Tag Archives: dysfunction

Epiphany

I was sitting here tonight, trying to keep myself safe, because the urges have been strong tonight, writing and reading poetry, when all of a sudden I had an epiphany (at least, it felt that way).

All night I have been caught in the crossfire between the rational and irrational sides of me, wondering how I can make the incessant desire to kill myself disappear. I started with music, with music blaring in my ears, I wouldn’t hear the thoughts, right? Wrong.

Next I messaged the friends I knew were most likely to still be up at this time of night. After no response, I turned to the fridge for help, more specifically, the alcohol in the fridge (I rationalized by telling myself I wouldnt take my meds tonight, because I know not to mix the two).

None of it seems very rational, does it?

With a couple beers less in the fridge, I turned to the next thing that usually helps let the thoughts pass on, writing. Two unpublished, and one published poems later, I started to feel a little better.

Where is the epiphany, you ask? Well, after posting the latest poem, I started reading other blogs. It turns out, I’m not the only one feeling this way at the moment, so I left some comments of encouragement – things I would like someone to say to me, when I am like this. The epiphany came afer receiving replies, advising I had helped them feel better. The thoughts disappeared instantly, and all of a sudden, the last eight years flashed through my mind, and I realised helping someone else always gets me out the other side.

Let’s hope I don’t have to rely on that realisation too often.

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Stigma, Seeking Help, and Angels

I should know better than to think my past will ever let me escape it’s grip. I might have had a new view a couple of weeks ago, and have been celebrating (internally) at how far I have come, but as is often the case, the past roared to life and knocked me sideways within days of my last post.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, but we will get to that later), three weeks of incredibly long days at work, followed by a week of anniversaries surrounding the legal process and my father’s death, and providing support to other family members having their own struggles with the past, and a number of other ‘stresses’ I had no reserves left to keep my head above water, when I started to drown.

The short story is, I was hospitalised for two days after seeking help from my GP to keep me safe from myself, until the strongest urge to suicide I have yet experienced, had passed.

Those who know me, and those who have followed me from the beginning of this blog, know the desire to take my own life is not new, it has been an ongoing struggle since I was 12. I have had a long period without any suicidal ideation, however, so I think I have become complacent. I am not sure if this impacted the intensity this time, or the amount of planning I managed to do in the minutes it took for me to leave work and arrive at the doctor’s office, once I knew I wasn’t going to make it on my own, but I am grateful to the part of me that acted in opposition to the desire to die.

I learnt a lot from this experience, particularly in regards to stigma, prejudice and discrimination against people with a dysfunctional mind, and more so against those who seek help during crisis.

I have been aware of the ‘badness’ of people who present in a hospital’s Emergency Department following a suicide attempt since I was about 15, when my mother (a nurse) came home from work ranting (that is how it seemed) about the stupidity, cowardliness, and waste of time of a patient who had tried to take their own life. As my mother was angrily expressing her feelings on the matter, I remember thinking to myself, “you have no idea what it is like”, and I often wondered afterwards what she would do if I told her that I fantasised about suicide all the time.

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say people who suicide are cowards, I would have the financial freedom to do and have anything I desired.

When my father took his own life, I heard all sorts of things said about him choosing death over life.

All the while, suicide, and how to achieve it, was front and centre in my mind, from the moment I woke up, to the moment I lost consciousness to sleep each night.

I have written about it endlessly, from Sweet Temptation back in 2010, to my most recent poem Hold My Hand on Poetry From The Ashes.

So, my point is, I knew before I went to the GP twelve days ago, that there was stigma, prejudice and discrimination against anyone so weak they can’t control their own, dysfunctional, mind. Even though I knew, I was not prepared for how difficult asking for help outside of family or friends would be. I was not prepared for the disgust and loathing aimed at me by, so-called, medical ‘professionals’. I was not prepared for the lack of awareness, in this era of organisations such as Beyond Blue, Sane.org, the Black Dog Institute, and Lifeline, who are constantly encouraging those of us considered mentally ill to seek help, by people who are meant to be the ones doing the helping. I was not prepared for the escalation and desperation that rose in me to escape and carry out my plans to end my life. I was not prepared to have to fight so hard to be heard. And I had no reserves to draw on.

I was not prepared.

I was, however, extremely lucky to have some guardian angels on my side.

