and my life was no exception. I had the evil Uncle who was Egan, then there was my Uncle Terry. Uncle Terry was Mum's twin sister's husband, he was the nicest person in the world, a proper, honest, genuine man, me and Ray loved him. I think as children we both held so high the good things in life, Christmas was a particular favourite time of year, all the good that came with it soon outweighed all the bad that Egan did to us. It wasn't just the presents although that was great, it was the feeling of the loving side of family life, I think this why we are such advocates to Christmas to this very day. I think I can still remember every present I got during the years of abuse, 1975 I had a red Raleigh Chopper, Ray had a purple one, we were the envy of the street, I loved that bike and went everywhere on it. I remember my race'n'chase it was like scalextric, it was awesome, I still have it to this day. Uncle Terry and Auntie Tolly as we called her couldn't have children of their own so me and Ray were often spoilt. Mum and Dad gave us all they could and we loved them for that, they both worked hard, Dad was a factory worker for nearly 30 years and Mum was a cleaner all her life, and only gave up 8 years ago due to poor health. It is fair to say Uncle Terry was good stuff, but tragically he died aged 35 from a brain tumour, me and Ray were distraught, this smashing, decent man had been taken away from us and Egan remained. At that very early age I questioned the very religion we had rammed down our throats as children, if there was a God, why take Uncle Terry who was good, and leave Egan who was evil. I so longed for Egan to have died that day, death to me back then was simple, you went to heaven or went to hell. I knew Uncle Terry went to heaven and he would never have to see Egan again, even when Egan died as he would never make it to heaven.

This photo was taken by Uncle Terry, that's  Ray and Auntie Tolly on the left, and me and Mum on the right. This was a happy day, not long after Ray fell in the pond behind, it was funny, what was funnier was that he went home dressed in a string vest and pants of Uncle Terry's. Behind our smiley faces we hid such secrets, secrets  that no child should ever have to hide, things  that no child should ever have to endure. This was a happy day indeed.

I recall another time, I knew it was a Saturday morning as Tiswas was on, I like most kid's my age loved this show, the chaos, the mess, the fun, it was brilliant, perhaps another escape outlet. Anyhow there I was watching Tiswas eating some sweets that Auntie Tolly had given to me, she was a regular visitor on a Saturday morning as she used to have her hair done at a ladies hair salon just down the road from our house, and she always brought me and Ray treats. Mum had asked Egan to go and get her a bottle of sherry, for whatever reason he went to the off licence across at the shopping precinct across the park and asked me to go with him, I said no, but Mum told me to go, so off we went.
Prior to going to the off licence Egan took a detour to as he put it a friends place, we walked towards some flats, I recognised them as the flat where Egan's friend lived was close to Uncle Terry and Auntie Tolly's flat, this is where I met Burt, Egan's friend, or as later I discovered they were more than just friends. Egan had a key to the flat as he let himself in, Burt smelled of imperial leather talcum powder, he had white hair and gold rimmed glasses, he was an old man probably about 70. Egan then made me stand in the hallway pulled down my trousers and pants and told me to just stand there and not move, I was scared, why were we here. I stood there, I didn't move, I didn't even question why, Egan and Burt disappeared into one of the rooms, I heard shuffling and clicking, but no voices, I seemed to be there for ages, then Egan reappeared. We left the flat and made our way to the off licence, I was puzzled but relieved that he had left me alone, this was one of a couple of similar visits to Burt's it was only many years later the realisation was I was being photographed and recorded. We left the off licence with one bottle of VP sherry, but we didn't go home, Egan decided another detour was needed.

We made our way to the block of flats where Egan and my Gran had lived, Egan went to the flat opposite where he had lived to see an old neighbour, I remember this woman answering the door she had a ginger bee hive hairstyle, we went in, she made him a drink and they started chatting, there was a young boy around my age there, he didn't say much, but then neither did I. I ended up being sent out the back to play on my own, so off I went thinking nothing of it, again many years later there was the scary thought that this boy was alone with Egan, even though his mother was there its possible this poor lad may have suffered abuse, I hope that's not the case. When Egan finally left we then walked into town, my memories are a little vague of where we went next, but we stopped at various places, including houses and a few pub's. We eventually ended up in a telephone box on the site of the Waitrose store where I listened to this drunken creature talking to the Samaritans claiming he was going to commit suicide, I was stood in the box with him as I only had shorts and t-shirt on and I was shivering with the cold, it was just after midnight, we had been gone for over 12 hours. I didn't even know what suicide was, it was this beast that introduced me to it. When he eventually emerged from the phone box he told me to make my own way home and he just walked off. There I was about 7, freezing cold, still carrying a bottle of sherry trying to remember the way home. When I eventually knocked on the front door around 1230 Mum was frantic, she hugged me and asked where on earth I had been, I told her all the places we went to, she was very angry with Egan. She made me a sandwich as I hadn't eaten all day, St Ivel Gold was a new butter it tasted lovely. It was this that enabled the police to date this event.

