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!

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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.