Dear Jury…..

20th November 2013

Dear Jury,

I am writing to you because I am struggling to understand your decision. Were you so easily swayed by expensive words? Were you so repulsed by the details of my life that you had to pretend that they were fictions? Were your memories so poor that it just took a week for you all to forget my words? Were you also fooled by the smiling predator sitting in his glass cage? Or taken in by the people who were willing to lie to protect him?

I am struggling to understand your decision, you see. I know that it took me two decades to wrestle with enough of my fears to be able to stand in front of you. It took all my strength to walk into that court room and not run, run, run as far and as fast as I could from who else was in there. It took all my courage and breath to take one step after another up the steps and to stand in the witness box and let the prosecutor with her careful scalpel slice open all my old scars so that you could see the details of my wounds and the damage done. And I stayed there, and displayed my humiliations in front of you. I willingly looked at the photographs of my pain, and the pictures of the weapon used to inflict some of that pain. I held nothing back; I kept nothing to myself. I did not shield myself from any of my terrors. I told you all the dirty truth, the full- and half-remembered truths, the parts I had struggled to recall and wished so hard to forget. And then I kept on standing, kept on breathing, kept on not running away as the defence pushed and pulled, prodded and poked with her vinegar soaked hands into those raw wounds. I held my head up and answered every grain of salt she tried to embed deep into that raw screaming flesh. And I stood there and let her do that over and over, and then over and over again. For a day and a half you watched her deliberate cruelty, and you sat there. In all, I stood there for two and a half days and exposed my hurts in front of the very person that had taken pleasure from them and in the nights between I howled into my pillow and hoped that no one heard.

And why did I do all this? Why did I agree to this? Because when I walked into that courtroom I took the small scraps of faith in humanity that I still had with me. I took with me the desperate belief that even I, used and damaged though I may be, deserved to be heard. I laid not just my wounds but my heart’s hopes in front of you. I trusted you…

Well I guess I should have known better. Trust is a thing to be broken like old dry twigs and set to burn away to ashes. Certainly your verdicts taste like ashes in my mouth. So I just want to know: why did you turn away from truth and swallow the lies? I laid my faith in Justice and you all as Her hands and you have failed me. And now I wonder if you left the court buildings at the end of that final day with any thought for the consequences of your actions. You, the jury, acquitted my father. And you, the jury, gave him permission to walk out of that court secure in the knowledge that he had got away with repeatedly raping and abusing his child.

And all I have left to say is that somehow I will survive you too.
Yours sincerely,
The victim.

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Seen to be released

Do old pains need to be expressed, acknowledged or made visible? What is it with us humans that creates a need to be witnessed by others in order to believe ourselves? And why has the mirror image become more ‘real’ that that which is being reflected? Do we truly not know a thing until it is seen or heard or acknowledged in some way?

Today I had a phone conversation with a friend and they told me that over recent days they had been thinking about me and my past. My friend acknowledged my past, and my hurt, and my successes in my life also. And I cried. I cried good healing tears, the sort that release pain and leave a measure of peace in their wake…
And this leads me to wondering if I need my pain and my accomplishments to be acknowledged. If I need my hurts to be seen before I can heal from them… That both feels right in some way and also brings some sense of vulnerability and exposure. And a little frustration. It would be more comfortable if I could do this all myself, if I needed nothing from others in order to recover from what was done to me. I don’t like the feeling of being dependent on others and when you have been a child victim then it really sits uncomfortably to think that your healing as an adult may be reliant, at least in part, on others…
It’s an idea and a feeling that I think I will have to sit with for a while…

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Trying to move

Sometimes it hurts too much to move. Strange how emotional pain can make our bodies react the same way as physical pain does. I sit huddled over trying not to move. My eyes burn with unshed tears, my throat burns still drier. All week I have wavered on the edge of a personal abyss and now the weekend has come it seems like some part of me has decided it’s okay to slip over that edge.
I had one brief moment upon waking where light shone on my day before the familiar greyness descended.
I don’t know which way to go next to best help myself. I don’t expect to be rescued. “No one is coming”. The only way to get out of this is with my own efforts but right now I’m scared to move for fear of the pain worsening. I’m just trying to wait it out…

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Morning music moment

I usually listen to the radio in the morning. It’s not always my favourite kind of music but it helps me to feel connected to the world outside. This morning the latest single from Rhianna came on the radio. I’m not sure what it’s called but the chorus is: “I found love in a hopeless place”. That set me to thinking whether the lyricist had ever had PTSD too…

Let me clarify; I am an optimist. Always have been and I guess I always will. No idea why – I guess it must be my survival instinct coming to the fore. But why then did this track resonate so strongly with me this morning? Answer: my daughter’s bad dream. Now you’ll have to go with me a little ways to understand this one..
Last night my daughter had a scary dream; she’s still quite young and had woken up around midnight crying having had a dream that we were all in danger. As I sometimes do in such situations, I bundled her up and brought her into my bed for the night where she slept deeply and peacefully in the way that young children can when they feel safe and secure. Unfortunately I did not have the same experience – one of the more frustrating after-effects of prolonged childhood trauma for me is that my defences are on high alert when there is another person in the bed with me. It doesn’t stop me sleeping but my dreams are difficult and I wake feeling stressed and needing a lot of peace and quiet to let that threat-alert system calm down. And that brings me back around to Rhianna and her latest track… It feels like relationships; loving personal relationships where people usually relax in each other’s company and sleep next to each other are a hopeless wish for me. My mind and heart feel completely safe and secure with my daughter next to me but my body cannot follow along – how then to deal with a partnership? So if I ever were to find love, it feels like it would be a hopeless place indeed. Morose I know, but even I cannot be optimistic about everything…

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Feeling a little uppity

I was surprised and annoyed yesterday at school when I discovered that our local authority’s web filtering service for schools had a block on http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

I could see no valid reason why a website that details the lives and circumstances of ordinary american citizens should be blocked. Then I realised that someone had actually requested that it be blocked. In the UK we have had an erosion of civil liberties and civil rights over the past few years and decades and maybe I am just being naive but I would have thought we should be teaching our kids that there are peaceful ways of engaging in civil protest; ways in which each individual can be heard and can join together in an attempt to make the world a fairer place for all of us.