The following morning we were greeted with the news that Egan had taken an overdose, this was one of three attempts that I remember whilst he lived with us, all pathetic attempts as he survived them all. As a result of this he ended up being referred to a mental hospital called Coney Hill. This place had an awful stigma to it and everyone referred to it as a loony bin, worst still the private ambulance that used to collect him would stop outside our house around the same time as the school bus picked us up, very embarrassing. Egan would stroll out of the house like a schoolboy hop on the bus and off he would go. It was at Coney Hill he met his wife Ann, that just about sums them up I guess, equally inadequate. They both ended up renting a flat in town together, he moved out, my nightmare ended then, I was about 10 years old.

I think it was just before midnight when we had finished at the police station, I think we had been there about 6 hours. I felt relieved, as if a ton weight had been lifted from me, I thanked Sally about a hundred times I think, she was a rock that night. My brother had given his statement to Anthony Black, he became a friend to us and supported us throughout the coming months which were to prove stressful to say the least. I hugged my big brother that night and didn't want to let him go, we never spoke about our experiences, we didn't need to, we had both suffered at Egan's hands, we didn't need to go into detail. This was the night I found out that many years ago my brother told my mother that Egan was abusing him. This was the time Ray was sharing the room with Egan, Ray went missing for a whole day after he told Mum fearing the fall out from her telling Dad and Egan being bounced down the street, he needn't have feared as Mum never told Dad and I was then moved into share with Egan. This was the result of Ray telling someone, that someone failed him and me as a result, and to this day Ray and Mum have a very distant relationship, and I know Ray felt guilty about me now sharing with Egan and being his next target, but Egan was clever and abused us both without either or knowing for many years.

We were contacted a week or so later by Anthony and Sally, the CPS had looked over the case and said there was sufficient evidence to bring charges. Egan was arrested and no surprise denied everything. We weren't surprised by this at all, why would he admit anything, self preservation had kicked in I thought. Not only did he deny all the charges but he tried to paint our family as some form of sexual deviants, the lies were truly awful, just how evil could this man be. My naïve side always hoped that he would just admit to what he had done and we could move on, tell us why he did it? Do paedophiles really know why they cause so much hurt? Do they care? Are they just wired wrong from birth? What could possibly make a man do such a thing, to this day we will all never know the answer to that one. My take on these people has never changed, the way I see it is, if you have a rouge dog that is a danger to people you have it put down, enough said. Egan was released on bail and charged with several counts of rape, indecent assault, buggery, the list went on. Now we had to wait for it to go to court, the thought of that was an absolute nightmare.

A few months went by and the court case was upon us, I had dreaded this moment for so long, the thought of having to stand in a Crown Court and bare my soul to people I have never seen or met before, the thought of having to bare my soul to people I didn't know and had never met before was a bitter pill to swallow. The first morning in court I had this overwhelming sense of guilt. I kept telling myself if Egan gets found guilty he could go to prison. I was so angry for feeling this way, but I just couldn't help it, I was worried what might happen to him, how due to him being a beast how he would be treated in prison. Even all those years later he still had some kind of hold on me, but I reached inside an found that inner strength and battled on. Me and Ray were called in and out of court and kept apart whilst giving evidence, it was an emotional time for us both. Mine and Ray's wife Kathy were in the public gallery for the whole 2 weeks, but left when we came in to give evidence, I couldn't handle her being there, had I have looked at her I may have lost it, although I did breakdown several times, but the whole time I was in the courtroom Egan did not look at me once.

Towards the end of the trial, disaster struck. Due to the jury not being able to reach a decision, and when asked by Judge Tabor QC whether they would be able too, they replied no, so the case was dismissed. But Judge Tabor stated due to the heinous nature of the crimes there had to be a re-trial. After all that we had to wait for months and have to do it all over again, we were devastated. Egan and that side of the family who supported him saw this as a victory, it was hard to stomach. I think it was about 6 months before we had to go back and do it all again, it seemed harder as the raw emotion of the first trial didn't seem to be there. I was worried that perhaps I might not be able to appear genuine in court as I had said my piece before, it was like having a rehearsal beforehand. We did it all again, even though Egan's barrister was only doing his job, I hated him for the way he tried to spin things, but its his job. The verdict came through, 8 years unanimous verdict. We had been vindicated, time to draw a line and move on, or so we thought.

Whilst the court case was going on I threw myself into a business venture with a friend, as we were both keen movie buff's we decided to open up our own video rental shop. Around about the time Egan was sentenced we opened the doors to Movie Zone, it was a hard slog to get it there but we did it. We knew it wouldn't make us millionaires but it was the fact we were doing something we wanted to do, besides it took my mind off other things. I remember one afternoon I was working in the shop when I noticed it was busy with people just looking but not renting. It turned out that two prostitutes had rented the flat above the shop and the clientele so to speak were using the shop as a waiting room. As it happens we got to know the girls they used to pop in and buy old films to watch, in between shifts I guess. To be fair they were nice people, we all have our own reasons and our own stories, who was I judge. I think it was just under a year after the shop opened I was in there one afternoon when Anthony Black came in, what a surprise I said to him. I could see by his expression he came baring bad news, he came behind the counter and we had a chat. The long and short of it was Egan had been released from prison after winning an appeal, I was stunned. All that stress and heartache for nothing, his appeal was granted on a technicality on the judges summing up of the case, because he didn't state clearly enough that the jury should take into consideration the offences were historic, the conviction was quashed. He walked free, claiming his release was due to lies we told. The anger consumed me, I went out way too often, and drank heavily, I was fuelled with hatred and had lost all focus, I was falling apart. One evening I sat outside his flat for hours with a huge kitchen knife, I contemplated confronting him and imagined driving the knife into his heart and ending this whole saga, I cried and thankfully just went home.

