Trigger warning: The following piece is about surviving sexual violence. If you think this will be disturbing for you, then you might choose not to read it. Or you might want to read it somewhere that you feel safe and comfortable. If you find that reading is getting unmanageable, STOP, do something calming, and only return to the piece if you feel ready.
I am 27 years old and was a victim of sexual abuse as a child aged 8. I have never written a blog before but having read many other male survivors stories on this website I have been inspired to add my own. Not only to potentially help people reading this but also for myself.
I want to talk about the abuse itself, growing up, slowly realising what happened to me, the deterioration of my mental health, opening up about the abuse, my suicide attempt, confronting my abuser and looking towards a better future for myself.
The abuse started when my parents left me with a family friend, my childminder at the time, for three months. My Dad had been diagnosed with Leukaemia and they had to move to Nottingham as he waited for a bone marrow transplant. During this short stay I became a victim of something I wasn’t even aware was wrong at the time. I didn’t think it was good, I didn’t think it was bad and I didn’t try to stop it. It was just a game to me, or so he told me it was. However, being so young I wasn’t aware just how sick, twisted and perverted it really was. At eight years old you are naive to anything sexual and with my parents hundreds of miles away I was extremely vulnerable. The abuser was 15, old enough to know exactly what he was doing. The abuse happened on numerous occasions, to the point where I was hurt, not only leaving me with emotional scars to this day but physical scars also.
My parents soon came home and I was back living with them. The abuse that took place was swept to the back of my mind and locked away in a little box for many years. My Dad’s transplant was successful, and he appeared to win the battle against his illness. However, he was soon back in hospital and his immune system became weak. He sadly caught MRSA which unfortunately led to him passing away.
From here, life changed for everyone and in a sense we became a broken family. My mum was grieving, doing her best to put on a brave face to support her children but really struggling at the same time. My brother, who was 14 at the time, moved to Edinburgh to live with his Dad and he began to go down a bad path with drink and drugs. My sister was now an adult, living her own life and often had a difficult relationship with my Mum which we all struggled with. It’s strange, I’m the youngest and still to this day I would say I’m closest to each of them individually and always hope that we can become a proper happy family but there has always been difficulties, including myself because I have made it hard as much as anyone.
Before the abuse and my Dad passing away I was a very happy child. I’m always told I had a big smile on my face, I spoke to everyone I seen whether I knew them or not and had a funny, well-mannered personality. I soon started to change though. I got into fights, I was involved in vandalism and I was often angry at home. The police soon came knocking at the door and I ended up with a social worker and had to do anger management. I kind of breezed through school without a care in the world and that continued into my adult life. I found myself in dead end jobs with no motivation for a decent career, my only real focus was drinking at the weekend and smoking weed everyday. The drinking did get out of hand, missing work frequently but that didn’t bother me and, at 22, I ended up unemployed for well over half a year.
I began to suffer with depression and anxiety. Not working and spending hours, days, weeks, months in my room by myself was not good for me. This is when the abuse, which I locked away in the back of my mind for so long came back to me and hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s hard to make sense of the movie when you’re in the starring role but you can’t talk to anyone about it in fear that you will be judged or made to feel ashamed, even guilty about what happened.
Alcohol became my only coping mechanism. It’s embarrassing looking back. I had no money, no job, but I didn’t want to work. I was totally dependent on my family and friends but would still go out for three-day long alcohol binges over the weekend. This realisation of what happened when I was child had now totally consumed me and found myself in a very dark place, especially when I was by myself. For the first time I had thoughts of suicide and I painted a horrible picture of myself in my head that I was this disgusting, worthless and disliked human being. Simple little tasks like showering and brushing my teeth become almost impossible chores. I became paranoid, insecure and my anxiety had taken control of me but I kept putting on this front that everything was alright. It’s extremely easy to pretend that everything is OK.
I flitted between family homes, and for six months I stayed with my sister in Edinburgh, but I locked myself away and didn’t make any friends. The first time I decided to get help came after I decided to go home for a weekend. I got so drunk on the train that I fell out with most of my mates and posted suicidal thoughts on Facebook. People were concerned, and I went to the doctors, but I wasn’t totally honest. I wasn’t ready to open up, even to a professional and I continued as normal, slipping back into the same old routines.
My life began to take a turn for the better though, as I got a job and met my now ex-girlfriend. I was genuinely happy for the first time and felt like I had a purpose in life. I started to care about my appearance, I gave up things like smoking weed and drinking for three days straight at the weekend. I felt healthier for it. It was nice to have someone you could sit and talk to for hours and hours about anything and everything. Even spending time with her family was great. It was always a laughing, joking, happy atmosphere in her house – something that I always wanted with my family. I felt like I had finally found somebody I could open up to and talk about what happened to me as a child.
