Loneliness and fear are emotions felt by many from time to time. However, LSJ News spoke to a young woman for whom these emotions are a little too familiar.
“Michelle”* experienced sexual abuse by a family member from a young age for six horrifying years. She talks to LSJ about her past and the hold that that it still has on her.
“He wouldn’t even say anything, he’d just do it and then leave again. I wouldn’t say anything because I wouldn’t know what to do.”
“I didn’t understand how my mum didn’t know. She would come upstairs when I’d just got out the bath, and I’d just be sat on the floor like looking at myself in the mirror. She wouldn’t know what was wrong with me and I just wouldn’t talk to her.”
“It was my coping mechanism.”
Statistics by the NSPCC show that nearly a quarter of young adults have experienced sexual abuse in their childhood. SAVI (Sexual Abuse Victims Initiative) was set up to give abused individuals somewhere to turn to for help.
SAVI’s founder Annmarie Campbell says that help is now out there for those who feel alone.
“We are beginning to use things like Skype to talk to people because services are so rare. We also help via telephone and email with information and advice. And if we can, if there are adult services that may help the children in their area then we signpost and help them engage with them too.”
Michelle believes that this sort of help is vital in aiding the recovery of a victim.
“I think it’s great that people are going to have somewhere to go. Personally I didn’t feel like I had anybody to talk to or anywhere that I could get away.”
“I worry all the time that the person that I might have children with is not going to be doing those things. And because I used to look out for my little sister as well I feel like i’d always look at the way he was holding her.”
Michelle hopes that with more awareness, people will have the oppurtunity that she never had to speak out.
(*For the sake of protecting her identity, LSJ has used the fictional name: Michelle)