As a voluntary visitor of some fifteen years, I have recently had the harrowing experience of hearing about the traumatic abuse of a very vulnerable adult now in her sixties. It is the first time she felt she could trust someone with her story.
Her doctor persuaded her that she was a writer and only she could tell her story. I persuaded her that if she was capable of writing it down, it would be a kind of catharsis. When she phoned me to tell me that she had used pages from the exercise books I’d bought for her; that she wanted me to collect them at once and “…please get them out of my house…I never want to see them again…” I went to see at once, and spent over an hour trying to calm her and convince her that her story needed to be told – as she wanted, so that others might gain strength from her experiences.
Her story is heartbreaking to read. Most of the perpetrators are dead, although some family members are still alive, and for this reason the victim divulges no names. The fact that the main perpetrator was her mother’s brother and that the abuse started in the victim’s cot adds to the horror, but that that violation was never acknowledged by the victim’s family who blamed her; vilified her; and told her that she was ugly; that she smelled foul, and that no one would believe her – adds to the nightmare.
As in a recent BBC documentary, children have the right to expect their family to protect them – not be the abusers whose abuse destroys any chance of them ever entering into any kind of adult relationship; especially when that abuse persists – even into the victim’s teens, and precipitates their seeking freedom by opting to go to a college far from the home in the hope that the abuse will end.
This is yet another story of a child abused, traumatised and victimised by those who should have been her champions. There was no one there to help her stand tall, yet she did manage to forge a career as a librarian until ill health forced her early retirement. Now she is the broken victim of the state benefit system, but trying to maintain her independence and dignity as best she can while coping with local authority bureaucracy.