Angel One was the GP. When I rang to make the appointment, I asked specifically not to see the doctor I normally did, because I knew he would be one of those looking down on me for my weakness. I was given an immediate appointment with a doctor I had not seen before. My initial intention when making the appointment, was to get a certificate for some time off work. By the time I had reached the doctor’s office, I had a fully-fledged plan of what, when, where, and how I was going to end my life. I was expecting to have to push to get the time off work – what I wasn’t expecting was a compassionate human being, who heard the things I was not saying, and who prodded just enough to get me to expose my plan, without having to fully explain the reason for it. By that time, I had broken down completely. The doctor phoned my mother (who was on the otherside of the country) to tell her he was sending me to hospital, and then called for an ambulance.

Angel Two was the surgery nurse who sat with me while I waited for the ambulance, and who allowed me to get my work bag out of my car and change out of my work uniform, before the ambulance arrived. I was crying the whole time, and she took it all in her stride and conversed with me as though I was a fully functioning person, even though I was mostly incoherent.

Angel Three was the female ambulance officer who gave me a running commentary throughout the trip to hospital, and who did her best to calm my rising panic at the thought of going to an Emergency Department as a ‘suicidal maniac’ – images of my mother’s anger at her patient played on loop in my mind, in full HD colour, and her voice rang in my ears. The ambulance officer also explained I was being placed under an emergency order for at least six hours. At the time I had no idea what she meant, but basically I had to have a guard if I needed to use the bathroom, go outside for a cigarette etc.

Angel Four was my brother. He had visited me the night before, and had arrived at his home, a couple of hours away, not long before I asked my mother to call him and ask him to come back. Prior to his arrival, the resident doctor at the hospital had tried to question me on why I was there. At the time, there was a male patient in the room with me, and I did not want to have to try and explain anything if there was no privacy – my mind was racing and confused, I was having trouble breathing, let alone thinking, and I became mute as her anger increased. Eventually she huffed that she couldn’t help me if I didn’t tell her what was wrong, and then stormed off.

So, there I was in a room with a man I did not know, struggling to retain any grip on reality, and I was on the verge of a panic attack. The male patient was taken away a few minutes later, and as soon as he left my body went into anxiety overdrive. All I could think to do was phone my brother to find out how much longer it would be before he arrived. He said an hour. I told myself I could hold on for one more hour, I had to. I huddled in the corner, behind the supply cabinet, crying hysterically, feeling my brain fracture.

Some time later I heard a nurse walk to the door of the room, and I guessed she was either talking to my brother or my mother, as she told them I was fine.

WTF? I wasn’t in any way even close to fine. She didnt even enter the room, and would not have seen me from where she was standing.

I discovered later that it was my brother the nurse had been talking to, as he had tried to get someone to check on me.

Between then and when my brother arrived, I met Angel Five. She had given me a warmed blanket and a pillow when I first arrived, and she had come back to check on me. I was still crying, shaking, and curled up in a ball. I asked if she could get my guard so I could go outside for a cigarette. She left for a moment and then came and said she would take me. Outside, I kept saying I was sorry, over and over. The nurse asked me general questions about where I lived, where I worked, and got me to focus on any thing except the current situation. She said the doctor would be back to see me. I begged her to not make me talk to that doctor. She asked why, and I explained. She asked if I wanted a hug. I declined.

A few minutes after we went back inside, she came and asked to speak to me in the hallway (the male patient was back in the room), and told me the doctor wouldn’t be back, and that the mental health team was sending someone over to see me. I thanked her, then asked if I could have that hug after all. She left, but returned with a cup of tea for me.

A quick look at my watch told me I only had to hold on for 20 more minutes and then my brother would be there to speak up for me, and I could let go and rest.

It was a tough 20 minutes, with another nurse coming in to look down on me. I was ready to give up. I tried to assess how difficult it would be to use the curtain to hang myself. The thought sent me spiralling downwards.

Finally, my brother arrived. He had brought with him Angel Six, my niece. If anyone had any idea of what I was going through it was those two.

Eventually, Angels Seven amd Eight arrived in the form of a psychiatrist and a mental health case worker. They took me to a private room to assess me. At the end of it, I was told I would be admitted overnight. I was so grateful I would not have to face the night alone.

Angel Nine arrived the next day – my daughter. She is a trooper that kid. She has seen the best and worst of me and still loves me.

While the night nurse was compassionate, the day nurse was definitely in the “you should just get over it” camp, and her loathing was palpable. Thank goodness for the angels.

