A few days ago I read this post from Jane at Practically Perfect Mums about historical sexual abuse. It struck a chord with me, and brought up emotions I thought I had hidden forever. I haven't slept properly since I read that post.
This is a blog post I have never considered writing. It's something which I have been so ashamed of that I haven't talked about it. I've kept it locked away for about twenty-five years. There are good reasons for that, but the main one is shame. I realise now that I have to get rid of that shame. Hopefully part of doing that is telling my story.
When I was a child, I was sexually abused by a stranger on a bus on my way to school.
I was unlucky.
But if it wasn't me, it would have been someone else. The likelihood is that if an individual is going to sexually abuse a young girl on a bus in public, that I'm probably not the only victim.
I filmed a video, because this is one topic which I've found is so much easier to talk about than to write about. Don't feel you have to watch it, I just found it good to actually talk about it.
Truth is, I'm still ashamed, but for different reasons.
I am ashamed that I didn't speak out.
I am ashamed that I didn't stop him.
I am ashamed that because of my lack of action, he may have done it to someone else.
What happened to me is a part of me. It makes me who I am, but I have never let it define me, and I never will.
The thing is, when I worked in prison I met sex offenders and scarily they appeared to be ordinary people. Nothing different stood out about them. There's no particular 'type' of person who is a paedophile. I am not trying to scaremonger. I want people to be aware that there is no set age and no set appearance.
I know that the chances of something happening to young girls by a stranger is far rarer than abuse from someone you do know. I can't speak out now. There's no point reporting a crime when I don't know the perpetrator and I can't even remember how old I was or what year it was. However, if you know your abuser, you can speak out. You can stop it from happening to others. You can make a change.
If this post and video help one person to speak out about what they are going through then I have done the right thing in publishing it. This wasn't an easy decision for me, but I feel it's the right one. I have always found writing to be cathartic and if there's one story in me that should have been told, then this is it.
If you have experienced abuse as a child in any form, then check out the NSPCC website. There is a huge amount of information there about historical abuse and also a helpline for you to call if you need to speak to someone.