Why didn't you tell someone? That was still plaguing me, if I had I wouldn't be here feeling like this right now. When Egan moved out of the family home I thought my nightmare had finished, little did I know it was to continue throughout my life. After ha had gone it was around the time for getting ready for secondary school, there was no way I could tell anyone now as the embarrassment factor had now set in. People would know what went on, I would be treated like a leper. Back in those days "Bum Boy" was the buzz phrase, I couldn't have coped with it, so that part of my life was locked away until that Sunday evening. The pressure of living with it was at times unbearable, it made me hard and insensitive towards the very people who loved me most.

Carol my wife I kind of knew at school, or knew of her, we didn't mix with the same friends, she was a year older than me. My brother Ray was in her year at school and was dating Carol's sister through school, Kath was a year younger than me. If you think that is confusing, I ended up dating Carol a year after leaving school, we married in 1991, Ray and Kath in 1995. When me and Carol got together first I was so worried about how a relationship would be, would I be haunted by ghosts that would effect me. Those ghost were there but Carol turned out to be my rock the connection was solid, I had found my penguin. We enjoyed all the things a new relationships bring, we had our ups and downs but always had each other. We had a really fun weekend in Blackpool with friends in 1988, those friends sadly divorced very messily some years later, some weeks after the Blackpool weekend Carol found out she was pregnant. I was stunned, and found this hard to deal with. I dealt with it very badly indeed.

At no point in my life did I ever see myself having children, it just never entered my head. When I found out I was going to be a Dad I was filled with fear and total dread, how could someone like me have children. How with my history could I do that, what if I was going to abuse my child. I had read book about child abuse over the years and it was a sad reality that some abused people go on to be abusers. I was scared that people may look at me strangely if they knew my past and questioned the way I changed a nappy or such everyday parental jobs, the paranoia at one stage was suffocating.  I knew it wasn't in me to inflict that kind of pain even on my worst enemy, but the fear was there, the fear of the unknown I guess. My way of thinking is anyone who has been abused knows how truly terrible it is, they know how it destroys part of you forever, there is no time limit on it, but only a truly evil person would ever want to put anyone else through that. I reckon I was the opposite and worried about my children all the time, not saying other parents don't, but even to this day when they are both in there 20's I worry when they go out, I do the 3am pick ups, and to be honest I would have it no other way. My children have given me every happiness, they are beautiful, intelligent grounded young woman and I love them more than life itself.

Part of me never recovered from the fact Egan had been released from prison, I was angry that the system had let us down, I felt we had been betrayed, but worst of all it was the fact it felt as if people maybe hadn't believed us. I couldn't really keep my life on an even course from that point I went out more often that normal looking for something to ease my pain. My solace wasn't to be at the bottom of glass but in the arms of other women. I had a loving family and the love of a great woman yet abused her trust and seemed to go on a one man mission of self destruction. At no time was I looking for a replacement for my wife, I wasn't looking for love, part of me felt I had to prove something to myself, what I do not know, as stupid as that sounds, truthfully I was looking for something to numb out the horrible things I had racing around in my head. I loved my wife but at times didn't even feel guilty about what I was doing, I hurt so many people with lies and deceit it totally consumed me for years. This may seem a pathetic excuse but this was how it was for me, it became an addiction I couldn't control.

Towards the end of the 90's I felt as if I needed a radical change in my life, I had been an employee of Royal Mail for nearly 14 years at this point so I thought new job, move house and a fresh start to the new millennium. Work wise I didn't really know what to do as I had no real skills other than working with people, it was purely by chance that I ended up joining the prison service. Even today I don't know why I chose this of all jobs, perhaps naively I thought I had something to offer, perhaps I could help make a change. It was a long laborious recruiting process, but there I was off to college about to embark on a new career, it was an exciting time but also one filled with intrepidation. I always had the worry of coming into contact with child sex offenders, but the prison I applied to was a non sex offender establishment, these types of prisoner are normally held in units that cater just for them, but much to my dismay this would ultimately change.

2006 was a bad year for me, my Dad who had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for a couple of years had started to deteriorate very quickly. Isn't it a strange thing the instant panic you get when the phone rings at 2 am. I fumbled around for the phone on the bedside cabinet, on the end of it was my Mum in a state of panic. Col, your Dad has fallen over and I cant get him up, I was dressed and at my folks place within minutes, my poor Dad was flat on his back, distressed and unable to move. Due to the Parkinson's Dad was as flexible as a plank of wood, but I managed to get him into bed, he had a cut to his head where he hit the door frame when he fell, I got him comfortable and after an hour went back home, I couldn't sleep at all. First thing I was back and decided to get the doctor out, within an hour Dad was in hospital, for the GP said was for a bit of R&R and a change of medication, the following weeks were to be the worst ever.

