During the long summer holiday, When I was 10, I would play on the park with my twin brother and my friends. We would taunt the older kids into chasing us by calling out silly names to them.
If they caught us, they would rough us up a little, it was fun being chased.
After a few evenings the game changed, or the consequences of being caught did. If caught, instead of being roughed up, we would have to drop our pants and masturbate ourselves, or our friends. I had no idea at the time what that was…
This went on for a few weeks. Same thing, taunt the older kids, young men really 18 or so, only the consequences became more serious. Now when we were caught, we would have to perform oral sex on them, the older kids, or on my young friends, or my twin brother.
One day my mother found out about this when she was in the bathroom with us when we were washing. She noticed a hickey on my brother’s neck and wanted to know who had done it.
The police were called, my brother and I were interviewed, as well as my friend who lived opposite from us.
It was awful really. I was in my front room with a female police constable, how was I supposed to tell her what happened?
Things were different back in 1981, there was none of this “show me on a teddy bear where he touched you”.
My brother and I gave conflicting statements and so the police couldn’t really do anything. Something bad had happened, as for me and my brother, time would tell. Maybe we would need counselling. That’s the advice my mother was given by the detectives.
That was that then. Back to normal, only when I went to call on my best friend over the road I was no longer welcome.
I was told under no circumstances go back to the park, stay on the street. So as any typical 10 year old, I went against my parents’ wishes and went back to the park.
I met up with the older kids, they were pissed the police had been involved. I went with them to their ‘friends’ house to sort it out. There was a man who lived there and he raped me.
I never told anyone, not my parents. They would have been so mad at me for leaving the street and the last thing I wanted to do was get the police involved again. I didn’t even tell my twin brother as he would have snitched on me.
Shortly after this it all started getting weird and has been weird really ever since.
I remember what I now recognise as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) symptoms a year or so later when I was a first year in secondary school.
I would have thoughts, very scary and they would come true unless I performed a mental ritual.
I would hide under the covers and “banish the bad thoughts away” until I fell asleep.
I would also count in my head to cancel out the thoughts as well. 12345 12345 12345.
I would feel great anxiety with the slightest imperfections in my toys, and in my clothing.
I also became convinced that Jack the Ripper was after me and this was a recurring nightmare that came into adulthood with me.
What if I were gay?
What if I had aids?
Lastly adding insult to injury, I was going through an awkward phase where I was infatuated with a boy at school, and also had strong confusing feelings towards a grownup violinist I knew. I would do anything to make either of them notice me.
These feelings are terrible for an 11 year old to suffer. I just wanted to be ‘normal’, but was anything but.
OCD thrives in these circumstances and it would have its grip upon me well into my forties.
There would be variations with the symptoms as the disease attacks what we love and fear the most, and adapts to us as we change, adapt or grow. It’s a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The antagonist knows us intimately, our hopes and fears and attacks us without mercy.
I suffer from hypervigliance as a result of the trauma suffered as a child and the fallout from that.
However at the time I had no idea and I was convinced my hypervigliance was actually me becoming a pedophile.
I would look on the internet for pictures of boys, and would analyse my thoughts and feelings whilst looking at the picture, searching myself for any evidence of arousal.
To add to this misery, the anxiety and the resulting panic attacks I was experiencing were causing almost phobic reactions to certain situations from which I had no escape eg. planes, elevators, car trips involving highways, tunnels and bridges, police cells!
I have over the years walked off of countless flights at London Heathrow and at Boston Logan airport because the anxiety and panic was so great. A trip to the USA would take days of walking onto planes, and then running off of them at the last minute. I was on first name terms with many British Airways and Virgin employees and flight crew because of the time spent between flights and the constant reassurance I would seek from them. It got to the stage they wouldn’t load my bags until the last second because of the disruption it caused removing them from the cargo hold when I bolted seconds before departure.
Many times I have planned my suicide, the method and when, the 10 year old locked deep within me looks back at me with tear strained eyes because he desperately wanted to live, and to be like all the other boys, and as I would kill myself gladly, I will kill him also, and he is still there, even after all this time for our young selves never die, they just get buried under the layers of our lives like the growth rings of a tree, only to be exposed, once again, when we are deeply cut into.
After all these years I still can’t imagine my future life or see myself in the future. There is only one thing that I know: I am here and I am writing about it, maybe to make peace with all my demons, or maybe just to share the immense pain caused by the abuse. It took me years to do it, and I am glad I did it.
OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) can impact survivors of sexual abuse. Rituals adopted in a desperate attempt to feel in control can take over a person’s life and can add to the secrecy and shame survivors often already experience. Therapy and counselling can help. If you or someone you love is a survivor and is impacted by this blog, please do get in touch with us.