A few thoughts on ‘forgetting the past’, scars and Jesus’ scars.

Over the years I’ve walked the walk alongside survivors of childhood abuse in various ways. Either as a moderator for an online forum hosted and ran by a national charity (the forum has been closed a good few years now) or as a member of an organisation that was survivor led and facilitated conversation and support for those affected by abuse, working online, offline and at festivals such as Greenbelt. I’ve been around the survivor of childhood abuse community for a while. And most recently, over the last few years the surviving rape one too, having experienced the trauma of that almost 7 years ago.

And I’ve been around the church for quite some time too, on and off. Since I was a teen and I first walked into one, drunk and desperate to get them to kick me out to prove that all christians were intolerant. Ive had an up and down ride with the Christian faith, and with churches, managing to succeed in being asked to leave one as a late teen after much rebellion and eventually hitting the Pastor after he behaved and acted incredibly inappropriately hence my mistrust of most men in christian leadership/authority.

So anyway when it comes to the church/Christians/abuse/survivors I’ve clocked up a bit of experience.

Ive heard a lot of stuff. I’ve sat and heard a lot of stories. And I’ve heard a lot of how people especially Christians who are also survivors feel there is no place for them within a church. The church.

And I’ve been able to empathise with them. Its a feeling I’ve known all to well too.

Today I was reminded, yet again, just how badly the church often responds to people who have been abused. How incredibly wrong its gets it. Be it from pure ignorance or in some cases plain arrogance and black and white narrow mindedness.

And how damaging it can be.

I’ve had many things said to me over the years. Stuff like –

‘if you really are a Christian then your memory would be erased,  literally’

‘if you really are a Christian then you are a new creation and the past no longer exists’

‘god made all this happen to you so good can come of it, and it will turn into good – eventually, just stop dwelling’

‘just forget about it’

‘just focus on God and don’t think about it any more’

and much more …

As you can see Ive focussed on just a few of the things I and countless others have been told just regarding ‘forgetting the past’ which is what I am focussing on right now. I could rattle off hundreds of other statements I’ve had thrown at me regarding my salvation and forgiveness but thats for another time …

So back to the above … back to the ‘erasing our memories’ theory. Previous leaders I’ve had in the past, previous Christians I’ve come into contact with would have me want to believe that if I cannot ‘simply forget the past’ then I am not a Christian. Or that I am in the wrong. Or that I am not living abundantly. Or or or … or many other things. I could be here for the next 24 hours recalling some of the things I’ve had said to me over the years.

And now I have no idea where they get this notion from. I struggle to understand why they think you could just forget. Perhaps its because they have not had the same experiences? Perhaps its because their understanding of pain and trauma is very different to mine, or someone who has been abused. Perhaps they blindly accept what people above them tell them and go with it …

I don’t know, but what I do know is that I don’t believe Jesus erases the past. Why? Well, because He didn’t erase His own did He?

Something that first struck me properly this year over Easter. That when Jesus rose again on the third day after his death on the cross that involved nails piercing his hands, thorns on his head and slashes in his side He appeared to His disciples and SHOWED them His hands, and His side. Why would He do that? Why show His hands if there was nothing there to show? Later on, in John 20 we are told that Thomas disbelieved what the other disciples were telling him when they told him Jesus had returned, for he had not been there with them at that time. He said ‘unless I can put my fingers where those nail holes were, and put my hand into his side then I can’t believe’. Eight days later Jesus came back, and showed Himself to Thomas. The bible tells us Thomas then reached out to see His hands, and His side. The wounds of Jesus. And Thomas believed.

Jesus came back. WITH the wounds. With the holes in his hands. With the gaping side.

Why? Because they tell the story. I bet every single one of us has scars somewhere, physical or deeply hidden emotional ones that tell a story of our life. Some of us have a few. Some of us have many. But scars tell a story. Of something happening. Very rarely do we bare scars that have not come without pain. I imagine in fact nearly all of them come WITH pain.

And so Jesus’ scars on His back, on His head, on His side, and on His hands tell us His story. His story of the cross. His pain.

He didn’t come back with that story erased.