When I did eventually tell her though, I was extremely drunk, and it made me feel worse because I felt she thought about me differently. I suppose it made me feel insecure about myself. I soon started to slip back into the dark place I was in before. I told a few close friends also, once again though I was extremely drunk and I never ever spoke about it sober.
I don’t do myself any favours. I am like a closed book and let things fester away instead of opening about my feelings, unless I’m highly intoxicated but that just brings out a huge explosion of emotion which actually doesn’t help at all. That horrible feeling idea of not feeling good enough and worthlessness came back to me. I started talking less, I lost my motivation, I stopped looking after myself, I liked being alone more than anything, I started to gamble more than I ever have in my life whilst trying to run a flat with her, I started to drink more again, I was beginning to miss work more often because of that and my behaviour whilst drinking started to become more and more unpredictable. Eventually, the relationship broke down, but she is not to blame. I know now that I am the only person responsible for my health and behaviour. I could of tried communicating better or go to the doctors and finally get myself the help I needed, but I didn’t.
The break up sent me into total self-destruction and I turned to alcohol. Each week I was getting progressively worse and worse mentally. I did try to get help, but there was a 18-24 month waiting list to see a specialist. I didn’t feel like there was any genuine help for somebody like me. My head and any rational way of thinking was soon completely gone. I would begin to cry a lot at home and wondered to myself if there was any point in being a part of this world anymore. I found myself unable to concentrate at work, and I became obsessed with suicide – even writing final letters to my loved ones.
Last year in October, I found myself at breaking point and decided to tell my brother and sister what had happened to me as a child. The following day, I came close to taking my life but decided not to after thinking about the impact it would have on my family and friends, especially on my mum. Staring death in the eye became an empowering moment for me – I had hit rock bottom and had nothing to be scared of anymore, and so I decided to confront my abuser, and I reported him to the police. I also told my mum what happened to me as a child, as well as sharing my story on Facebook.
In the end, the police did let me down. My abuser denied any wrong doing and the police took no action against him, but I found strength in the support that my family and friends gave me.
I felt sick after sharing my story on Facebook, but I received a huge amount of support from people. It was all very overwhelming and some of the messages brought a tear to my eye with the nice things people had to say about me. A fair amount of people I knew even messaged to say a similar thing had happened to them. I didn’t expect the reaction I got. I thought maybe people would look at me differently and judge me, but it was the complete opposite. Nobody at work treated me differently, my close friends assured me everything was going to be ok and that they were proud of me. I even popped into my local pub the next night and people gave me a hug or a handshake but that was it, everything was normal and it made me feel normal. Within just a few days I had realised that I did the right thing for myself and a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulder.
I have always been my own worst critic and my friends often tell me to stop putting myself down all the time. I know I’m not a bad person. I’ve made lots of mistakes, have lots of regrets, hurt people and been hurt just like everyone else. However, it’s time to try and put this all behind me, grow from all the experiences and not let them define me anymore.
I will probably never fully heal and will always have bad days but for the first time I can honestly say that I am looking forward to starting to live my life fully, instead of just merely existing. I have an amazing support group behind me with my family and friends. I am extremely grateful to have them all in my life. I have probably made it difficult for them at times with my behaviour but they still have my back after all these years and want the best for me.
I am heading into 2020 with motivation that I can make a real success of myself as I am still young enough to do so. I plan to get back into football, golf and start going to the gym. I also run a charity football tournament every few years in memory of my Dad and I will be doing that next year again which is a good thing to focus on. I thought 2019 was the worst year of my life but now I’m looking back at the whole year realising now it has been the biggest learning curve and most important year of my life. I have learnt more about myself this year than ever before so I’ll be taking all the knowledge I now have into 2020 and beyond to become the person I want to be.
Suicide is not an option now. Binging on huge amounts of alcohol is also definitely not the answer to cope with any difficulties that I will face in the future, it either just brings out the worst in me or makes me very sad. Things have been extremely tough at times obviously and not everyone will fully understand what it’s been like but there is a lot of people out there that are in a far worse situation than me. I thankfully still have a roof over my and also my full time job. That is a definitely a good base to move on with the next chapter of my life. With professional help that I am now in the process of getting organised for the beginning of 2020 and using the most important tool that I have realised we all have available to us – talking. I should hopefully be able to make progress in terms of handling my emotions better and change my way of thinking.
I am stronger than I could have ever imagined and I am very happy that I am still here to tell my story.
Kirky, A Survivor