It was a Sunday lunchtime and we were just in the process of sitting down to Sunday lunch, it was the hospital telling me Dad had taken a turn for the worst and I should come quickly and prepare for the worst. When we arrived I thought we were too late, Dad had pipes and tubes everywhere and what seemed to be dozens of nurses and doctors working on him. The staff stabilised him but he was very poorly, I stayed with him afraid to leave really, it was at that moment after reading through his notes I noticed he had not eaten for nearly nine days, I was shocked with the amount of entries in his file stating, "food refused". I cant remember being so incensed by something, I screamed and shouted at NHS management on the fact my Dad had nearly died due to malnutrition, their apologies seemed vague and insincere so I thought for all people like my Dad I would take this further. I went to the local press, the national press which then led to radio coverage which further led to Age Concern contacting me for my story, which to them was all to familiar. A week or so later I was contacted by the BBC and invited to participate in a programme about the issue of how elderly people are treated in hospitals it was a real eye opener, I interviewed ministers, doctors, nurses and visited hospitals who had managed to change the way they care for elderly patients when it comes to food, I now realise how much work go's into such programmes, it was draining.

Thanks to a considerate boss at the time I took a period of time off work to care for my Dad whilst he was in hospital, I felt I had lost faith in the hospital he was in, I came to the hospital at 8am and stayed for at least 12 hours until he was settled for the night, the NHS hierarchy hated me being the there, the nurses loved it, they were brilliant and applauded my cause. Within a few days Dad was a lot fitter and sat up in bed and chatting, when I asked him why he had refused food for all those days he told me he didn't, they would bring in his tray of food and leave it, he was to poorly to feed himself, this got put down as food refused. It still saddens me to hear of such stories in the news 5 years down the line, the promises of politicians were of the pie crust type, easily made, easily broken. Dads Parkinson's took a turn for the worse in early 2007 and he passed away, I was distraught and to this day still miss him dearly.

This is a favourite photo of mine taken just a year before he died a fantastic fella who has left a big gap in my life that's for certain, but hey Pop's I know we will meet up again one day.

It was about a year after Dad died, about 2008 that the prison I worked in became an establishment that would now hold and deal with child sex offenders, amongst other rather unpleasant individuals. I knew I would struggle, but felt trapped with nobody to turn too, the day loomed for the influx of around 300 vulnerable prisoners as they are tagged, I wanted to shout and scream at somebody and tell them how unfair it was that I now had to deal with people like my uncle on a daily basis. Staff were not consulted or trained to cope with it, there were tough times ahead.

Everything was running like clockwork, they were arriving myself and my work mates were doing the initial processing, it was fine no dramas until one afternoon. I was talking to a prisoner who was a child sex offender explaining what we were doing with regards to his property, due to the nature of his offence he was not allowed photos of children, I explained why quite clearly, his response was one that shook me to the core, "I didn't fuck my kids", he calmly stated. He didn't seem to see any wrong in the response he had just given me, none whatsoever. I felt a deep rage booming inside me, I was scared of what could happen, thankfully a colleague was close by and walked me to a back office to calm down. I knew at that moment I had issues with this kind of person, and now I was going to be surrounded by them at work daily. I was so upset I had to leave work early, I went home and contemplated my next move, I had to tell work about my issues, that in itself terrified me.

I became very tired, withdrawn, very moody as things really started to compound me, all those mixed emotions and frustrations were bubbling inside, I really felt that I couldn't cope with it all anymore so I was signed off with stress and anxiety later to be topped with bouts of depression. I decided to talk to the OT at work, Sue was to be my life line, I went to see her and told her everything, she was superb, she listened and most importantly understood me. She referred me to Hilary, what a smashing lady she was she too listened to me and helped me to deal with the past and try and move on from it, but whilst she helped for a while I still had to face these monsters every single day. I guess it was towards the tail end of 2009 when I was seeing Hilary, they were really tough times. While driving home from Hilary's one afternoon feeling quite emotional as it was a bit of tough session I had a phone call from Anthony Black, he dealt me a blow that winded me, I had to pull off the motorway and sat in stunned disbelief with news he had just given me, I was truly wrecked with it.

I was sat in a motorway service station staring blankly at an advertisement billboard, I cant remember what was on it but it was colourful, there is no easy way to tell you said Anthony, Egan has been arrested for child sex offences, again they were historic acts dating back to the late 90's against a lad me and Ray did not know, but Egan used to watch whilst his Mum was at work. I felt sick to my stomach and struggled to listen to anymore that Anthony was saying. How could this be happening, I was finding things difficult because of my years of abuse and the clientele I was now dealing with at work, I had just found the courage to seek help through work and on the very day I had a counselling session for my childhood abuse, I receive this news. Anthony went on to ask to meet with me and Ray as he had a question to ask us, we made arrangements to see him a few days later.