We see through the Bible that Jesus kept those scars. Going into Revelation 5 John writes ‘Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders’.

Jesus took those scars with Him to eternity. As @kellymoore777 said to me earlier on twitter – they are part of His royal robe.

And I believe we will take our scars to eternity with us too.

There is no erasing of the past.

My scars tell my story.

My scars are also starting to tell His story too. The story of healing and restoration that can only come through Him.

Scars are wounds that have healed. Are healing. And so I believe there is also hope to be found in baring scars. Because it tells of a story of pain, of open wounds, which have closed. Which does not mean we don’t remember what caused those scars in the first place, or the tangible pain we have felt when they occurred. It does not mean we do not sometimes go back to a place of feeling that pain. But there is hope in the healing of the wounds. Hope in the wounds of Jesus. That whilst He still carried the scars of His suffering, He still came back. He still had victory.

And I’m holding on to that. That, with His scars, that tell His story He has the victory.

And we can have the victory with Him too, WITH our scars.

And I don’t say that in a blasé way, I really don’t.

I live with scars. Many scars. Physical ones. And emotional ones. And I’m on a journey of really understanding what it means to carry those scars as a Christian. And I’m learning what it really means that Jesus himself was scarred. For me.

And its not easy.

But I just want you to know, if you have ever been told that you are not good enough, or that God does not want you, or that you cannot be a Christian if you do not ‘forget the past’- that is NOT the truth. It is so so far from the truth.

The truth is, as I am learning, painfully at times, that we can come before God as we are. With our scars. With our past. And whilst He will work within us, within our pain and scars, He will never expect us to ‘forget it’.

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This is for YOU.

I just spent some time chilling listening to music and writing. I had a blog I have almost finished and was going to post. But for some reason I was reminded of one I have posted before. And I just feel it needs to be re shared tonight.

This is for YOU.

 

This is for YOU.

I dont know if you are a friend, some one I say hi to once in a while, or some one I have not yet met, but this is for YOU.

I don’t know if your a friend of a friend, or a tweeter that just happens to pass by, or maybe this just lands in your lap because its meant to, whatever the case may be, this is for YOU.

I dont know where you have come from or where you are going, but this is for YOU.

I dont know the intimate details of your desires, but this is for YOU.

I dont know the deepest darkest secrets that you daren’t reveal, but this is for YOU.

I dont know why tears fall from your eyes like a never ending waterfall, but this is for YOU.

I dont know what hurt you hide behind the smile, but this is for YOU.

I dont know what the scars on the arms represent, but this is for YOU.

I dont know what the slashes that you hide behind clothes mean, but this for YOU.

I dont know the story behind your tired and weary eyes, but this is for YOU.

I dont know what it is that makes you curl up and want to die, but this is for YOU.

I dont know your story, but this is for YOU.

This is for YOU.

YOU are wonderfully unique.

YOU are valuable.

YOU are special.

YOU are good enough.

YOU are forgiven.

YOU are strong.

YOU are courageous.

YOU are brave.

YOU make the world a better place.

YOU have a purpose.

YOU have a future.

YOU are important.

YOU can hold on.

YOU can make it.

YOU can live through the darkest night,

YOU can rise up from the ashes.

YOU can lift your head high once again.

YOU can live in hope once again.

YOU can learn to laugh once again

YOU can learn to love and be loved once again.

YOU can dare to dream once again.

YOU are not a mistake.

YOU cannot be replaced.

YOU matter.

YOU are being thought of, right now, right this very minute.

YOU, yes YOU, beautiful YOU.

YOU are on someones mind, my mind.

YOU are precious and YOU are loved.

Some Father’s Day thoughts …

As soon as the words ‘Fathers Day’ burst into our shops and onto our TVs and radio it instils a sense of something in us. Each and every one of us has a reaction to it whether we like it or not.

Some of us might think ‘must remember to buy a card, must get the kids presents to give their dad, must do this, must do that …’ and so on. A day that interrupts the busyness of normal life but yet is a day to have as an occasion.

Some of us probably think ‘must book that pub/eating place so we can all gather to celebrate’ or ‘must get the whole family together for a meal’.

