Survivor's stories

Jade's Story

I was repeatedly sexually abused by a ‘friend’ of my family from when I was 6 ’til I was 13. I don’t really remember my childhood. I reckon I disappeared out of my body so I could deal with what happened. My counsellor says that it's called dissociation or something. It’s kinda of like a person is not really there – only their body is. So that’s how I got through it.

Anyway, as I got into my teenage years it became harder to disappear away. I started feeling so angry. I just wanted to explode. Have you ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw? I did. Every time I looked in the mirror I wanted to squirm out of my own skin. I hated my body; it was the thing that was abused. I hurt it in so many ways. You name it, I did it – self-harm, getting too fat, getting too thin, I got drunk, I got high. None of it made me happy.

I had no friends for years. I felt so alone. I did all the wrong things. I told lies about people, put them down and treated them bad. I didn't know what to do with my anger and hurt so I just lashed out at everyone. I hated life.

Things were bad at home. My family and I didn't talk. We would go for days without saying anything to each other. I guess we were all in our own worlds, so I moved out of home as soon as I could.

One day when I was being really horrid to my flatmate, Mandy, she turned around to me and said, “Jade, I have been where you are. You are destroying yourself. You are so focused on screwing up your life. One day, soon, you'll succeed – is that what you really want?” For some reason this made sense, there was a ‘clunk’ in my brain. I shouldn't hate and destroy myself because I was abused. That's not right.

It was time to do something. I started out by looking at lots of stuff to do with sexual abuse on the internet; there were a couple of sites for survivors where I started to get some support. It was so good to know there were other people who felt similar things to me.

I started gathering names of counsellors, but it took me about 6 months to get the courage to actually call and go and see one. I tried out a few of them and then found my current one. It took me ages to trust her. But I never knew it could feel so good just to talk and know the person sitting across from you understands and won't judge you. She can't solve my problems, but she is helping. It seems I have so much to work to do in counselling, it's a long journey to go on.

I'm now 22 and am still seeing her. Sometimes I still get angry, but the anger is aimed in the right direction now – at the man who abused me.

These are the things I know:

  • I know that I'm a good person no matter what happens to me.
  • I know I'm going to make it.
  • I know I'll never abuse anyone like I was abused.
  • I know that I need help and I'm not afraid to ask for it.
  • I know that I did the right thing by finally telling my story.
  • I know my future will be as bright as I make it.

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Aaron's Story

I held this secret inside me for so long, and to me it was so big, at times I felt I was going to explode. I was sexually abused from the time I was 11 to 17 years by a female family ‘friend’. The abuse really affected every part of my life. I felt guilty and ashamed and I carried a secret that I felt was so terrible, that if others found out it would be an end to my world. I found it really hard to truly relate to people and I trusted no one.

Since I was little I have believed everyone should feel good about themselves. Because of my experiences, I did not; my life was very confusing. That confusion, my building anger as well as seeing how many others were living with similar experiences were huge driving forces for me to do things to make myself feel better. I knew I needed to put the shame and guilt back where it belonged - with the woman that abused me.

The person I spoke to first was a friend from my workplace. I had looked for quite some time for someone I felt was ‘safe’. This person had spoken to a few people about their own issues and seemed very understanding and non-judgemental. So many feelings ran through my head prior to talking, all of them ‘what if’s’. What if they don’t believe me? What if they think it was my fault? What if they think I am disgusting? What if…? I was very lucky I had chosen someone that was very understanding and received some great advice.

In 2001 I went to a counsellor to talk about things. Approximately 10 months later I went to the Police and laid a complaint. Charges were laid and in 2003 the woman that abused me was found guilty of four charges of sexual violation and was sentenced to six years imprisonment which was reduced to five as this was her first offence.

I needed to heal and there were lots of things that helped me with that. Talking, writing, reading, moving. I think the big thing was to do something and not to squash myself like I had done for so many years. When it’s just in your head it can be quite overwhelming. When you start to let it out, it begins to take the pain out of it and you can get a bit of balance back into your life.