I have of course requested that the site be unblocked, though I am still waiting to hear what the response will be. In the meantime, here is a little act of protest of my own..

I encourage you all to visit the follow site and support a campaign that you agree with:

www.change.org

Go on, make a difference.

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Doing something worthwhile and feeling good

So after a bout of feeling sorry for myself, I have kicked my own butt out of that headspace and reminded myself of how rich my life is: I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, healthy children, good friends, a job and so much more. And here is just one way that I like to do something worthwhile and get to feel good whilst helping others. Go on, click on the logo below and give it a try. You’ll feel amazing!

http://www.kiva.org/

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Touch me

"Comfort" by Mellifluous Murmurs

Touch me. I want you to touch me. I want to be certain I can still feel it, that I can still let someone touch me. That I can let someone in. Some days I wonder. I see people around me connecting emotionally with each other and there is a film of unseen silk around me, a silent shroud that wraps around me and insulates me from the world. It separates me by with the thinnest of barriers and yet it seems impenetrable. And I’m not sure whether I want people to break in. Yet I crave touch at the very same time that I wrap the folds around me and hold them closed. I want you to touch me, and I may well run away if I think I see your hand reaching over to mine. I wish… I wish so many times that my mental health would be better, that I would be stronger, that I could heal more or better or faster or… well…

The trouble is that what I need you to see is my pain, and I do not want to display that like some self-indulgent self-pitying martyr-complex victim. Hmmm,that sounds harsh I know but I haven’t yet found a way to go easy on myself with this. Now there’s another wish…

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Calling on the Remover of Obstacles…

I’m not Hindu, but I can certainly do with the help of Lord Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles…

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Running to jump on

I’m looking back over the last couple of months and all that has happened and wondering why my mind shys away from taking that overview. In May I finished a course of psychological treatment for PTSD, made and acted on the decision to make a complaint to the police against the person who had abused me and then a week later found out that my oldest friend had just been told he had terminal cancer and only a couple of weeks to live. I went almost straight from a police video interview suite to a campbed in a hospice. Well okay there were a few days in between, but even so…
And I stayed with my friend, through the afternoon parties in his room with friends with laughing and joking and his favourite foods and drinks that we all shared. I stayed with my friend through the quiet mornings and evening where we talked honestly and openly about anything and everything that he or I wanted or needed to say to each other. I stayed with my friend through the nights when his pain held him tightly and we waited for the drugs to work. I stayed with my friend as his breath grew hard to find and his body slowed and finally stopped. And I stayed with my friend as his spirit moved on leaving the husk of the man I had known and lived behind. And then I, along with his other closest friend, wept for our loss and smiled for his release and journey onward. We arranged his funeral and his wake, we went through all his things and dealt with them as needed. And then I went back to work after almost 4 months sick leave.
And the first full day back at work was punctuated by a lunchtime telephone call with a detective who informed me that my abuser had been arrested the previous evening, found in possession of illegal firearms and a large quantity of photographic, video and computer materials had been confiscated for further investigation.
As one of my friends says “you couldn’t write this shit, and if you did no one would believe it” …
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get mortgage sorted out on my house as it seems to be taking an age and a half.

I’m still trying to get my head around the facts of the last few months, never mind being aware of and dealing with the thoughts and emotions that accompany and follow those facts. I seem to be possessed of a slightly bemused drifting state of mind in which all I can do is go along with the flow of the universe without thinking too much about it…

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Bad Dreams and Full Heads

Sometimes sleep comes to me as a friend to help me shut off my over-full mind. Sometimes it is a refuge from the day. And sometimes it comes slowly and unwillingly as if a part of my self turns restlessly over and over, refusing to let go and give in to sleep.
No matter how it comes though, my dreams are usually unquiet, stressful and nightmare-ish when viewed in the light of day. I clench my teeth together in my sleep against the trauma of the dream experience – a decades old habit which has caused me to break and lose a number of my teeth over the years.
Last night was typical for me. Today is the first day back at school after the Spring Break and I dreamt about going to work in my pyjamas and trying to teach a part of a class even though I knew that the supply teacher was there and I wasn’t expected to be back at work yet. At different points I was a child and an adult. At times being asked my managers when I was going to be working and at times telling me I should not be there – intermingled with getting on the wrong bus, being attacked by larger girls who were older than me, my room being a terrible mess with no space for anything and other such moments I now forget.
And then I wake, feeling upset and irritable. I am exhausted from the night and the effort of getting up and getting the kids off to school with all that they need for the day. I just want to hide away and ignore the whole world but I can’t. Instead I have to get in my car and get myself off to the Occupational Health dept. at the local authority offices in the next town to talk about when to start the “phased return” to work. Well I guess I don’t need to worry about being rushed back to work with the state I am in today!!
I need to get myself through the next hours before I have the freedom of some time to myself… at least for a little while before it is time to pick up my youngest and resume the competent parent role. But as is usually the case, writing has helped me to find a place to move forward from. And if today those forward steps are small and shuffle-like, well at least I am still going. Big leaps can wait for a stronger day.

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