Angel Ten was my mother. She arrived at my bedside later that day, and said she would be here for as long as I needed. Mum has come a long way since that ‘rant’ that still rings in my ears. In the last eight years, I have seen her struggle to understand my dysfunctional mind, but she tries her best, and her willingness to grow is greatly appreciated.

I was released after a second night in hospital. I had a night at home with my daughter and niece, and then my mother whisked me away to the tropics for a week of recuperation.

And what of the view that all of this may be fortunate, or a blessing in disguise, as I mentioned early in this post? Well, I have a new diagnosis, I am on new meds that seem to actually be working, I know my family loves me, and for the next 3 to 6 months at least, I have a team of professionals who are helping me help myself.

I have a much better understanding of why people in crisis don’t ask for help. Of all the hard things I have had to do along my healing journey, my experience of asking for help outside of family and friends, and of the Emergency Department and some hospital staff, is ranked right up there with things like going to the police about what my father did, and making a pretext phone call as part of the legal process.

However, overall, I encourage anyone who is in crisis to seek help. If you are in Australia, use the links to any of the organisations listed above, or if you are standing right at the edge, call 000.

I just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

“I just want to be normal!” 

If only I had a dollar for every time I have said this, or any of its many variations, because I would be Rich, Rich, Rich – yes, Rich with a capital R!

My diaries are filled with this statement, along with “Why can’t I just be normal?”  “Why can’t I be like everyone else?” “If only I was normal!”

Guess what?  For what I had experienced in life, I was normal.  I was, and am, just like everyone else who has experienced some form of major trauma as a child.  The hell I have experienced while healing is the same hell others experience while they heal.  Yet, all the while, I just wanted to be normal.

What is ‘normal’ anyway?

For me, it was ‘normal’ for my father to have sex with me.  It’s just what he did.  It was ‘normal’ to never know from one minute to the next if there was a belting waiting for me when the next minute arrived.  It was ‘normal’ to not know from moment to moment if I was ‘loved’ or hated by my father.  It was ‘normal’ to show the world I was ‘normal’ according to society’s stereotypical standards, while at the same time asking myself why I couldn’t be ‘normal’.

The first time I remember verbalising that I was not normal was when I was 12.  My brother and I had been fighting, as we always did if ever we were in each other’s company for more than 30 seconds.  We were home alone and during the fight my brother had grabbed a large kitchen knife and started chasing me with it.  Eventually he caught me and knocked me to the ground.  As he held the knife to my throat I practically begged him to kill me.  I told him that he should do it because the world would be a better place without me because I wasn’t normal and should be in the ‘looney bin’ anyway.

He didn’t kill me.  In fact, telling him this had the opposite effect, and he helped me up off the ground and said, “No it wouldn’t Sis.”

My brother was 10 at the time.

It wasn’t until I started to understand what I experienced emotionally and psychologically was normal for people who live through child sexual abuse that I started to recognise how I continued verbally abusing myself.  I had fully taken on the role of abuser through my inner voice, telling myself I was useless, stupid, abnormal, crazy.  I came to believe, absolutely, that I was insane.

My only ‘insanity’ was the inability to process my trauma in a way that would release it, rather than relive it.

The process is long, slow, and unbelievably painful.  It cannot be expressed in words.  It is a very lonely road, because although you may be lucky enough to have a ‘support system’ unless those around you have experienced exactly what you have experienced, there is no way they can comprehend what you are going through.  Every moment of healing feels like you have to fight your way, kicking and screaming, to find even enough air to breathe, let alone find the strength to function in any ‘normal’ capacity.

For a while I didn’t want to be normal.  I craved complete loss of function.  I thought it an exceptionally cruel twist of fate that, although there were days when all I could manage was to pull the covers up and a pillow over my head, I was still able to hold down a job, be a mother, be a partner, and work on my healing all at the same time.  I envied people who could just withdraw from life completely.

In hindsight, I am glad I was able to keep going, even if it was in a reduced capacity.  I did withdraw from the world, but not completely.  I did want to die so very badly – but I didn’t.

So, am I ‘normal’?  According to some, I am not.  According to others, I am.  According to myself?  I don’t always conform to society’s norms, but I am not a complete deviate either – I am me – and for ‘me’ I am normal.

Thanks for thinking badly of me

Thank you for providing opportunities to learn & grow

Thank you for providing opportunities to learn & grow

“To all of the people along the way who hurt me, lied to me, betrayed me and broke my heart…

You unknowingly pointed me in the direction of my own North Star.  Without the messes, I wouldn’t have a message.

You gave me more than you ever take from me, so thank you.”

