Even Good Things can Turn Bad

November 22, 2016


I’m thinking about my childhood, sort of. More skittering away from nasty parts of my childhood, and so not really thinking about it at all. There is a lot of talk about child sexual abuse lately, with the Royal Commission and so on. I can read about it and not feel touched at all because my sexual abuse as a child wasn’t like that at all. I wasn’t in an institute being abused by a priest or a teacher.

But abuse is abuse. Nasty adult things being done to a very young child is evil, no matter who is doing it. My mind tries to pretend it has nothing to do with me, but of course, even if I can say my abuse was not that abuse, I am a member of Australian society and these things affect us all. It’s the people who refuse to have anything to do with things, and ignore things that are also complicit in the abuse to some extent.

I feel I have played a small part in raising awareness about child abuse, especially child sexual abuse, through my writing of the Poetry Collection that has the same name as this blogsite. I wrote the poems, I collected them together, I paid for the printing of the book, and I did a little bit about marketing the book.

The book was published quite a few years ago now though around the beginning of the 21st century. My little book hasn’t stopped anyone from being abused, it hasn’t lead to the arrest and charging of any sex abusers. I don’t think it was ever really going to do those things anyway. My abuser died many, many years ago, with no-one ever knowing of his abuse apart from me.

I’m OK, I’m living a good life, with a good marriage and a fine son. I can pretend I was never abused. Well I could, but of course some things just stay there, in your head, in your life, even though they may not be the main thing. I’m no super dooper book seller, but this little Poetry Collection “damaged children, Precious Gems” is for sale in a cafe I spend a lot of time in. I’ve spoken to various people there, about sexual abuse, and signed and sold copies of the book.

At the cafe there is a group that meets once a week. We are all women who have been damaged in some ways in our past by men. This group, called Precious Gems, don’t talk about the bad things, but the good things that are happening now. Being with these wonderful women is a wonderful thing, and I’m so glad that we have come together to offer support to each other. Things like this add shiny places to my life, to lighten the dark places that lurk there behind me.

I’m glad people are getting into trouble for the terrible things they have done to those who don’t deserve it. I just wish there was a way to make it end now and forever. But I know it won’t …

 


Although the things that caused me hurt in my childhood are not directly relevant to the political hoo haa that’s eating up Twitter at the moment (Jamie Briggs – MP going way too far), the general idea of those in power doing the wrong thing to someone they have power over, is the same. The reason for the lapses in life’s niceties was the same – drunkenness. That wasn’t an excuse when I was a child, and it isn’t now. Drinking too much is a choice made by a person. No-one forced my abuser to drink too much and abuse me. He chose to get drunk, and did it.

No-one in these circumstances was forced to drink too much. There was the option to behave well instead of behaving like an animal. That option should always be the one adhered to especially when you are in a position of power over the one you are dealing with. And with sexual advances, overt acceptance is always required. If the other person isn’t obviously open to your advances, forget about it.

In my poetry collection “damaged children, Precious Gems”, I have a poem that looked at some of these themes. It is from the “Teenage Years” section of the collection, and the relevant poem is titled ‘bragging rights’, and it talks about the difference between how males and females are referred to by their peers where sex is concerned. The young men are heroes with their mates, the young women are labelled sluts by those same young men. Here are the relevant lines:

there’s a line between hero

and slut. It’s a fine line, a very fine line

and it’s gender specific

 

It certainly looks like the ‘hero’ label was placed on or sought by Briggs, in this instance, and I wonder whether the woman would have been labelled slut if the woman had done the same thing. Either way, it was inappropriate behaviour, and the most appropriate label for Briggs over this would be ‘zero not hero’. Let your brain do your thinking, and things will go much better. Dicks aren’t known for their thinking powers.

When I was a teenager, girls who ‘put out’ were labeled like this, and now, many years later they still are labeled in this way. The boys are heroes if they have a conquest, the girls sluts, and the issue of consent is largely irrelevant to some in society. Victim blaming is rampart, and abuse is ignored is down-played as ‘bad behaviour’.

This seems wrong to me, and is wrong in the law. Why are such things accepted by so many people? Is our society really that ignorant that sexual abuse can be accepted as ‘boys being boys’ and so is OK? I don’t think it is, and I think it should be treated as what it is, sexual abuse.

Thoughts from others on this matter are welcome, as always.


The person who first sexually abused me when I was a child has been dead for a long time now. The effects of that abuse still rattle around in the back of my mind though, coming out to the forefront of my thoughts occasionally. When a child has their confidence in the safety of their home, or home substitute is abused. they may find it difficult to feel safe anywhere again.