Some of us probably spend months and weeks searching for THAT perfect card and gift to give to the one person in your life who has been a constant. A constant source of care and love.

For some of us Father’s Day is a day of joy and celebrations.

Yet for some of us as soon as those words appear that tell us Father’s Day is imminent in our lives, it fills us with the dread of knowing that for next few months and weeks in the run up to it and including it we are not going to be able to escape the reminders that evoke feelings of pain and hurt.

For some of us it’s because we have lost our children or because they are not with us for many reasons.
For some of us it is because we have lost our fathers. Men we held highly, and loved who are no longer here.
For some of us it’s a reminder that we haven’t known who our father is. Never had a man in our life to call ‘Dad’.

And for some of us, it’s because we have had a man who is a biological father who has been in our lives at some/various points but whose behaviour and actions have left us with scars so deep that at times we’ve lost hope and belief that they/we can ever heal.

I’m one of those people. One of those ‘us’ in the sentence before this one. One the people who usually melts down at this time of year because all around all I see is ‘treat your father/love your dad’ and it reminds me of what he did to me. It reminds me there is no relationship there. It reminds me I have only seen him two times in 10 years and that when we walked away from each other at a meeting several years ago we would never be in contact again. It reminds me that he was vicious, violent and abusive. It reminds me that year after year of trying to be the daughter he would have pleased with it was never good enough. It reminds me of the desperation I have felt in past years of wanting to see that relationship repaired and rebuilt. That maybe if I did x and y that I could be his daughter. Properly. It reminds me that none of that is going to happen.

I say it reminds me – it doesn’t actually remind me because I never forget. How can you? I think what it actually does is magnifies it. Makes the wounds wider and bigger until the dust settles and some normality can be regained.

Today can be one of the toughest days of the year. One of the toughest days of any of the ‘celebration days’ we hold in the UK. For many of us.

For me.

And yet today, for me, has been the first Father’s Day in my history where whilst the sting is still there it feels as though maybe the power of it has been taken away slightly.

I went to church this morning – not something I ever do on Father’s Day. Not since 10 years ago when I walked out of a service because it had no idea …
But I knew weeks ago that today was going to fall on the first service after my baptism. So I made the conscious decision to be at it. Ironically because of a mix up on the coffee rota I ended up being at both of them when I didn’t need to be.

A week ago at my baptism I acknowledged publicly that I believe God is my father. Which only one or two people in the church would have realised the deep deep significance of. The last month or two has been a journey down the road of discovering God as that. And it’s been massive. It’s been overwhelming. It’s been life changing. Realisations and revelations that I can’t even put into written words have occurred and with the support of just a couple of people I’ve been able to speak out loud and process and move on with. I’ve been able to start the journey of recognising/realising and acknowledging that God is a Father God.

And today during the worship during one of the services I got overwhelmed. And outside for some fresh air did I go. And whilst I was tearful, and whilst it had all gotten a bit too much at the same time it all felt OK. I was OK. Usually my head is chaos. Usually my mind is throwing around one thousand different things and it breaks down because it can’t process and it can’t cope. Usually I leave a service because I wanna scream and yell. Usually I leave a service because I can’t cope but I’m so all over I don’t even know what I can’t cope with.

But today, I KNEW what was overwhelming. And for the first time it felt OK. Because weirdly I was feeling overwhelmed by God. I was overwhelmed with being in the midst of a community who know me. Who really really know me and who still accept me. And by being in the presence of a God who also really really knows me and accepts and who for the first time in years I feel fully at peace with. That was overwhelming. And it’s not the kind of overwhelmed I’m used to experiencing.

I don’t have an earthly father who loves me. In fact I have an earthly father who has caused untold pain and damage.

But I have a Godly one who does love and is love. And I’m at the beginning of the journey of discovering a whole different life knowing that and discovering more and more of Him.

And it’s made today more manageable than any other year.

IF today has been a day of rejoicing, celebration, happiness and gladness, that I am really glad. If you have a Dad, a biological one, or one who takes on the role, as a step, or as a role model, or as a male figure in your life, I hope you have been able to/have enjoyed spending time with them/or celebrating them in some way. I join you in wishing those people Happy Fathers Day. It’s been a real privilege to text a couple of people today who have been positive male figures in my life.

