Sunday 12 May 2013

Brave Victim Speaks Out

Another brave blogger speaking out about his abuse during childhood.

Ok, here goes....

I’m going to “cut to the chase” and give you the headline as it were and then I’m going to give you the background surrounding the whole situation.

You will have to bear with me as this will no doubt flick back and forth through time as I recall it, but all the facts will be here.

On April the 11th last year, I finally faced the demons that had haunted me for 30 years and confronted/revealed the fact that I was sexually abused as a child-by my dad.

I had long kept hidden this secret for various reasons- fear of not being believed, fear of the pain it would cause to everyone around me and had never breathed a word to a living soul having convinced myself long ago that it would never ever come out.

Ever since it happened, I have harboured nothing but contempt and hatred for my dad and have always taken every single opportunity I could to take digs at him as I always felt that would be my only way of getting at him as I was convinced I would never reveal the real reasons why.
Those close to me have often quizzed me on why we don’t get on and all I could offer in return was lies and had to just carry on feeling that people would always somehow consider me to be an unreasonable son who just didn’t like his dad, but the truth was something very different and one that I had decided would be suppressed forever and that I would try to live a “normal” existence.

The abuse happened between the ages of 11 and 13. I remember it clearly and can remember exact details of where I was and what happened as if it happened yesterday. I won’t go into the actual gory details of what physically happened, suffice to say that the events were everything that could happen between two males. Now I look back, a lot of things make much more sense-I have always been what I consider to be a very angry person (as my close friends, family and work colleagues will I’m sure agree with).

The only way I can explain this is that most people have anger levels that go from 0 to 10 (ten being complete rage), but mine started at level 5, so when any situation started to escalate I was well ahead of everyone when it came to anger levels and would frequently fly off the handle long before everyone else. I lived with this for many years, often ending up apologising for being “unreasonable” and simply taking the blame for any situation that I was involved with that may have gotten out of hand. I think this stems from the fact that I carried with me a sense of guilt over what happened, having long since (since a very early age, long before the abuse happened) always having been made to feel like I was to blame by my dad for anything that ever happened, or any (normal growing up) trouble I got into as a boy, as all he ever did as a parent was criticise me (criticism is something that I still find hard to take to this day as a result). I lived with the guilt and shame constantly, wondering if somehow I was to blame and feeling such a sense of shame in what I had done and been involved with.

Never once did it occur to me that I would (or indeed would have the courage to) reveal what happened, even though I have always (up until recently which I will come to later) had an absolutely fantastic relationship with my mum. My mum is Italian and as such places a very strong emphasis on family values and that was drummed into me from a very early age. For example, I was always made to write thank you cards for Christmas & Birthday presents. It was something that I loathed doing as a boy, but can look back and see that it was just something that was right to do (and is something I continue to impress on my son). I will also say for the record, that it was my mum that brought me up and raised me and taught me as my dad took no interest in me at all and invariably spent his time asleep on the sofa at any given opportunity.

The input from my mum paid off as I have always considered her to be my best friend and she has always been my first port of call on any many subjects for advice, whether it be job related, parenting advice, you name it I would talk to my mum about it-everything except the one thing that I kept hidden. As I’ve mentioned, my relationship with my dad has always been at best strained as I have struggled to come to terms with what he did and the fact that at no point did he ever show one single shred of remorse. Far from in fact as his treatment of me at times was diabolical saying poisonous things like “I was doing fine until you came along” during arguments. I have always taken every opportunity I could to have a dig at him or humiliate him in some way to get back at him, knowing he knew the real reason and for years I thought this would be my only way. I was also aware that because no one knew what had happened, it must have seemed strange that I was so unrelenting towards him and I became ever more conscious over the years that people would think that I was indeed the bad guy and that I was out of order for treating my “poor old dad” in this way. Pretty much my whole family know that my relationship with my dad has been awful for many many years and what became hard was the fact that I had to lie to them to cover up the real reasons for the regular fall outs over the years. This became harder and harder as I became to resent myself for A) lying and deceiving people and B) covering up for an individual that was about a low a form of scum and evil as you could get. This went on for many years, from about the age of 13 when I think I first truly realised what had happened and just how wrong it was.