 

My friend posted this on Facebook yesterday.  I instantly connected with it because it is something that I have believed in, and lived by, for quite a while now.

People often tell me I should be angry – at my father, at other adults who did not protect me, at the family and friends that have, as a result of the legal process against my father and his subsequent death, turned their backs on me.

What use to me is anger?

I spent the first 38 years of my life being angry – angry that I had to live this life.  Every one of my emotions expressed itself as anger – even when I didn’t ‘feel’ angry – and it was a horrible existence.

For years I wondered ‘why me?’  What did I do to deserve all of the pain I felt, both physically and psychologically?  What had I done to cause my father to be so angry?  What was that I did that made him sexually abuse me?  Why did I have to be born?

From the very second I made the decision that I mattered, that I was important, and that I was going to stand up and do my very best to protect other children from experiencing what I had experienced, my anger started dissipating.  I started to look at the crap dished out to me by other people in a whole new light.  My perspective changed, and so did my attitude.

I no longer approached everything from the ‘why me?’ perspective.  Instead, I looked hard for ‘what can I learn from this?’  Let me tell you, it was hard, unbelievably hard, but it was so amazingly worth it.

Why was it worth it?  Because the more I looked for the lessons in what I was experiencing, the less others controlled me.  The more I learnt about myself – what were my thoughts, what were my feelings, what were my beliefs, what were my vales – the less the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values of others that I had unknowingly adopted as my own, impacted me.  The power of other people to hurt me reduced dramatically.

I had always believed the world would end if I dared to tell, or that Dad would make good on his threats to kill me, or that the family would implode if the secret ever got out.

Well, the family did implode – but I survived!

There are numerous people out there who would be horrified to know that I write about my experiences of child sexual abuse.  They are the family and friends who chose to protect my father and the family’s public image.  Not one of these people know all of the facts.  These are the people that will do whatever is within their power to stop me from getting my message out there, just as they have used a variety of actions and threats to try to stop me, and those who have supported me, in the past.

There was a time when having the possibility of conflict hanging over my head would have sent me into a tail spin, if not a complete melt down.  I would have been flustered, depressed, and upset, but mostly I would have been angry that others ‘just don’t understand’.

Now, however, I know that the actions of others are not a reflection of me.  In fact, their actions have no relevance to me at all, because the actions of others belong to them, and those actions are motivated by the thoughts and feelings of the people that carry them out.  Just because other people behave badly towards me, does not mean that I am a bad person.

About six months into the legal journey, I had to go on medication because I was barely able to keep myself breathing, let alone be a mother, a partner,  and continue to hold down a full-time job.  Over the next 18 months my ability to function improved, and my outlook on life had really started to change.  Everything went down hill very quickly after Dad passed away.

To be honest, I didn’t even really notice.  It was my partner that made me sit back and take stock and see how I was returning to my old,  comfortable, but totally unhelpful, ways of coping.

After much discussion, we identified the turning point.

My brother was speaking to one of my father’s friends the day after Dad died.  The conversation was going well until my father’s friend, thinking that my brother did not support my decision to speak out, said to my brother, “Well, your sister should have thought about the consequences before she went to the police…”

This statement from my father’s friend sent me right back to square one.

If other people said bad things about me, then they believed I was bad; if they believed I was a bad person, then it must be true that I am a bad person; if it is true that I am a bad person, then I must believe that I am a bad person.  So, if anyone indicated that they thought badly about me, I believed them.  This was the way my mind worked for 38 years.

The challenge was, did I want to go back to that way of thinking, or did I want to continue the work I had been doing and reclaim the progress I had made in the two years following my decision to speak out?

I had worked far too hard, and experienced way too much pain, to go back now.

This meant I had to analyse the way I processed things in my mind.  I had to ask myself, “Am I a bad person just because someone thinks or says that I am?”

The answer is a resounding, “NO!”

What other people think is just their opinion.  Just because they, or I, think something does not make it true.

The next step was to ask myself if I, taking away all of the opinions of others, thought I was a bad person?

No, I don’t.

I am generous, honest, loyal, trustworthy, open, friendly, loving… and a whole heap of other adjectives.  I say what I mean, and do what I say.  What you see is what you get.  I don’t say this to one person and that to someone else.  I don’t judge people by what they have or don’t have, do or don’t do, or any of their personal preferences.  I call a spade a spade, but I am also able to be tactful and understanding.

(Gosh, do you know how hard that would have been to say or write not that long ago?  I have come a long way!).