IF today has been a day of remembering loved and lost ones, then I hope in your grief you have been able to remember the good times.

IF today has been a day of pain, hurt, sadness, anger, darkness or any other negative emotion and IF today has done nothing but remind of someone you have never had, or of someone who has hurt you beyond your wildest dreams then I am sorry.

I have been and am thinking of you today.

The day I got into a fight with a street preacher and what I’m learning since …

When I first published the post below, on the ‘fragz’ blog a bit back, lots of people read it and loved the fact I had been so bold as to confront a street preacher who was behaving outrageously, in front of a large crowd. What only one person picked up on, in this blog was the last couple of lines, especially the very last one. They say this –

‘I believe that Jesus loves people, including this merry man. That He is full of grace, and mercy, and that He cherishes and sees all as worthwhile.

I just hope/long for the day when l fully believe that that includes me too’ 

And as I sit here tonight, trying unsuccessfully to come up with some words that reflect the journey I have been on, especially in the last 12 months I was reminded of this blog and those lines. 

I  got into a fight with a street preacher, on behalf of someone else. And I truly believed those truths that I shouted out. About that person. But not about me. I didn’t believe any of it was for me. 

But as I prepare for a weekend which involves saying good bye to the old and rising with Christ and into the new I’m realising that slowly, and painfully at times I am starting to recognise those things I talk about are for me too. That Jesus IS for me too. That grace, and mercy IS for me. That I am worth something to God.

The post below was originally posted October 2013

‘I was reminded the other evening about the day, a few years ago, when I got into an eyes red rage fight with a street preacher. Actually, maybe it is unfair to say that we had a fight, because I never gave him the chance to speak. I’m amazed actually that I didn’t punch the guy.

It was in the middle of a city centre. That I was visiting. And waiting for a friend to arrive for coffee.

A few minutes earlier, as I was arriving at our meeting place, I could see the crowd gathered, so being the nosey that I am decided to go and see what was going on. I stood at the back of the circled crowd of about 60 people, with shopping bags in one hand and a smoke in the other. And I watched. And I listened.

I was starting to get a bit bored, but decided to stick it out a bit longer because my friend had text to say they would be 5/10 minutes as they were running late.

So I stuck around and continued to watch and listen. And that’s when it got a little bit more interesting.

Because that was when someone else, who had also been watching and listening decided to have their say too. Someone who looked like maybe he had been sleeping rough. Someone who looked like maybe he could do with a good wash, a shave, some clean/non ripped clothes and a good meal or five. Someone who maybe looked as though he had been in a few scraps. Someone whose words were slightly slurred, because they’d perhaps had a little bit too much of whatever cheap alcohol he had been able to lay his hands on.

Someone who looked like they just needed some love and care.

Someone who felt that he needed to respond to what the guy on the stool was shouting. Someone who felt that life’s darkness and pain was better dulled with alcohol and drugs, and someone who felt that we could find our own happiness. He was someone who needed to tell the crowd to just be happy being who you are.

This guy made me smile. Because despite his obvious dishevelled-ness and alcohol induced merriness he had a beautiful twinkle in his eye (the eye that was not black and healing from wounds) and an apparent desire, however big or small to cling on to whatever life was offering him.

I’ll never forget seeing the shock in his face, and I’ll never forget the horrified feelings I felt when, whilst addressing the crowd with his own ‘be happy’ message, the preacher guy, having stepped down from his stool grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him backwards, so he could get back up on his stool, and tower above the merry man, whilst still having a grip on the merry mans shoulders.

And with one hand gripped on his shoulder, which appeared to make the merry man powerless to move, with the other hand he started waving and pointing at the merry man below him.

And then it started. The preacher man, holding and pointing started shouting at the gathered crowd, which was getting bigger as each second went by.