I am currently hearing stories about institutional abuse by teachers, preachers and others in positions of power over children. This abuse is appalling to hear about/read about, and I wish wasn’t having it put up there on the TV screen, on the radio or in the newspapers. But it’s happening, and having the stories taken out of my view, but still occurring would be an awful things still.

It’s necessary for society to hear about such things, and it’s necessary for offenders, when found, to be properly punished. This punishment cannot stop the event from having happened, but it can work toward building up trust again, and life can move toward a safer inner place, perhaps. When stories of abuse are told, and believed, it can hearten those abused, that their own story may begin to be believed to.

This telling of personal stories, and sharing them with people who truly understand, because they have a similar story, is an important thing. Women’s groups, where the abused people feel safe enough to share with others is a great thing. Dwelling on the pain is not going to help an abused person, but sharing stories, understanding the true one or ones to blame, these can lead to a better mind-set for a person.

picture jen 013_edited

(image by Pauline Edmunds from cover of my book, “damaged children, Precious Gems”)

I am not a counsellor. I don’t put myself forward as one who has looked into the causes and consequences of abuse in a broad ranging way. I am a survivor though, one who has moved from victim to survivor, and I want to help other people to do the same. Being a victim is not a good thing, but being a survivor is great!

Ways to Ease the Pain

July 14, 2015


Now, I’m not saying here I have all of the answers to healing the pain from abuse. We are all different and suffer and I hope heal, in different ways. I just know what worked for me, and I share that with the hope it may offer hope for others.

Healing occurs in set ways, but not in set time frames necessarily. And healing won’t occur if you continue to damage yourself through self-blame, or not caring for yourself. Looking after yourself, giving yourself the chance to look at what has happened in a non-judgemental way helps.

Talking with others who truly know and understand can help. Professional help can certainly play an effective role here too. I never received professional help to aid mt in my healing process. Instead, I fell into creative writing. This helped me to heal from the damage I’d received as a young child, and later on too. I went through different phases of recovery, from hiding from the truth (denial), to anger, and then on to acceptance and recovery.

In my anger stage, I was able to confront the abuser (in my fiction writing). I have two short stories I particularly love, because the main character in the stories stands up the villain of the story, and gives that bad guy exactly what he deserved. It felt so good to write those stories, it was incredibly healing. 

Once that phase was done, I felt I didn’t necessarily need to follow that path any more, and I began to reach out to other people who were hurt and unable to find relief. Talking with other damaged people (women), sharing stories with them, listening in non-judgemental ways, these have helped me, and helped the women I was talking with.

I went on to write more poetry that dealt more with these issues, much happier poetry, where I talk with others, and we all end up with happier stories to tell, stories where we are beginning to understand that this abuse we suffered was not our fault.

I then put all of these poems into a collection, published that work, and am now happy to be sharing my journey with others. The feedback I have had from others reading my words has been positive, and humbling. When other people tell me my words have helped them, I can feel the hard part within melt, and I am happy with that other person and with myself. 

There is still much to do. Women and children are still being abused, and the services there to help them are being cut back by our Federal government at the moment. There are still people out there to help in small ways though, people like me, who will listen to the stories and offer support, by listening and believing the story-teller.

Damaged children can be nurtured and made into precious gems, with the gentle rub of kindness.


This Royal Commission is bringing out so many stories of abuse in Australia, and I hope there is healing for the now adults who were victims of Child Abuse in institutions. Schools and teachers would be the place where children learn the things they should know to move on in life, toward adulthood.

Learning about sex and self-hatred, abuse of office and the ripping up of usual cultural norms of protecting children, these are not things children should be learning at school. When those ‘in charge’ are involved in abuse, both physical abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse, then the lessons learned by students are not the lessons set out in the school curriculum.

It was a brave thing for the then Prime Minister of Australia to do, but Julia Gillard did it, and many victims are now able to gain a forum to finally tell their story and have actions taken against the ones who abused them. This ‘telling their story’ issue is an important one. Many children who have been abused have tried to tell of their abuse, but been ignored, or called liars. To finally be able to speak out, to those who will listen and take action when and if necessary can be a wonderful thing.

When an adult has had such terrible things done to them, things that those in charge should have a role in protecting them from, but in fact do the complete opposite thing, that can be an emotionally crippling thing. Speaking out is a fine thing, but there can be costs there too. Speaking out can bring back to mind things that have been hidden away, and these things can certainly hurt.