Me and Ray went to the Police station and met Anthony, he took us into an interview room, we had a cuppa and a bit of catch up and then he asked us if we would allow our statements which we gave at Egan's trial in 1994 to be read out in court. He explained to us that the law now allowed bad character evidence to be used in such cases, it shows a propensity for such behaviour which a jury can take into account. I was very uncertain about it to begin with, I was unsure I could handle all this again, but me and Ray chatted and thought we had to help this unknown lad hopefully get the justice we didn't, so we agreed. Before we left Ray pulled from a bag he had brought with him five or six old reel tapes at least half were boxed, I remember seeing Kodak written on two of the boxes. Ray told us that he had found these some years ago in my parents attic when they moved out of our old family home, he stated that they had been carefully placed between some beams. I had flashbacks of the many times I saw Egan going into the attic, even at this point it had not dawned on me what the tapes contained. Anthony looked a little stunned as he shuffled through the tapes, four were audio and two were cine films, for a brief moment I thought wow, these could contain us as children being silly like we used too, then Anthony warned us they may contain something a little more sinister, we were floored with that. But things were to take an unexpected turn for the worst for us.

After speaking with Sue and her being aware of how difficult I was finding things at work now. the reality facing me now was that if Egan was convicted at this trial there was a real chance that he would come to the very prison I worked in, I was terrified of this, so I had to inform other people, some of those other people being managers. It was awful telling other people at work, I felt ashamed and perhaps I would now be seen in there eyes as unfit to carrying on with my job, Jean my union rep was great, I told her as she is one of the few people I trust at work, she was fantastic and offered a shoulder when I needed one. I think work were unsure as to what to do with me so I found myself being offered a job within the prison but without any prisoner contact. Basically I became a bit of an office dweller, now whilst this was very busy I found the work very very tedious, but the office was another place to meet new people, people who I often passed by without much more than a polite hello, there were mainly woman in the office and I found myself drawn into the middle of lots of bitching and sniping, it was very bizarre, but kind of fun too. I knew this new position wouldn't be a permanent fixture, but whilst the court case in 2010 was in full swing it was an easier place to be without being face to face with prisoners, I really could not have handled that at that time. I managed just over 2 years in this office based job and I got to a point where I began to hate it, it was a draining place with too many strong characters fighting for something that just wasn't there. I left there in April 2012 and was basically thrown back to the wolves, it was a nightmare.

Our statements were given to the court as part of the case now against Egan, we knew we had done the right thing, now we could sit back and see what happens, or so we thought. A week or so later Anthony contacted us yet again and said whilst the judge in this new case was happy for the statements to be used, he would only allow it if we went back to court and read them ourselves, which really meant going through the whole court process for a third time. This was like a kick in the stomach for us, yet again we had to rake all of our past up and face this creature again, but again we knew we had to go through it as although we didn't know the person involved in this case we had heard he was in a bad way and in a very dark place, we had been there and in all essence still were there, we had to try and get some closure hopefully once and for all, but things in my world were never going to be that simple. I think it was around this time we found out that the tapes Ray had found had been analysed by experts, I think four of the tapes were useless, they had degraded over time, but the other two were shocking, so bad I refused to listen to them or read the transcripts taken from them, Ray confirmed the voices on the tape. Egan had recorded some of the abuse for his own sick gratification. I had flashbacks again to the times at Burt's flat when I stood there naked and heard clicking and shuffling noises, Jesus, had I been filmed and recorded? The times I cried when he did the things he did, did he film me? Egan was more evil than I ever really thought, how could he have done this to us.

The day of the trial seemed to arrive so quickly, I think I was more worried and scared this time than before, I was now 42 years of age, but part of me was still that small 5 year old boy. There were times when I used to think I could go back in time and tell that small boy that everything would be ok, it would soon be over, that would have been true of the physical abuse, but the mental scars would be there forever. Me and Ray were sat in a waiting room at the court, nervously talking about everyday things when Anthony Black came into see us and give his support, although he wasn't the investigating officer in this new case he wanted to be there for us, and that was a big help. We never got to meet the victim in this case, but the investigating officer on the case that brought the case against Egan this far came into tell us this guy was eternally grateful for what we had done, she said he too was scared and anxious, we passed on our best wishes to this nameless guy and just said be brave, it takes a brave person to get this far. As the days went by we sat in that room whilst people took there turn in the witness box, for us it was like that horrible wait in the dentist's waiting room, one day when it was our turn to start giving evidence Egan feigned an illness so the court was adjourned, we had to go home, but we were soon back. A court official came into the waiting room, Ray Haskins please, Ray got up and followed the man out, I was now alone. I had been told that I would not be able to talk to Ray again until I had given my evidence, Ray was called in at 10 am, I didn't see him again for the rest of the day.

The local paper had been reporting Egan's trial from the onset, they knew me and Ray were involved somehow, although they weren't allowed to name us as we had anonymity, they made reference to Egan being on trial in 1994, I remember they reported on it back then too. Well here I was again sat in the court waiting room, I didn't even remember the drive to it, within minutes of being there that same court clerk dressed in his long black cape came in and announced, Colin Haskins, why he said this I don't know as I was the only person in there, but I guess that's how it works. We walked along a cold stony corridor which had many big wooden doors along the way, then we stopped outside one, Court Room 3 was pained in gold letters on this huge door, he open it and in we went.