Addressing the crowd, pointing at the merry man he was shouting at the top of voice –

‘do YOU want to be like this’, ‘do YOU want to end up looking like THAT because if you don’t follow God you will’

and a couple of other things I don’t recall. I simply could not comprehend or believe what I was witnessing. And then he yelled

‘do you want to be like him? a nothing, worthless, a no one’

What? Did I just hear that right? Well I didn’t have to question long because a second after he said it the first time, he repeated it again, pointing at the merry man and asking the crowd if they wanted to end up like him, a nothing, worthless, a no one.

The look of bemusement and bewilderment in the merry mans face will never leave me.

It was at that point I saw red. It flashed across my eyes.

I grabbed my bags, stormed through the crowd, up to these two men, one on a stool with a firm hold on a vulnerable merry man and intervened. And when I say intervened I got hold of the merry man and moved him out of the way, and put myself in his place, but instead of facing the crowd and having this guy looking down on me and berate me, I got my finger in face and started shouting back as loudly as he had been shouting at the crowd.

As I said at the beginning, I’m amazed I didn’t punch the guy. Or swear. But I didn’t. However, my mouth ran away with me (what a surprise I hear you say) …

I shouted at him how dare he. How dare he speak to someone like that, how dare he lay his fingers on someone, how dare he pass judgement on someone. How dare he abuse and mistreat the vulnerable. How dare he suggest that someone was not worth anything? How dare he?

I shouted at him that the Jesus I knew would love a person like this. That the Jesus I know and I have read about in the Bible would love, cherish and care for a merry man like him, that the Jesus I know about is a Jesus who believes in people, all people, including this merry man being worthwhile, precious, valuable and definitely not a no body. That the Jesus I knew about was a Jesus of grace and mercy and kindness. And on I went, for about 5 minutes, telling him and the crowd about the Jesus I believed in which was everything opposite to what he had been preaching.

I ended by shouting at him that the Jesus I knew about would LOVE this man.

At this point, the merry man had wondered off. I stopped to draw breath and realised I had run out of things to say, so I picked up my bags, turned on my heels, leaving the street preacher speechless, and a crowd clapping and shouting as I stormed back out of the circle and back down the street we were in.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, simply because I have been thinking about it. Every now and then over the last few years I’ve thought about the merry man, wondered where he is now, and hoping he is ok. I hope that he knew he was/is loved by someone. And I’ve thought about the street preacher and the continued untold damage he is doing in ‘Gods name’ and hoping those that he affects negatively are being scooped up by gentle souls who can whisper the real truths into their lives.

I think about the anger it stirred in my soul. The red rage that flashed because someone in front of my very eyes was being told they were not worth anything. That person could have been anyone. It could have been me.

It has been me, over the years.

I don’t believe anyone, who ever they are, where ever they have come from, wherever they have been, whatever they have done is worthless.

This is what stirs my soul into action, to speak out against injustices when I can/when I see it, such as this time, or other times when I speak out loudly on behalf of other people.

Its what stirs my soul to work with vulnerable people, be it young people, the dying, people with mental health issues, people with learning disabilities, people on the fringes of society for whatever reason.

I believe that Jesus loves people, including this merry man. That He is full of grace, and mercy, and that He cherishes and sees all as worthwhile.

I just hope/long for the day when l fully believe that that includes me too’

Some thoughts on being a survivor and Jimmy Savile

I’ve been asked to repost the blog I wrote, in October 2012, not long after the initial first expose of Savile. So here it is – I was moved by how many people read it, and responded, and am reposting as the blog it initially was on is no longer active. 

Some thoughts on being a survivor, and Jimmy Savile.
Posted on October 13, 2012

The most talked about topic of discussion in my work place for the last few weeks has been Jimmy Savile. In fact, the most talked about ‘current affairs’ topic I have talked about full stop has been Jimmy Savile. It is what everyone is talking about. Even sat waiting in the Dr’s surgery earlier for my flu jab, were two little ladies sat discussing it. Discussing the ‘story’. The accusations. The revelations of the alleged, but now as the Met seem to suggest, not so alleged abuse. And those revelations have been coming out, thick and fast and as the days go by they seem to increase. So I thought I would try and coherently type out a few thoughts. I have had some passionate online conversation in various places, including Twitter, and have heard many many views/opinions spoken. Some sensible ones, some sad ones, some shocking ones and some unbelievable ones. But opinions never the less.