I carried on trying to lead a normal life and developed a very “bolshie” and aggressive character to cover up the turmoil that was within (I know that most people who are reading this that know me will recognise that person, but in reality that person was nothing more than an imposter created by me to conceal the truth). As I have said, I took every opportunity to dig at my dad, even being over for Sunday lunch at my mum and dad’s I would read out loud articles from the newspaper about sexual abusers and paedophiles that had been caught/arrested etc in full knowledge that he could hear just to let him know that I had not forgotten what he did, again feeling that this was my only way of getting back at him, yet still he showed no signs of remorse or humility (quite the opposite in fact as he became more aggressive and hostile towards me in varying arguments over the years). I lived with the fact that I was deceiving those close (and not so close) to me over the years and it became (I’m not sure if this is the right word though) easier to lie.

The problem was that I became ever more conscious over the years that people would think badly of me over my treatment of my dad and although no one ever said anything, I knew people were thinking that I was unreasonable and that I was in some way a bad person for being totally unforgiving to my dad over the regular arguments that took place over the years (normally on a weekly basis). These arguments would stem out of nothing and I would seize every opportunity to humiliate him and make him look foolish and would then subsequently have to accept the “fact” that I had behaved unreasonably. My ex wife had to witness this on a regular basis over the years and was fully aware that there were issues between me and my dad. Even though I was married to her and had been with her since the age of 18, there was still no point in my mind where I had considered telling even her as my mindset was still that no one would believe me and that people would somehow blame me for what happened and judge me as some form of lowlife myself.

The arguments continued over the years (often arising out of nothing) until October 2007 when things came to a head. By this time I had remarried and become a “different” person, I was stronger inside and that confidence was given to me by my wife ("M"). Not by anything she particularly said or did, just by the fact that she showed unconditional love and support for me and this started me thinking that I might at last be in a position to reveal to her what had happened. There were various times I had “decided” I would tell her, but in reality I think I was just kidding myself and it became apparent that I still hadn’t cleared that barrier of feeling somehow responsible for what had happened and worrying what she might say/do. The other thing that I have carried as a result of my dad’s treatment of me over the years is one of feeling that I was somehow to blame for causing hurt, pain or difficulty to other people, so even though I desperately wanted to tell my Wife I also didn’t want to be “responsible” for causing her any pain and suffering. She and I have some history-we met when we were 15 years old as we worked part time after school in a supermarket in Richmond! I was shelf filler and she worked on the checkouts.

We became boyfriend/girlfriend for 7 or 8 months when our relationship came to an end (I don’t really remember why to be honest), but at 16 these things happen. In August of 2003 I was having a nose around Friends Reunited and spotted her, so I dropped her a line and the rest is pretty much history. I knew quickly that I had strong feelings for her (I think we exchanged the “L” word in September of 2003!) and I moved in with her in November 2003 (having been pretty much living with her in the preceding couple of months anyway). I knew I had a bond with her that I had never felt before and then we bought our own place together. Looking back, it’s no coincidence that my behaviour then started to go downhill rapidly after the abuse, with me even ending up getting expelled from school following school trip to Switzerland (in reality, I had actually not been guilty of any great crime on that holiday, but I think it was just the excuse they needed to expel me as I had been a troublesome pupil). The years then rolled by and I moved out of my parents home and into a flat with my then wife to be in Kingston (still knowing that I would/could never reveal the truth).

We had a son and I continued to lead a “normal” life, going on to have a Son in February 1998. My general anger continued over the years and I continued to feel that I was unable to be the person I really am. That brings me pretty much up to date. My son's mum and I divorced some 8 years ago and in August 2003 I met up with my wife to be..

