End of week 5 :-o

26 days to go…

I’ve been using this weekly blog so far to keep those interested up-to-date with developments in the set up for the 10,000mile walk. I spend so much time and energy making sure the Road to Change will be a significant journey that I rarely stop to remember why I am even on this journey to begin with…

I speak publicly about being a survivor a lot. I’ve giving numerous talks to audiences literally across the world, over the past five years. Also, within the fictional story of ‘To kill a kelpie’, I patiently examined some of the emotions and related confusions that arrived in the aftermath of my developing mind as I grew up…BUT…The play leaves all details of the actual acts of abuse to the audience’s imagination, and I never speak in much detail about what the abuse was either, but when I consider WHY I have spent five years of my life working on awareness of this subject and WHY am preparing to undergo what is the most intense physical and psychological challenge I, or anyone I know, have ever attempted, for the next 18 months, the answer lies in those memories. The ones that I, a spokesperson for an organisation called ‘Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse’, never talk about…

Well…If you are a close friend, family or a survivor yourself, do not feel you must keep reading. The memories I am about to recall may distress some of you, but if you are someone who has no experience of what it is like to be abused, or perhaps your partner or loved-one is a survivor and they don’t tell you why they’re stressed, depressed, anxious or simply disengaged with life, then please take the time and read on.

Firstly, understand that child sexual abuse can happen in a million different ways in a million different situations. Some adult survivors have one memory. The instant when the child they used to be was violated. Some have so many memories, of countless violations, that it’s hard to pick just one which is more worthy of a shiver in recalling it than another. Some were abused so horrifically, their young minds erased the memory completely, to protect them from the certain pain of reliving it for the rest of their lives. For me, my uncle sexually abusing me wasn’t scary. I never screamed. I was never distressed. It was, I hope you can understand, just deeply annoying. Don’t allow that truth to let you underestimate the life altering damage it was doing to me, but the depression and self loathing and sexual confusion and suicidal thoughts all came much later. Ten years old, lying half-naked (the middle half, Hulk Hogan t-shirt pushed up to my chest and Jurassic Park pants still round my ankles) on my uncle’s bed, with my Gran down stairs and my friends out in the street, just the other side of the curtains, blinds and window. I could hear them, the whole time it was happening. My friends. Outside. Playing. Random shouts and laughs, at whatever game they were playing, while my uncle’s warm wet kisses left smoky tasting spit all over my wee hairless body. All I wanted was for him to hurry up and finish, so I could go back out and play before our mums called us all in for a bath…

I have so many memories of ‘cuddles’ with Uncle Terry, but at the same time, it happened so often that I can’t possibly remember every single instance. It was just something that happened in life. Like my dad telling me to make him a cup of tea, or my sister telling my mum that I ate all the Jaffa Cakes…typical day-to-day life of a kid, I always thought…I was in primary five when the first realisation that this wasn’t a part of everyone’s life suddenly dawned on me. Miss Kerr slammed the wooden chalk-duster on the desk and I jumped. She had just been talking about me always day dreaming and never listening, or something, and she’d caught me staring off into nowhere yet again…Only, this time I wasn’t staring into nowhere, I was staring at Nic, a boy in my class, also eight years old. I had been looking at him and wondering if his Godfather put’s his warm mouth around Nic’s boy-bits too or plays with them so much they blister and split so it’s burny when he pees…or if it was just me…

I knew I could never just ask him…I just wondered at lot…wondering things like this made me float off from many a teacher’s highly informative lesson…so, indirectly, my uncle took my ability to stay mentally present away too, as a kid, damaging my schooling…I spent most of High school in my head as well, replaying the naked memories…I didn’t need to close my eyes or concentrate, as long as my head was facing the black-board, I could sit in a crowded classroom hearing my uncle’s voice from the night before, commenting on how much I was growing…how much my ‘prick’ was growing…sitting in the cafeteria next to my laughing mates, pretending I was mentally present in their chat but all the while hearing his words and seeing us naked together but thinking it’s okay…it’s really okay, because one day I will go off, alone, get a train to the seaside and find a pier, tie my hands to my ankles and let myself fall in and I’d drown. I’d drown myself and then the memories can’t ever come back…that thought made me smile…sure, yeah, I’d be dead, but at least I’d have beaten the memories…

I left East Kilbride as soon as I could. I finished High School and just left. Left home. Left the country. Got a job in England where I knew no one and no one knew me, drafted my ‘Good bye’ letter and looked at maps for a good pier. I was ready to end the memories…BUT…An angel stopped me.

