The Abuser is long dead, but inner pain remains

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!


Royal Commission on Institutional Child Abuse

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.

Vigilante Action, or Just Plain Murder?

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 …

Why Did I Put This Collection Together?

People write poetry for many different reasons, and they put together collections of their poems for many different reasons too. When I first began collecting and writing for my first poetry collection, I didn’t realise how diverse my reasons really were…

I thought putting a collection together was just a natural progression for a poet. I knew other poets with collections out and I wanted to join the crew. There was more to it than that though. My collection has a theme, an important theme, and that theme was child abuse. It’s not a cheerful subject, but it’s one I certainly know a bit about.

My poetry collection shows my journey from being the victim of child abuse to being a survivor from child abuse. It includes many poems showing the ways I’ve been thinking about the subject over the many years in between my stages.

So, one of my reasons for putting the collection together was to show my journey. Another reason was simply to help myself come to terms with the abuse and the way it affected my life. A further reason was to hep to heal myself. I certainly found the whole process therapeutic.

A final reason though is this one – I didn’t realise it at the time, but this is a book that has helped other people who’ve been sexually abused. Knowing one is not alone and that other people really do understand what you’ve suffered from is such a good feeling. If you’re not alone, you can begin to fight back, if only fighting back against your own thoughts.

A friend spoke to me recently and she thanked me for my poetry collection. It meant much to her and she was able to finally put some demons away. Learning these things gives me such a good feeling. I’m a survivor now, not a victim, and with my words, I know I’ve helped others to become survivors too.

A Magistrate? Terrible news!

I heard/saw this story on the news today. 

Magistrate admits to sexually abusing boys in the 1980’s

It made me so sad that someone whose job in part is to help victims to find justice, would do this terrible thing.

I hope this man spends his time in prison thinking about his poor victims, and is ashamed and deeply sorry for what he has done. I can’t imagine how anyone could possible think this is something they should do. 

What hope is there in our world when a magistrate will do this terrible thing? The only hope is that there are many more people who can see the wrongness of this man’s actions, and speak out against it.

Let children be children.

Poetry Reading – from my poetry collection

Today I had the opportunity to read a few poems from, and talk about my poetry collection, ‘damaged children, Precious Gems. The event was at the Disability Information and Resource Centre, as part of their 30th birthday celebrations.

I was one of three writers who are clients of the SA Writers Centre Disability Writer in Residence program, who were asked to read some of their work. This program is funded by a grant from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust. It helps people with disabilities with furthering their writing, and many of the clients have been able to publish books, when they may never have had chance to do that without the program.

I spoke with a person from the DIRC while I was there, and I hope it leads to something at the Centre next year. I am firmly of the opinion that creative writing can be therapeutic for people who’ve experience trauma in their lives. I feel my creative writing helped me to move on from being a ‘victim’ to being a ‘survivor’ from child sexual abuse. 

I would love to be able to assist others to make their own journey along that rocky path, from victim to survivor. Do you ever find help from writing down the crap from your life, and getting rid of it?

Finally, something big is going to happen

People living in Australia will have heard about the proposed Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. I hope it works out well for the thousands of people who’ve been carrying the burden of what happened to them years and years ago.

As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I too was sexually abused as a child. My abuser wasn’t a person who would fit the conditions for this governmental commission. My abuser was a person somewhat connected to my family, but was not a relative. He was in a position where he should have taken care of me though, not abuse me in the way he did.

He’s dead now, an old man when I knew him, an old and nasty man. I never liked ‘Uncle Les’ as he was named to the grandchildren he came into contact with. He’s gone now, and I’ve worked to feel better about what happened to me. I know it wasn’t my fault, I was a child, with little power. He was an adult with too much power, that he abused.

Children should always be able to feel safe with adults. Sadly, too many times, for too many children, that isn’t possible. I hope many damaged children can find solace from this Royal Commission, and can become the precious gems they should have the right to be.

‘damaged children Precious Gems’ Second Print Run Now Out!

When I ordered 100 copies of my poetry collection, that deals with my story of sexual abuse and other related issues, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find enough people who wanted a copy of the book.

When you self-publish your own book, you take on the responsibility for selling and or giving away the copies, so you don’t get stuck with boxes of books taking up space in your home. When I took possession of the first lot of books, I was pumped up ready to sell my book, and eager to talk to people about my story. I stayed that way throughout the year since the book first came out. I had a book launch, talked to people and found new homes for the books. Then a couple of months ago I checked my stocks of books left, and realised I only had a handful of copies left.

That’s when I decided it was time to bite the bullet and order another print run! Exciting stuff, and I’ll be looking for opportunities to talk with people about sex abuse. In a caring way, of course. There are so many people, both men and women, who have been holding onto stories of shame. When you think you’re the only ‘bad’ person this has happened to, it’s a terrible thing. But there are so many of us, all with our own secrets, that are eating into our happiness, leaving shame and despair.

I’m sharing my story, because I want people to know they’re not alone, and that there are people who know how it can be. Knowing you’re not the only one, and that it wasn’t your fault, can bring some inner peace to you. I found my inner peace by sharing my story, and I hope others can do the same.

My dream is to run creative writing workshops with people who have been hurt by these terrible things. I’m not a counsellor, but I’m a writer who knows how to listen with empathy.

Acknowledging that it’s not Just Girls

I just read about a very disturbing thing that happened to two young boys. I haven’t experienced this myself, but it touched my deep inside when I read about this abuse.

It hurt to read about it, but it reinforces the truth that we must open, not close, our eyes to these things.

Many thanks to the Mama Mia Team for helping to keep our eyes on these things, that must be changed/fixed/repaired.



Protecting Children can be a Difficult Thing…

This article that I first read just a few minutes ago, has left me pondering how far should people go to protect the innocent. In this case, a father kills the abuser of his four year old child.

On the one hand of course, anyone would expect a father to protect his child. On the other hand though, killing a person is the worst punishment anyone could ever get. The man son’t be charged with murder, according to the article, but killing another person is a thing that should never be done except in extreme circumstances.

I can only hope the child didn’t witness this attack on the abuser, and I hope the father and child can work out a way to understand the whole mad event. I don’t know how you’d explain it, but killing is killing, abuse is abuse, and yes, children should always be protected until they are old enough to protect themselves.

This link has more information about this case. Personally, I feel the father has gone too far. Killing a person surely is going too far.. Do you agree?

I’m interested to  know how other people feel about this terrible thing.