Back to October 2007... My mum’s arthritis had been getting progressively worse and she was finding the stairs at home more difficult to get up and down. They had looked at getting a stair lift installed, but the gap at the bottom of the stairs was a couple of inches too narrow so that wasn’t possible. I suggested that moving house was an option (they had no mortgage so finance wasn’t an issue) and they seemed to agree. Weeks and months went by looking at different properties in different areas and then one Sunday everything changed. We were having our usual post lunch arguments over houses, when my dad pulled out some leaflets on very small cottages. At this point I began to lose the will to live and could feel my blood boiling in a way I had never felt before and made the point that if they couldn’t get a starlet in a good sized two bedroom house in Kingston, what hope did they have in an oldy worldy cottage? I totally lost it, standing up and throwing all the paperwork on the table and saying that I could no longer do this and it was all just waste of time. My mum, wife and my son all looked at me in a very shocked fashion as I don’t think any of them could believe I was behaving this was “over a cottage leaflet”. My dad then stood up and we were pretty much toe to toe and suddenly 30 years of rage flowed through my veins and I thought I was going to go for him. At this point my son burst into tears and my mum grabbed hold of him to console him. My wife grabbed hold of me and pulled me away from my dad as I’m sure she sure what was about to happen. My dad (as he always did), walked away muttering something offensive (he never had the balls to stand and say anything, it was always while walking away, or just before he would hang up the phone, or he would leave the house and go for a walk rather than ever sit and discuss anything). My wife and I went outside for a cigarette to calm down and we then went back in pretty much got our stuff and left.

The worst part about that day was that my son got to see a side of his dad that he had never seen and that upset him hugely as all he saw was his dad going to toe with his grandfather and that hurt me deeply. At this point due to the ferocity of the argument, I thought I had at last finally found a “legitimate” reason to step away and sever ties with my dad. I felt that I had a reason that other people wouldn’t perceive as unreasonable that I had no contact with him (it was always important to me what other people felt and still is to this day) and that people would understand that I didn’t want contact with him after nearly having a punch up with him. Life carried on between me and my mum. I continued to see her and ring her every night or every other night as I had always done and for a couple of months she tried to act as a mediator between me and my dad, trying to “patch things up”. I knew this was never going to happen in reality and kept saying to my mum that I was done with him and his arguments and that there were billions of people on the planet, so the fact that two don’t “get on” is fairly likely somewhere along the line.

This continued until early in the New Year (my mum had been invited to spend Christmas lunch with us, but declined to spend it with my dad. It should be noted that my dad has (literally) no friends in the world. He has deliberately alienated anyone over the years that have been able to offer an opposing point of view, so he rows with them and never speaks to them again. This is a classic sign of a manipulator, his logic is that if there is no one to tell him he is being a prick, then (in his mind) he simply is not being a prick. He does have family (he even has 2 daughters from a previous marriage), but there is no contact whatsoever with them apart from his eldest daughter who initiated contact with him a few years ago after being estranged from him most of her life (more about that later). My dad will not tolerate/allow anyone in his life that can make either him or my mum see that he is in some way out of order/wrong, etc so he has created this bubble where it is just him and my mum (again, a classic manipulative trait of a sexual abuser).

After Christmas, I felt my mum had finally accepted that my “relationship” with my dad was over and she began to stop mentioning it when I spoke to her, but I became ever more conscious/aware that although she was not mentioning it directly, she was still making me aware of it. I would ring her as usual and ask her how she was, only to be met with “how do you think I am?” and various comments like that. This became more regular and things began to become slightly strained between us. This began to eat away at me constantly as my mum played such a important part in my life-I think it’s true to say this is true of all boys and we are all mummy’s boys at heart. I became ever more aware of the situation with my mum and started to feel huge guilt (nothing new there) and that I was causing her pain and suffering and that’s when I began to feel that the time to reveal what had happened may finally be approaching.

In April of last year it was my dad’s birthday and my wife had said to me that she was going to send him a card (obviously she still knew nothing of the truth at this point), so when she told me I said clearly not to put my name on the card (she replied jokingly that she was planning to put my name all over it!).

