When I was 10 years old I became vulnerable prey to a paedophile. These people know what they are doing. My parents had separated a few months earlier and I was missing my dad. The paedophile tried to take my dad’s place by ‘caring about me.’ The only ‘person’ I could talk to about what was happening to me was my teddy bear, Big Ted. I couldn’t tell my mum, step-father or my younger siblings. And I can never, never tell about any of the details – to anyone. Big Ted took the brunt of my shame during that time. When we moved away from the area a few years later I decided to hide Big Ted away in a box with a tight-fitting lid. He knew too much.
We moved house many times and Big Ted went missing along the way. I’ve spent my life looking for him… waiting for him to re-appear. I allowed my silence to suffocate me – allowed the memory of the paedophile to control my life. I thought it would go on forever. Then 10 years ago I ‘came out’. It finally burst from the core of me and I spilled out my 40-year-old secret. I went through 2 years of intensive integrated psychotherapy to deal with the layers and repercussions. I’d had nowhere to go with it before then. I felt free.
Ten years on, everyone’s talking about paedophiles. The JS explosion onto our screens and the media digging up his victims one by one has brought with it those familiar feelings of guilt and shame. They’ve resurfaced gradually and my memories have flooded back. I’ve begun to dislike myself again. When the JS case became a criminal investigation I knew I would have to deal with it, yet I didn’t think I needed the intense therapy I’d experienced 10 years ago.
A week ago, I was so desperate to talk to someone who would understand that I walked into the offices of HOPE. Tears flowed as I spoke to someone, which was a release in itself, though it confirmed that my own issues hadn’t gone away as I’d thought. It is crushingly painful looking at the past with adult responses because of the realisation of how much the adult self needs healing as well as the child self. My self-esteem, self-worth and confidence have taken a battering. I need to let go and learn to love myself all over again.
I’m looking for spiritual reassurance more than anything else, and, because I am a Christian, there’s the whole issue of love and forgiveness to deal with too. It’s a toughie. The first step will be hard when that step presents itself.
I have great empathy for the victims of JS. Whilst they may be due compensation from his estate (or whatever) it won’t make up for their suffering. Nothing will. And how can victims even contemplate forgiveness when no-one has actually faced them and said, ‘I’m sorry, what I did was wrong?’
The only positive thing about the mess that has become JS is that it has got everyone talking about the issue, instead of hiding it away in a box with a tight-fitting lid. It has also encouraged victims (even those unrelated to the case, like myself) to come forward and get the help they deserve, instead of rifling around in a cupboard for their teddy bear.
All Text Copyright © Julie M. Fairweather, 2012.