My heart was beating so fast, I was sweating, I reached for my hankie to wipe my brow, the court looked so much smaller than I remember, but it was full of people, people I didn't know. The jury were to my right, then there was the judge, the place just seemed to be packed with people, obviously all there for a purpose, then I spotted him, there he was, there was Egan sat just over to my left, he looked small and unkempt, above all he looked old. I went through the formalities, swearing in, confirming who I was etcetera, then it began. Mr Fenny QC for the prosecution was a real nice guy, he met with me and Ray earlier in the week and explained what was going to happen, but we seemed old hands at this case. He asked me lots of questions about my experiences with Egan, my toes were hurting where I was cringing when answering, I felt so embarrassed. Then Mr O'Brien the defence barrister grilled me, this was worse than I could remember it being, I was made to feel like a liar, a fake, my family was painted as dysfunctional and what angered me most was the fact they tried to paint my Dad in a bad light, nothing was further than the truth. I looked over at Egan trying to catch his gaze so he could see how angry I was, he didn't look my way once, I felt destroyed by the cross examination, I looked at the jury once and saw a young woman crying, I couldn't look again, I spent most of the time looking at my shoes, it was a tough time and something I would be in no hurry to repeat. When I was finished being questioned, the judge thanked me and wished me well, I turned and left and took one final look at the jury, the young woman there smiled, I looked away and left the court room, that was over at last.

I met with Ray outside the court and we went home, we had done our part and did not want to wait around for anything, we didn't say much in the car, but decided to stop at a pub on the way home to have a pint. We sat there looked at each other, sipped on our drink and that was it, we just talked and talked about the 2 weeks we had just endured again at court, I think we were glad we had helped the unknown chap and were thinking more of him than the outcome of the trial, whatever that was to be. We left the pub feeling good, but so so tired. Egan's fate was now in the hands of those 12 jurors, I couldn't help but think of that young woman who was upset, I hoped she would be ok. I think it was a day or so later I had a call from the female police woman who was in charge of this new case, guilty on all charges she proclaimed. She was quite excited to be the bearer of good news, I thanked her for the news and her help throughout the trial and clicked my mobile off and just sat in my living room absorbing what I had just heard, I wasn't elated and didn't scream and shout, I had again a sense of vindication, we had been believed, those 12 members of the jury had heard our stories and believed us, that brings such a sense of relief. We could now and try to rebuild our lives and move on, this to this day proves to be difficult, but for now we could rest knowing justice had been done. Egan was going to jail he couldn't hurt us anymore.

The court case was finally over and the right result had been reached for all, so it was time for us to move on with life. Work had been pretty good to me up until this point, now that Egan had gone to prison they kind of switched off the caring employer side and were anxious for me to get back to normal, the post I had in the office was now being axed so I was left to make the decision to move back to normal duties, but the thought of working with paedophiles and sex offenders wasn't something I was looking forward too, my plea's to slide into a job that gave me a gradual return back were ignored and basically I was just thrown back in the deep end, I resented them for this. I started back on normal officer duties in April 2012 and have basically tried to stay focused ever since, it has been extremely difficult in an ever changing job which to a person without my history would struggle, every day is hard and it has become very tiring just being me, the guy who always has a smile on his face, who likes to act the clown, but inside feels like screaming, it is so tough.

About a year after being convicted I was contacted at work by Anthony Black with the news that Egan had been granted leave for appeal, although I think it was expected it hit me for six. How could he dare even think of doing this, he was 100% guilty of the crimes and yet again was trying to play the hard done by and innocent victim. To be honest this is a familiar trait with most prisoners in particular sex offenders, they don't believe what they have done is wrong, and I guess its a self preservation instinct to protect themselves no matter what. Egan went to the appeal courts in London in 2011 and the basis of the appeal was the historic evidence that was given by me and Ray, his legal team stated this was at a detriment to his case. Can you believe that crap? Thankfully to my relief the residing appeal court judge threw the appeal out and sent Egan back to prison to serve his sentence, at last common sense prevailed, time to move on, even the police were pleased with this outcome.

I have learnt quite a few things over the years with regards to sexual abuse and the main thing being survivors of sexual abuse live their lives in the face of massive shame. Survivors face shame that they "allowed themselves" to be demeaned and weakened, I questioned myself over this time and again over the years, again coming back to that same old question, "Why didn't you tell someone". Over the last year I have tried my best to cope with things on every level, work is still an on-going struggle for me, there are times I just find it hard to cope with certain prisoners, thankfully my professionalism keeps me in check, but I have come close to snapping at times and this does worry me. I am more than aware that people have to move on from such traumatic events, but when faced daily with people who constantly remind you of the horrible things you endured is difficult, but I am still having therapy and am on medication to help, but this in itself makes me angry as I still feel like a victim all these years later.

Sue my very dear friend who I first confided in at work has always been there for me. She was a victim of the public sector cuts and left the service during 2012, and thankfully moved on to better things. Sue contacted me when the whole Jimmy Savile saga started in the news. When this story first broke, I quivered. I knew what was to come. And come it did. Story after tragic story, being told by adults, who inside are still children, terrified of a man now dead. You see, when you think about the things you have kept locked away, your not a rationale grown up. In that moment you are back where you were, a vulnerable, frightened child. it was good to talk to her as I felt I couldn't escape the whole child abuse nightmare, work was always a constant reminder, watching the news when home was the same, I feel suffocated at times, it seems to surround me. I decided it was time to and chat again with my GP, I am lucky I have a good relationship with Dr Flynn, he helped me through this in the 90's, he is a great bloke. We talked over the issues I was facing, the way I was still feeling, he thought talking to a professional again might help, so he referred me to a unit in my home town.