Anyway, my long-winded point is this – it does not matter what any one else thinks or says about you.  It is their opinion.  It is only your opinion of yourself that matters.

What the opinion of others is good for, however, is as an aid to identifying those parts of you that are not truly you, that you have taken on from someone else.

How do you know if something is truly you or not?  Sit with for a while and it will either feel comfortable or uncomfortable – it will either fit with your values or it will irritate and itch and not feel ‘right’.

It is in this way, that people who do not like us, who hurt us, lie to us etc., can teach us the most wonderful things about ourselves and our purpose in life.  So, just like the meme posted by my friend on Facebook, be grateful to those people for the lessons they lead us to, and in doing so, such people and their actions can no longer have a negative impact on your life.

 

 

Becoming whole by finding all the pieces

Pieces of me

Pieces of me

One of the difficulties we have in ‘becoming whole’ is that others hold pieces of our story.

As children, we do not have the capacity to understand the full context in which our abuse occurs.  As we get older, and start to question who and what we are, we sometimes feel we are not ‘whole’ – that we are not normal, and there are parts of us missing.

It was not until I wanted to heal, (as opposed to just trying to get through each day), that I discovered other people often held the key to real understanding.

Over the years, I had received snippets of information from relatives, friends of my parents, people who were children when I was, but I had never consciously put these pieces into the jig-saw that was my life as a child.  It was only when I had made a conscious decision to become ‘whole’ that these pieces of ‘me’ fell into place.

My perspective was that of a child.  The perspective of others was the background and context.

Going through the darkest years, at times it really did feel like someone had upended a box of jig-saw pieces, scattering them everywhere.  For quite a while I did not have the energy or the inclination to sift through them and start putting the pieces together.

Once I started, however, I noticed subtle changes in me even after placing only a few pieces.  Suddenly things were starting to make sense.  Things like why my family was the way it was, how others could not see the monster I could see, why my cries for help went unnoticed, and why I always felt so confused and angry.  All of this understanding relied on the information others had given me.

No longer was I trying to make sense of my life purely from a child’s perspective, with a child’s limited understanding.

Although that statement might, at first, seem strange, the truth is, I was trying to comprehend what had happened, but the only knowledge of it I had was through the eyes of a child.  Even as an adult, the only experience of it I knew was my own.  Because I was a child living through it, I did not have all the details, all of the context, or all of the broader understanding that comes with age.

The years of painstakingly seeking out, and sorting through, all of the pieces of the puzzle were hard (a HUGE understatement), but I did, eventually, get through it.

Actively seeking the pieces of me held by other people, left me open to hurt, embarrassment, and shame.  At times it felt as though I was once again a child experiencing abuse – and in a sense I was.  I found I had to revisit what had happened to me time and time and time again to make sense of the new information – to see what was happening through the eyes of the person supplying this ‘new’ information.

There are still pieces that are missing.  There are still things I can’t make sense of.  There are still questions I need answered.

The difference now, however, is that the hardest work has been done, and new pieces of information no longer push me to the brink of oblivion.

A large percentage of the puzzle is together.  There is now room on the table for the rest of the pieces to lie separate from each other, instead of piled in a heap with no breathing room.  I already have a good sense of the background and context, so the correct placement of the new pieces occurs more quickly than before, and I don’t need to revisit and relive what happened in order to make sense of it all (well, not as much anyway).

These days, I can function reasonably similarly to a ‘normal’ person.  I can look at the sky and enjoy it’s blueness and not be triggered by it.  I can smile.  I can laugh, and really mean it.  I can do most of the things I want to without feeling like I need to have someone else’s permission.

Yes, there is still work to be done, but it is no longer vital to my survival like it used to be.  There is no longer real risk of harm to myself if I can’t get the pieces together.  There is enough of the puzzle completed to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture.

Who holds the pieces of you?

Overcoming the World, Part 3 – Pedophilia Redefined

It will take me some time to formulate a response to this, but in the meantime, I am reblogging this post for others to consider.

ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse

A change in the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) heralds a trend towards destigmatizing (and ultimately legalizing) pedophilia.

Those who are sexually attracted to children but have not yet acted on their desires are no longer classified as having a psychiatric condition [1].  Only if such persons prove harmful or dangerous will they be diagnosed as having “pedophilia syndrome”.

This raises the possibility that molested children will soon have the legal burden of proving they suffered any harm from the abuse. In fact, it foreshadows a time, not so far in the future, when child molesters will not be prosecutable at all. The stomach roils in disgust.