I rang my mum on my way home from work (as I always did) by coincidence the evening of my dad’s birthday (April 11th) for the usual chinwag etc. All of a sudden she said to me “Hold on your dad wants a word” and handed the phone to him. He then came on the phone and without any hint of an apology or any remorse about the fact that we had not seen each other or spoken one word to each other for the last 6 months (I specifically didn’t send him a Christmas card or buy him a Christmas present), he said “Thanks for the card”. My heart stopped and I felt physically sick and I realised that my wife indeed must have put my name on it and here he was pretending that everything was ok and behaving as everything was ok. I was shocked, but I said something like “Ok, can I speak to mum again please?” and he passed the phone back. We continued to chat for a few minutes and I made the point to her that he had some front just coming on the phone like that as if nothing was wrong. A few moments later she handed the phone back to him and he came on and said “Would you like to go out for lunch next week?” to which I replied “No thanks”. Her then (as usual) became agitated and said aggressively “Oh, perhaps you need more time” implying that I was the one with a problem and he had no issues or problem whatsoever (again, absolutely atypical of him), to which I replied “No, I don’t need more time, I just know I don’t want to spend any time with you”. He then did his usual mumble something offensive or derogatory and handed the phone straight back to my mum (obviously before I had the chance to say anything). To say I was fuming would be the understatement of the decade, I felt sick that he could come on the phone as if nothing had happened, without any mention of the fact that I had chosen to stay completely away from him for the last six months, or any hint of remorse for what had happened and what made it worse was the fact that he clearly thought I had chosen to send him a birthday card. I pretty much ended the call with my mum and finished my journey home whilst realising that this could not go on any longer. In the run up to his birthday, a couple of other things had happened that made me see that the lies had to stop once and for all.

My ex wife had sent me an email the week before (completely innocently in fairness) asking me if I was taking my son to see my dad for his birthday, she said that she “knew we weren’t talking again” and that if I didn’t want to she would take Dan over. Again, people’s perception of the situation with my dad came into my thoughts and I couldn’t stand the thought that people were thinking that it was “just a silly squabble” when I knew the real reason. The other issue was that I became aware how bad I felt lying to Dan when he asked me when we would be going back to my mum and dad’s for lunch and I knew I couldn’t go on bare faced lying to my own son. I also think his age played a part in it as he was only a few months off being 11 years old, which is the age I was when the abuse started. So all these things happened in the lead up to his birthday and I began to realise that the time was approaching to reveal the truth (although in reality I had no idea how I was going to do it).

So after the “thanks for my card” incident, I drove home in a trance, not knowing what to say or do-I couldn’t be angry with my wife as she had acted with the best intentions, but I also couldn’t go on any longer feeling a fraud. I got home and saw she was at the cooker making dinner and the first thing I said to her was “Did you put my name on my dad’s birthday card?” She turned around and with a look of regret said that she had (I knew this was the point of no return). I said to her “Do you know how much I despise him?” to which she replied “Yes I do”, only for me to then say “No you don’t, he sexually abused me when I was 11 years old”.

I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that ripped through me at this moment, other than to say that suddenly after 30 years the lies, deceit, hatred, guilt and shame were suddenly lifted from my shoulders. That is a moment that will stay with me forever I suspect as it has become such a pivotal moment in my life. She just grabbed hold of me and hugged me for what seemed like an eternity, while all the images of the abuse, the arguments, the lies, the deceit, the guilt and the shame flooded through and out of my veins. Once we settled, I told her everything that had happened, what he had done to me and when. I didn’t hold anything back and gave her the full gory details. We sat and talked and eventually she asked me what I wanted to do next, telling me that whatever it was I had her full support. This was a moment I had been waiting 30 years for, someone to support me in not feeling dirty and shameful and understanding what I was saying-and for that I can never repay her.

We discussed the various options: Tell my mum. Not tell my mum but confront my dad. Not tell anyone. Go to the police. We went through what we thought was every eventuality of every option, but the overriding feeling for me was that I needed to tell my mum. We went through what could happen when I told her, but I knew that whatever the eventuality, I simply had to tell her.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi there, I'm the owner/writer of that blog, thank you for publishing it.

    I think it's fair to say it's not an easy read, but it is honest and if only one person finds comfort from it, then that will be a good thing.


Thanks for your time and interest