Chabob. My Kinder Egg. Rachel Hare.

We worked together, at a youth theatre for underprivileged kids in Wolverhampton. I had never told anyone what my uncle used to do to me.  The day I met Rachel, I told her everything.

She didn’t panic. She didn’t judge me. She just listened and, most amazingly, she believed me.

Rachel told me I was going to be okay and I believed her. She found me a place where I could go and talk to people who could help me. I began counselling. I began to heal.

I burned my ‘Good bye’ letter.

Rachel saved my life.

Starting counselling isn’t the beginning of the good times. It’s the beginning of healing but I can’t describe it as pleasant. It’s a space to examine your thoughts, dark and painful as they might be, and begin to find words for them. I don’t know if it would have been easier, or harder, to come to terms with all this if he had been violent or rough with me. It’s easy to understand why you’d be angry if someone shouted at or punched you. Not so easy to arrive at that realisation when someone who says they love you ‘lots and lots and lots and lots’ kisses you and makes your body feel things that you didn’t know it could do, but that you can only describe as ‘brilliant’…then the person takes you out in his car and buys you chips and a even the new ‘Bret The Hitman Heart’ WWF Wrestling figure, just for being the best kid ever…

I was 17 before I realised I was angry. And, at first, I wasn’t even angry at him. I was angry at God…

My folks brought us up as ‘Good Catholics’, so for two whole months of the year, every year, we’d sit together as a family, every night, and we’d say the Rosary. If you don’t know of it, imagine a prayer that never stops until you suddenly wake up and it’s the next morning and it’s time to go to school…that’s how long it is, for a six year old…Looking out the window at my friends, out on their bikes, I’d ask my mum, ‘Why do we need to say all these prayers?’ and mum always said the same answer: ‘So God will look after us.’

Hmmm…

Every child molester seems to forget this but kid’s aren’t stupid…I knew by the age of eight that what my uncle does to my willy when no one else is in the room shouldn’t be happening, but God wasn’t stopping him…God had never once stopped him and it’d been going on as far back as I could remember…As the abuse continued and the prayers continued, I just felt more and more detached. From my mum, family, school, church, everything…I felt sorry for them all. The poor things all really believed that there is an invisible man in the sky who will stop bad things happening to them, but I knew there wasn’t. I was eight and I knew better than them all. I had proof.  That for me was the difficult part. Having to be a good wee Catholic boy, with no faith, spending every day at home or in school pretending I was in the ‘same team’ as everyone else, when really I felt like an impostor. Pretending. I spent my childhood pretending…to believe…to be okay…to smile.

As I look back now, I struggle to identify a time or place where I felt I really belonged when I wasn’t pretending. I can’t think of one.

That’s just something else my uncles huge hands took from me…

Anyhoo…to be continued…

Enough for now. I’ll talk more about my journey from then till now as I go on the journey from here to Edinburgh (Edinburgh in Feb 2015, via 31 EU capitals) and how I’ve managed to recover from depression without medication and how I use my anger, over the years I wasted hating my own existence, to fuel a campaign to further the eradication of this situation from humanity. For now, though, I’m sorry if any of this felt gratuitous or too graphic. I just think it’s important that we, as a society, begin to admit we have a problem. Many people in our world like to have sex with children. FACT. Until we can admit that, that what happened to me, and my brothers, and millions of you, is happening now, tonight, and will happen tomorrow, until we can simply talk about it, how can we possibly begin to stop it?

A child is having their bodies invaded and their emotional and psychological development disrupted every 30 seconds on this planet. The damage can be invisible. Healthy happy kids can become self-hating mal-adjusted emotionally-inept adults, in one unwelcome smoky kiss from a ‘loved-one’.

We need to stop this. We need to Stop Child Sexual Abuse.

How?

We all need to Stop the Silence.

Thank You for reading

Matthew x

Terry and me, a good Catholic boy.

P.S.

The prep for the Road to Change is going great…more on that next week…x

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.