Speaking out or writing about these things can be the only thing that can help an abuse person. I have found the writing of poetry and ‘fiction’ has been useful to me. Being able to write down some of the many issues abuse can bring with it ways to ‘deal with’ things, when before, the one abused felt absolutely unable to do anything at all. The writing of my poetry collection ‘Damaged Children Precious Gems’ was a positive step for me from being a victim of child abuse, to being a survivor. Sharing this book with others has brought some relief and understanding for them too.

I hope there are adequate avenues for the further protection of all of these brave people who are stepping up and telling their stories. The website for the Royal Commission has links to appropriate groups. If you are suffering and need help because of these issues, please seek the help you need.

A first avenue for the seeking of help may be something as simple as talking to other people about it. This can be confronting, but I know from personal experience that the relief from finally talking about this abuse can have good and healing effects. Hiding dark things inside yourself is not a good thing to do. Please find ways to talk with others who care and can help you, whether simply by listening as you talk, or by helping you to take further action.

There are people in the world who care about you. Please always believe that.


For 2015 I resolve to do all I can to help to stop the damage that is done to so many children, by others who abuse them. This is usually, but not always, done by adults, who most certainly should be the people nurturing and protecting children from harm.

Children will experiment, yes, but they should not be ‘initiated’ into such things by others with sordid reasons for their illegal actions. Children should be allowed to grow, unharmed to become the best people they can become, with no bad things being done to them to make them doubt their own worth.

I realise this is a huge job to do, but little by little, if more and more people foster similar resolutions, the good things done, can far outweigh the bad.

I know there are other people who have ideas like mine, and who are working hard to help children to get over the abuse they have experienced. One such group is this one. The Bravehearts group does much in many states, and a new group in South Australia is helping them, by raising money for Bravehearts so they can continue their good work.

I dream of a future where no child suffers, and all are allowed to be children, and only move toward adulthood unchallenged by sordid adult desires.

 


One of the reasons I wanted to publish this poetry collection, exploring my journey from victim to survivor, was to help others who have been abused like this. Sexual abuse is such a terrible and private thing, it is difficult to be able to speak out about it. I have found talking about it still helps me, even though the abuse happened many years ago.

I love to share my book with others, and to get responses back. Knowing my poetry has helped someone else, truly warms my heart and lets me know I’ve done a good thing. The most recent person who has my book is a woman who does foster care. I certainly hope my words will give hope to her and to the child/children she has in her life.

The life of a child who thinks no-one else could ever understand what they’re going through, or have gone through in the past can be so limiting. But when the harm can be talked about, it can let others know there are people there who really do understand what you’ve suffered. In numbers there is a kind of strength.

Sharing my poetry, and having it read by people who are healed in the sharing – that’s a wonderful reason to keep on writing, and to be willing to share personal things, this isn’t easy, but the honesty of it is the way to help. If I had never been able to face what happened to me, it may well have never have left me. I may well still be a victim of child sexual abuse, instead of being a survivor.

Troubled Times

July 31, 2014


It seems like every time the news comes on the radio, there’s another story about children being sexually abused by adults who have a duty of care to look after these kids. Whether it’s parents, teachers, care workers, it is so, so wrong.

I was speaking to a retired journalist recently, sharing my poetry collection with him, and talking about the issue. He agrees that we need to talk about these things, and bring the news out, rather than hiding things away. Who can disagree with him on that? Certainly not me.

I’m going to be speaking about these issues at an event happening in the second week of August.

This is so true!

May 26, 2014


I read the most amazing thing on Twitter five minutes ago, and I want to share it on this blog, because it is so relevant. It dodn’t work how it should have though, so I’ll have to try again, later on tonight.


I was reading today about the death of a South Australian man, one previously convicted of child sexual abuse charges. This issue touches me closely, have been a victim, many, many years ago, as a child. I have no idea how I would have felt if my abuser had been murdered. I do admit that I’m glad he’s now dead, and has been for many years.

Child abuse is such a sensitive issue. There are many people who have suffered from this terrible crime, many who have yet to find a peaceful place in their hearts and minds. These victims, quite rightly want to see justice for themselves. So often though there is no justice available.

So do I feel the murder of this man can be justified if it was done in response to his previous abuses? No, I don’t think that. The man was charged, and he did what our justice system said he had to do. He was on a good behaviour bond. I’m not sure about that, I don’t know enough about his case.

He’s dead now. I’m sorry for his family, particularly his sister who found him dead …