Mental health? Wow, how ignorant am I when it comes to this subject. Dr Flynn referred me to a CPN to have a chat about my life and how I was feeling. I was mortified at the thought, I wasn't mad I kept telling myself. I sat in the car park of Challing's Lodge, staring at this new building, scared to go in not due to what I wanted to talk about, but the stigma attached to going here frightened me. I kept thinking back to Egan and his visits to Coney Hill. Oh my God I kept repeating, why am I here. I know I have made big steps in my life and this was just another step to make, so in I went. I sat in a small waiting area for Chris the lady I was seeing to call me through. There was a woman also waiting who in my ignorance I classed as a loon as she was sat talking to herself, this again made me scared of where I was. I didn't have time to get up and go as Chris was there, she lead me to her room which was very relaxing, two big chairs in front of a window which overlooked a very pretty garden. Her first question to me was, how do you feel about being here at Challing's Lodge? My response was immediate, I don't think I should be here, I am not mad, only nutter's come here I sadly claimed. Chris smiled and declared she had heard this response a million times before. We had a great chat after that, my ignorance towards mental health I must admit has changed somewhat, everyone has there own story after all. I have been referred for further assessment's and still awaiting that to come through, I was prescribed medication to help calm me down and help me chill a little, I have been on it for around two months now and must admit to feeling a lot more relaxed. I will update as and when this moves forward. In my other stuff tab there are some of the major things that effect children who have suffered child abuse, it is quite shocking and very sad.

Christmas 2012 has been and gone, and what a great time we had at home, despite only having Christmas Day off the rest was spoiled by work, my employer appears to be the Grinch when it comes to allowing staff time off at what is a very special time of year to me. 2012 just seems to have whizzed by, I think I perhaps say the same thing every year, but time seems to be galloping along. Today is New Years Eve and whilst my daughters are getting ready to go out and party, me and Carol are having a quiet evening with a friend, my days of New Year partying and revelling seemed to have long since gone, I am beginning to sound like my Dad at times. Today at work was an ok day to begin with, but during the afternoon things took a slight turn which ended in me almost exploding, one of the very situations that I dread. A prisoner was talking to some colleagues regarding an article he had published in a newspaper for prisoners, he offered the paper to me to read his letter, I read the article and became incensed with rage, I sat clutching the paper with white knuckles, I couldn't have been more angry if I had tried. The letter was basically one sex offender supporting other sex offenders, he declared how outraged he was that historic sexual abuse cases were ever heard and there should be a statute of limitation on such cases. Its just pathetic wannabes who are jumping on the band wagon, looking for compensation, if people endure this type of stuff speak up or shut up, these rants were based around the Jimmy Saville allegations, but all such cases are equally as ridiculous he went on to say.........I feel angry even now later today just thinking about it. How do I move on from it all with this crap in front of me every single day....Argggghhhhhh !!!!!!!!
Well today was a strange day indeed, first week of Jan 2013 and a meeting was held at work by senior managers which was to inform us of the closure of six prisons and the reduction in prisoner places in another three. As a result of these closures there is the very sad news that many of my professional colleagues around the country will be cast aside like an old rag, thanks and goodbye is pretty much the basics of it. This whole debacle is due to government convincing the public that they have to find more cost effective ways to run prisons, prisons by there very nature are a powder keg at times, places that are full of the type of people that nightmares are made of, its impossible to do this on the cheap without serious consequence to both prisoners and staff, shame on you coalition, shame on you. One of the prisons that has been announced for closure is where Egan is being held, these prisons are due to close in the next two months, the reality for me is that Egan could land in the prison I work in any day now. I think if I had people to express my concerns too, they would be met with contempt now due to impending job losses, so once again I fear I am going to have to suffer in silence.  

While the physical pain fades in time, the scars of child abuse never fade. Children are never the same again after an abuser has entered their lives, they loose not only the innocence of childhood, but also the chance at a normal future. One cannot erase the memories of abuse, they live in conscious and the subconscious, invading every aspect of ones life. Child abuse victims are given a life sentence, forced to live in the shadows of their abusers. It has been a strange week at work, the announcement of 7 prison closures has caused a strange excitement with staff, the chance to take voluntary redundancy, this day and age it seems odd people looking to dump a job, but it really speaks volumes to me. I have been working the past few weeks in a prison workshop for vulnerable prisoners, predominately sex offenders, this shop seems to be filled with needy, whining creatures, four in particular feel a need to talk to me, although being professional at all times, I give the impression I am listening, but I am so not interested in them, there problems, there issues or anything. One in particular feels the need to try and impress me with his apparent wealth and fortune, his affluent and supportive family and the many businesses they own. He has lead me to believe he has been imprisoned unjustly due to drug related offences, it didn't take me long to find out he was a rapist, very nasty one at that, but just another example of these creatures trying to convince themselves of how hard done by they are. If only he knew just how little I think of him, how much I detest him in fact, one of these days I think I maybe just a little truthful, its brewing that's for certain.

