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An open letter

I am writing this 'open letter' as a victim of sexual and emotional abuse in the hope that it may touch others and provide hope. That it may, in some minute way, bring about a grain of change that can be built on over time.

**TW: the impact of experiences of abuse**

The views expressed here are my own.

I am not affiliated with anyone, although I express my deepest thanks to SARSAS for their existence, support and professionalism.

So I begin.

Throughout my life I feel like I have dawdled aimlessly through life, not achieving anything of interest or merit. Feeling numb and, I guess, ‘sleep walking’ through life. There have been times when I have wondered why can’t I remember any events from my childhood, but I have evaded this question.

I also felt a great deal of mistrust especially of men. Relationships were difficult, and I felt the only way to have a good relationship was to always satisfy a man sexually otherwise I had failed. I did not realise that relationships are about trust, sharing, and mostly love. I do now.

My body, instead of being a temple, was to me fat, ugly and not worthy of care or kindness. A reflection of my ‘outside’ world and the people in it. I draped my hugeness in baggy, black darkness. I now realise that this was a protection as well as a statement. It said keep well away from me. I am not desirable. I am ugly, fat and unlovable. Whilst I still struggle with coming out of the shadows, I am making gentle progress to change the black with other colour, but I know, for me, this will take time. The fundamental change within me is although I am fat, I am not ugly and that I now feel that I have within me the most beautiful array of dancing colours and light just waiting to explode on the outside like an artist’s canvas.

As I write this, I am wondering does this resonate with anyone? Is anyone wondering? If they are I would say be gentle, go at your own pace, there is time, there is help, and there is hope.

I am 58, and when I was 52, I had major surgery. After this I developed a very serious pain condition which broke down all my mental and physical barriers and protections. like a tap, the drip, drip of memories made their way to the surface of my mind and to remembering. I have to be honest; the trauma I felt as the past was re-born within me was overwhelming.

For a very, very long time I was in absolute disbelief. On many occasions, I heard that, a lot of victims of abuse did not remember. How could that be, I would ask myself? I would always remember!. Fundamentally, a part deep within me knew, but the every day, functioning me had protected itself by blocking off, shutting down and being in survival mode.

Now, I can clearly see patterns and behaviours that have acted to try to keep me safe and alive. I see that dressing like a shadow hid me from any form of attention. It kept me in the background, nice and quiet.

I see that never stepping forward and trying to achieve any potential also kept me hidden. It was also a self-fulfilling prophecy that I was not good enough.

I see that relationships have been based on the sexual act as a way of trying to keep and the only way I knew how to have a relationship with a man.

As I try to understand the complexities of abuse, I am stepping back and trying to reserve my energies. That I need to take time to absorb what has been. The way I have ‘sleep walked’ through my life. The deepest, deepest sadness I feel that nearly 52 years of my life have been a ‘dream’ of survival. That I have always been in fight, flight or freeze mode. That my body is scared from the physical act and my mind has been bombed from inside.

So here I stand quite a mess to behold. But within me is growing this flame, this light, this strength, this power. To understand that as a very little child somehow, someway I have survived pain and trauma to be here today writing this ‘open letter’ in the hope that my words will have resonance. That they will give hope and strength to other victims of abuse.

I am still alive. This is a miracle. The human race is capable of great pain and/or great love. I believe that qualities of compassion and kindness need to make a resurgence. This, I feel, must start with the self.

Abuse is complex. It is subtle, hidden, obvious. It has many faces. It does exist.

I used to be very frightened to talk about being abused having spent a lifetime of programming. Now, I am writing this with the sole aim of trying to connect with other victims of abuse. Of course, I can only write from my personal perspective.

At this present time, I am writing anonymously, as there is someone still in my life who would be greatly affected by these revelations.

I end this ‘open letter’ knowing that after nearly 58 years of life, I have begun to address the abuse of my past. I will find the gentleness, kindness, and love to slowly change the way I feel about myself. This will take time. I am making a start.

I give thanks to SARSAS for walking with me on part of my journey and for the amazing light within me that has kept burning to guide my path and keep me alive.

If you need help there are charities that exist. SARSAS, the Samaritans, your GP. A trusted friend etc.

You are not alone.

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