Vernon Quinsey (professor emeritus in psychology at Queen’s University, Ontario) and Hubert Van Gijseghem (psychologist and retired professor from the University of Montreal) are two of the “experts” who have advised legislators that pedophilia is a…

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Hear no evil

Hear no evil

Hear no evil

“Seriously, why can’t all you ‘survivors’ just shut the fuck up?  Why do you have to ruin people’s lives?  I mean, it all happened years ago, right?  So, why can’t you just get over it?  Why can’t you leave it be?  Why do you have to drag it all up, and destroy other people?”

“Steve!” Enid exclaimed.  “Don’t be so rude!”

“Oh, that’s okay, Enid.  Steve is entitled to his opinion.”

“But…”

“Enid, don’t be embarrassed.  There a lot of people out there who think and feel just like Steve.  So, Steve, do you really want to know why we ‘survivors’ speak out?  Or, are you just letting off steam?”

“Oh, I’d really like to know.  I am so sick of hearing about people having a good old whinge because they were abused as a child.  I wish you’d all go die in a hole together somewhere, you know?  You’re all a mob of sooks – wimps who can’t take a well-deserved thrashing, and now want everyone else to pay.”

“Really?  Steve, you have a daughter, right?”

“Yep.”

“And how old is she?”

“Four.”

“And you wouldn’t dream of having sex with her right?”

“Are you kidding?  She’s my daughter, for fuck’s sake!”

“True, but some people do have sex with their children, and even when the kids are younger than your daughter.  All you have to do is pick up any newspaper and you will see it is happening all the time.”

“I hadn’t really noticed.”

“Anyway, you knew my father quite well, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s why I reckon you’re lying.  He wouldn’t have done any of the things you say he done.”

“Ah, but he did.  And his favourite age for young girls was six years old – not much older than your daughter.  Most of his friends have young daughters.  He would spend lots of time with their parents and, in the process, lots of time with the girl.  He would tell the parents he could mind their daughter if ever they needed time out…”

“Like he did for us?”

“Yep, just like that.  Over time, usually a few years, he would then start making the girl feel special – praise her for doing things that pleased him, giving her special treats, treating her like she was a little princess.  If they were a little older, he would play on their budding sensuality, flirt with them, tease them to make them blush, touch them ever so slightly here and there to get them used to being near him.  Talk dirty, occasionally.  I’m sure you’ve seen this happen?”

“Like he was doing with Jessie?”

“Exactly.  His favourite thing of all, was to take them away for a weekend or school holidays – camping or something similar – take them to somewhere they’d never been before.  All in the name of education, of course.”

“Didn’t he take Margaret to the city once?”

“Yes, he did.”

“That doesn’t mean he did anything.”

“True, but what if I am not lying, and he did?  How would you feel then?”

“Dunno.”

“From the way you have spoken before, Steve, it sounds like you hate me for speaking out?”

“Yeah, you killed him.”

“You are entitled to your opinion, but what if the things I am telling you are true?  How would you feel about me if I hadn’t spoken out?  If I hadn’t brought this to people’s attention, and he had continued grooming your daughter?  What if he had put his fingers in your daughter’s vagina because I hadn’t broken the silence and tried to stop him molesting other girls?  What if he progressed to raping her?  How would you feel about me then?  If I had known what he was like, but never said anything?”

“I’d be pretty pissed.”

“You would probably hate me even more than you do now.”

“But I don’t think he did what you said.”

“Go away and think about it.  Think about all the times you have seen him with your daughter, had her on his knee, tickled her under her shirt, showered with her.  Think of all the times you have seen him with other girls.  Really look at how he behaved.  The inappropriate double-entendres with prepubescent and teenage girls.  The eagerness to have young girls stay over.  The trips away with one or two girls at a time…”

“But his wife was always with him.”

“I was molested with my mother in the room.  I can guarantee it can happen in a split second and right in front of other people.  Where there is a will there’s a way, and he had perfected his methods.”

“That can’t be true.”

“Just think about it.”

“Maybe.”

“Steve, there are lots of other reasons we speak out, but the safety of those still in danger is often a major factor in the decision.  The reason it usually takes so long, apart from all the psychological damage that has to be worked through, is that most people who were abused as a child think they are the only victim.  If it’s only them, why bother?  But when others are at risk of experiencing what we’ve experienced, the matter becomes urgent.”

“I still don’t think it’s true.”