Today I went to see Chris at Channings Lodge, I had less intrepedation about this visit than the last one a few months ago. I arrived a little early and sat in the waiting area browsing the web on my mobile phone, a middle aged couple came in and immediately I realised they had mental health issues shall we say, last time there were similar folks in there and it made me cringe, not today, who was I to judge them, we all have our own stories after all. They were quite child like in there chat about there journey on the bus to Channings, it made me smile, in a warm way not a patronising one. Chris came out and called me through, a big beaming smile and warm welcome, we went into a room to have a chat. Unlike last time things were really positive, I have been on the anti-depressants for a few months now and to be honest they have lifted me from knees and given me the focus I needed to deal with everything around me, suddenly things seem a little easier to bare. We had a chat and the good news for me was I know longer have to see Chris, this a positive step for me, happy days indeed. 

I have been asked by a few people recently where does the nickname Ollie come from? Well its a daft story really, but when at secondary school I was a little rotund shall we say, and a lad I became friends with a lad called Steve Salmon, he was the total opposite being rake thin. Then came a lad called "Bell", a total dick who I had no time for to be fair, but the nickname came from him, I was fat Steve was thin, Stan and Ollie, as simple as that. When I joined the Prison Service I ditched the nickname as I wanted to leave it behind, only recently a couple of close friends from work have used it, old school mates no me by nothing else. A sad fact being Steve is currently in prison, sentenced about a year or so ago for sexual offences against an under age girl, that came as a real shock, although we never really kept in contact much after school, we did have some laughs back then, I guess you never know how folks will turn out in later life. I don't really see much of the old gang, some of them drifted off the radar many years ago, some seemed to nose dive into a life of drink and drugs, that I found hard to swallow when I met up with another good school friend a few years back, "Morph" as he was known as was the same age as me, but his lifestyle had aged him by 10 years or more, that was a shock. I guess there is also a reason why you don't see some people, purely because you just don't want to. Ali Fraser, he was my best friend through school and still to this day we keep in contact, we live close and often have a catch up over a coffee, he is a top bloke, a real nice fella, we shared many good times as we grew up. Ali didn't know anything about the years of abuse when it was happening even though we were mates at the time, but he knows now and has been a good ally. Even though I don't see the old gang from school I hope they are happy and content in life no matter what they are doing.

Today 25th Jan 2013 has been tinged with sadness to be fair, I had a phone call from my wife at work today which upset me a little, but news I kind of knew was coming. When growing up me and Ray had a handful of friends who we still keep in contact with today, Ali being one and another was Marty, he was, he is a nice guy, slightly jaded outlook on life perhaps, but not a bad man. Back in September 2012 Marty text me whilst I was away in Cumbria taking a break with Carol. We were in the middle of Lake Windermere on a boat when the message arrived, Marty was in trouble, there was no signal to enable me to ring him right back, but I did as soon as we hit dry land. Marty had fallen foul at work, he has worked in retail since leaving school and for the past 10 years has worked for a major chain in the town, to cut a long story short he has been stealing from that store and selling items on ebay. I was gobsmacked, but what was done was done, when I was back from holiday I found a solicitor for him to use, I couldn't believe how he naïve he was to the whole thing. Today Marty was sent to prison, that was call from Carol, whilst I knew it would happen it still shook me, I feel sad for my friend, I immediately thought of school day times when despite my secrets life seemed carefree, its funny really we just don't know what is around the corner, we just don't always know the people we call friends, but despite his wrong doing Marty is still a friend and I just hope he can cope with prison, stay strong Marty.
Sunday 27th January, my baby daughters 21st birthday, God where has the time gone, I remember holding her for the very first time, she was so small, so precious, I though I might break her. I used to talk to both of my girls before they were born, Carol would be lay on the bed, or sat on the sofa, I used to put my head against her tummy to hear them, feel them kick, I used to talk to them, daft things most likely, but it was my bonding. There she was this small bundle of life, my heart melted, I cried when she was born, I couldn't help it, it just happened. My years as a Prison Officer have made me perhaps a little more over protective of my girls, I see the most ordinary looking men every day that have committed crimes that would leave you cold. Watching your children grow is one of best experiences one could ever be part of. It's not only children who grow, we as parents do too, and as much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is try reach for it, myself. I think I am still trying to reach it to be honest, but hey life is no race I guess.
I was supervising vulnerable prisoners in the chapel today, I questioned the very nerve of them being in church knowing the evil things some of them had done, it makes me feel cold to the core. Could God really accept these people, could he forgive them for the wickedness they had done? I prayed to God when I was a little boy, I prayed he would save me, take me from the hands of Egan. He never came. As I got older me and religion kind of parted company, that was tough for me as religion was a big part of my upbringing. I couldn't stop thinking of Marty my friend today, I wandered how he was coping with prison, I know him and know he will be struggling, I spoke with his wife today and she is in pieces as are their children. I will do what I can to help them out, after all, that's what friends are for, right? Well bed beckons, an early start tomorrow in the house of sin, I am thinking of Marty, good night friend.

This is a work in progress please bare with me. To be continued.

 Find Ollie Orkins HERE   


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