I believe that the shame and guilt created from being abused is not for the victims to hold on to. I want to show others that firsthand so that they know it was not an end to their life.

Some days it can feel as if everything is too much, but know that you are not alone. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Write, read, laugh, cry or exercise. Whatever feels right, but the most important thing is do it for yourself and do it knowing you deserve better.

I no longer see myself as a victim or a survivor but simply as me, a human being. Free. I believe everyone should feel good about themselves. I am proud to say that I do and I truly hope you do too.

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Emily's Story

I don't remember when it began. I just always knew something was not quite right.

There were games, secret games. It takes a lot for me to say this, but my father, my biological father, sexually abused me for most of my childhood. He didn't touch my brother, I'm happy about that. But sometimes I did wonder if my brother knew what was happening to me.

Apparently dads sexually abuse their children more than people think. But it wasn't just my dad. I don't remember much of it. I've blacked most of it out. It's like I have these big fuzzy black holes in my memory. I don't remember anything really until I was about 10. Before then all I have is colours, or objects, and emotions. One thing I do remember is that he had friends, friends from church no less. They hurt me too.

I felt worthless. Like not even my dad could love me, so why should anyone else. I learned that if I tried hard at school, got involved in after-school stuff I wouldn't have to go home. I became really good at finding stuff to do after school, even if it was just going to the mall with friends. I was determined to be normal. It took a lot of energy to hide my feelings, to not let anything show. Sometimes I just couldn’t hold it in; I cried a lot, but only when I was alone. I was afraid if anyone found out they would look at me differently, see that I was broken, or something.

I never told my mum. I just didn't know how. My dad had already established that I was a liar, everything that went wrong in the house was my fault, and if I tried to say otherwise it proved that I was lying.

I got better at avoiding being alone with my dad and his buddies. If I knew my mum was away and my brother was out I would just not come home. Sometimes I stayed away for days at a time. I wonder what my mates’ parents must have thought I was forever asking to come over for tea, or to sleep over. They may have thought it was odd, but as far as I know they never actually looked for a reason why I didn't want to go home. I was from a ‘good’ home - my parents had well-paying jobs, my dad was highly respected in the community and the church. Everyone thinks he is such a great guy, he even volunteers for the local fire brigade.

I left home at 17. I moved overseas. I went as far away from my dad as I could. Distance didn't help, I still felt like I was worthless.

I finally told my boyfriend one night after watching ‘Boys Don't Cry’. He just thought I was upset over the film, and then I told him about my dad. He was so angry. I had to calm him down, which was really hard when I was so upset. He asked lots of questions, most I couldn't answer. Then over the next few months we just talked. It was really nice to be honest with someone. We almost broke up over it a couple of times. I would be angry at him, or just expect him to know how I was feeling, it was really unfair. Neither of us knew how to handle this.

Recently we had this really big fight. I was screaming at him, blaming him for all sorts of things and he just turned to me and said, “I am not a therapist, I don't know how to deal with this!” I’m now looking for someone to talk to about all this. I know it will be hard and nothing I do will change the fact that I was abused, but I want to be in control of my emotions and not feel worthless. I don’t want to hide my feelings anymore.

I want to feel that I don’t need to be fixed, ’coz I was never broken.

This is just the beginning of a long journey for me. I’m scared but I know things will get better. I have a close group of friends who are really supportive and with their love and support I reckon I’m going to be OK.

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Just a heads up, this website has some stuff about sexual violence which might be upsetting,
especially if you or someone close to you has experienced it.

If you find yourself getting upset, make sure you get support or take a few deep breaths
and think about something that makes you smile.

Some of the topics in here may also conflict with your beliefs.
We think that if a person is harming someone, or their human rights
IT IS NOT OK - no matter what your beliefs are.

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