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The caged bird sings

This is a space where you can hear different voices; our staff and volunteers who have kept the Centre going over the last 40 years, our friends, colleagues and supporters from across the violence against women sector, and people who have used our services and want to share their experiences.

Becci's story

In the past I had been scared to speak up about the abuse that I suffered and about what happened when I finally told someone about it and everything that entailed. I was scared to make people uncomfortable, I was scared that they would tell me just to be quiet because they didn’t want to think about it, they didn’t want to think that everyday someone out there, male, female, transgender, child, or adult, was experiencing and going through the massive betrayal that is sexual abuse. Then I thought to myself how utterly messed up that was, how are we meant to change the world and make it better for the next generation if we are scared to speak up? So here I am; I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I do not care how uncomfortable that knowledge makes you, you can stop reading now or you can continue but it will not change the simple fact that the man I share half of my genes with sexually abused me for 5 years of my childhood, the man that was meant to protect me. I am not scared any more, this is my story.

The abuse started when I was 8 years old, I was at my dad’s house with my elder brother and sister, my sister was out and my brother, dad and I were playing monopoly. I remember that I was losing, and I am a really bad loser so I was being made fun of by my brother then my dad picked me up in a jokey way and carried me out of the room, he took me into his room and stopped in front of a mirror and then he started to touch my early developing breasts through my top. I remember that I was frozen in fear, I knew it was wrong and I felt sick to my stomach but I was scared to move and scared to shout out, I just wanted it to be over and to get away.
This continued for the next 5 years until I was 13. During this period my entire personality changed and all I wanted was it to stop but I was scared to tell someone, what would I do if I told someone and they didn’t believe me? What if it got worse? I knew that someone needed to know, so when I was 10-11 years old, I wrote a letter to a magazine help page but before I could post it, my sister and mum found it. They questioned me about it but I clammed up and denied everything, I said it must have been someone else’s. I was terrified about what would happen if I told them it was me that had wrote that letter so I lied.
It wasn’t until I was 13 years old that I felt ready to tell someone. At first it was my best friend and another really close friend that I told. They were both such a massive support to me at that time and assured me that they were there for me and they were, they talked about it with me when I needed to but they also tried to build me up to tell an adult, to get it to stop. If it wasn’t for those two friends, I’m not sure I would have ever worked up the courage to tell someone so if they are reading this; thank you so much for being there for me at a time when I felt I had no-one.
The day that I told an adult for the first time started out as just a normal school day, I was in R.E., my teacher had got a pastor that she knew to come in to talk to us about something, I can’t remember exactly what it was but there was just something that clicked inside me. I knew then that I had to tell someone and that I had to tell them that day. Morning break came and I let my friends know that I was ready but I was unsure how to go about it, one of my friends said to tell our guidance teacher but I was nervous so they said they would go with me and so we went to the guidance office, my teacher took me into a separate room and I told her everything.
That triggered a whole host of events; telling my mum, meeting two amazing women - the police officer that would be in charge of my case and a social worker - and having my statement taken,
stopping seeing my dad and going to countless meetings with guidance, the police, hospital appointments to get checked over to check that I hadn’t been raped as there was periods in time that I had no recollection of, and with the social work department. Then a few months later they took my dad in for questioning and he denied everything; it was my word against his and the police could do nothing. A few months after that I ended up meeting with a lawyer to get a restraining order as I was receiving messages weekly from him, I’m pretty sure that he did it just to scare me but I now knew how to deal with it. I got my restraining order against him and then there was finally silence.
It was around about this time that my mum decided to let my siblings know what was happening, and this was when one of my sisters came forward and said that he had done the same thing to her. This was the break that the police needed and they were able to finally charge him and the process of taking it to court was started. I had my statement taken by a lawyer, had to identify him in a line up at a police station, and I had to go through the process of preparing for a court case as he was still denying everything. There were about 4 plea hearings, the first 3 I attended and the judge had to keep postponing as he was avoiding getting a psychological review. By the 4th plea hearing I had decided that I was missing too much school and that the same thing was just going to happen again so I wasn’t attending. It was then that he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years total of jail time and probation and he was to be added to the sex offenders register.
In the years after I struggled a lot with uncontrollable anger, confusion on how I felt towards my dad, feelings of being out of control and having no-one that I felt understood me. This led to me trying to overdose on pain medications multiple times which never worked, after one particular time my mum caught me counting my stash and took them off of me. Without my tablets I struggled to cope even more and it was then that I realised I needed to get professional help. I went to my doctors and they referred me to a counsellor.
With my counsellor I was able to tell my story; I had someone who listened to me, who was willing and able to help me sort through my problems, and who I trusted. We worked through my anger and trust issues and she helped me realise that it was OK to have those feelings but she taught me more effective and safer ways to deal with my feelings rather than taking tablets. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t believe I would be here today. Over the next 9 years until now I have struggled but I have been able to build a life I am proud of and now I am training to be a counsellor myself and am looking into being more active in bringing awareness to sexual assault, abuse and rape and helping fellow survivors.

I don’t believe that I’ll ever be ‘over’ the abuse I suffered and I have lost many family members over it but with the support of professionals, my family, and my friends, I have been able to heal from it and now most days I don’t even think about it. I will not give someone else that power to nearly destroy me again, I am a fighter and I will always fight.

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