Victim writing book of memories of sex abuse
A BRAVE survivor of sexual abuse is slowly piecing together the horrific attacks she endured as a youngster.
Mary – not her real name – was targeted by her own father when she lived at home.
But the events were so traumatic that her mind blocked them from her conscious memory.
It was during adulthood that some of the horrific memories hidden deep in her mind were unlocked.
Mary explained: "Things happened between me and my dad that I just buried really. It was only when I was 28 that things came back to me.
"They are very dim memories, it's like my psyche is protecting me from it and drip feeding things. Obviously because it was so traumatic."
But by talking to others, Mary is slowly piecing together her own history.
She explained: "I remember I bought some suede hotpants – this was in the 60s – and I wore them once and then didn't wear them again. But I didn't know why. And I remember the glass in the door to the garden had broken but I didn't really know why or how. I knew it was significant to me but I didn't know why.
"What I now remember is this, I'd come out into the garden in my hotpants, dad had seen me and came rushing over. I'd retreated into the storeroom that led out into the garden, he'd slammed the door hard when he came through to find me and broken the glass.
"Something happened that made me so ashamed that I never wore those hotpants again – even now I can't fully recall exactly what happened – but there's been a strong feeling around the broken glass and the hotpants that I've always been aware of."
Mary sought solace from the New Horizons group, run by Plymouth Community Healthcare, and has felt less isolated and more free to talk about her experience.
She added: "My siblings have struggled with it and that's made it very hard for me.
"Now both my parents are dead, I feel that there is a lot still hidden in me and I want to reclaim what our childhood was really like.
"I think it helps me to know, but it's a live question – is it worth it? Or is it better to keep it shut away?
"Painful and traumatic as it is, I feel more free knowing what happened to me."
As she tries to come to terms with what happened to her, Mary is determined to reach out to others who have been in the same position.
She has vowed to compile a book to help others.
And she is asking fellow survivors to share their experience.
She wants to pull individual experiences together and use it as a tool to empower others.
Mary said: "It feels very important to bring different people's voices and experiences together.
"One of the ways an abuser isolates you is to make you feel that you're special for having been chosen.
"This is a really powerful way of undermining that isolation."
Mary has been inspired to compile the book after she attended the New Horizons support group.
During the sessions, which dealt with various topics, Mary realised that everyone's experience was completely different.
She said: "I'd like people to get involved with this process. It's about sharing stories and helping people."
Mary is aiming to meet with people who are interested in contributing by April and have the book published by the end of the year.
It will include her personal story as well as contributions from her therapist and Heather Morfett and Lorna Coulson from New Horizons.
To get in touch with Mary in confidence email NHS press officer at firstname.lastname@example.org mark the subject 'Mary's book.'