As always, when I write, I will say I am not an expert. Because I am not. Nor am I anyone who many people take any notice of. I am just a little drop in a big ocean who is finding her way through life and who likes to write as a way to process and say what I am thinking. What I have to say on this issue may not be relevant to anyone/anything. In fact it is most likely not to be. That is fine.

As said above, I’m not an expert. And thats true. And I start with saying that, but I don’t always start with what I am. And what I am is a survivor. A survivor of childhood abuse, from people within my family, and people around me. I was seriously bullied at secondary school at the same time as trying to deal with being abused as a primary school aged child. As a teen I was also, on top of the other abuse as a younger child and bullying, physically (violently) abused by another member of family. So I am a survivor. I am also a survivor of a totally unrelated ‘assault’ as an adult, one day whilst walking down a street I often walked down, in daylight.

I am a survivor of ‘trying to die’ because roughly 5 years ago life was so hard and tough that I felt there was no other option or way out. I am a survivor of hard knocks. I am a survivor who is learning to live again, learning to laugh again, learning to love again. And learning to be loved. Its a long process and I am always and forever grateful to those people who are in my life/choose to stay in my life and continue the process with me. Its not an easy one sometimes.

I am learning to live in hope. I am also learning that I can be a voice. Someone who can speak out. Someone who can tweet, write, talk, share and hopefully raise an awareness of what ‘surviving’ is like, whether that is surviving abuse, or surviving mental health illness. And as I continue to learn to keep growing as a person, and keep living in hope, I am learning to use the voice that I have. To speak out, to be that person who can potentially make a difference to someone, anyone (this is why I am not so worried about blog ‘stats’ – because if one person feels they are not alone by my sharing on here, then it is worth it). I am learning to, want to and try to be someone who IS able to speak out, on behalf of those who are not. And those who are not able to are many. More than you can ever imagine. And I used to be one of them.

One of the main reasons I got to the point of being suicidal (aside from the abuse) was the fact that I was unable to talk. To speak to anyone. To let anyone know the pain I was in. The hurt. The anger. The shame. The guilt. How could I possibly sit in front of someone, who would potentially judge, potentially tell me not to be silly, potentially tell me to ‘not worry about it’, to ‘get over it’, to ‘forget about it’. How could I, as a child possibly tell the people around me what was being done to me. The very person who was hurting me was an ‘outstanding member of the community, with an exemplary military service record and so on …’.

So, it has been interesting, and quite hard at times to hear peoples views of the victims of Jimmy Savile. The Jimmy Savile who for years was ‘held in high esteem’ for his charity work, his brilliant television career and other things. (If you have no idea who I am actually on about, and the kind’s of work/volunteer/fundraising stuff he did, google him). The Met Police released a statement in the last few days calling him a predatory child abuser. That gives the impression that there is no doubt that he carried out these alleged crimes. I can not possibly write all the accusations that have been revealed. The fine details of the case. But if you want to know more, just google, or go to one of the UK’s newspaper sites. Or the BBC. Its all there. The whole story gets more and more shocking and sadder as the days go by.

There has been much conversation about the ‘insitutions’ that Jimmy Savile was involved with. For example his involvement and work for the BBC. The hospitals, and schools that he fundraised for/volunteered with on his days off. Much of the earlier conversations I was involved with/heard was a conversation of disbelief. ‘What? Jimmy Savile? No! Don’t be silly. Not Jimmy Savile. Not the children’s/teen’s programme presenter. Not the fundraiser. Not the charity worker. Don’t be silly. Anyway, even if he did do something ‘dubious’ they (the victims) probably asked for it anyway’.

When I first, very first heard this break, I was horrified. Shocked, in a non shocked way. Shocked, because as a child, I idolised Jimmy Savile. The weird guy who wore odd shell suits, on TV, fixing up the world for children. I idolised him, and what he did. I wanted to write to him. For him to come and ‘fix’ my world for me. To ‘fix’ my problems. To ‘fix’ anything I wanted. I wanted him to be my second Grandad. He was amazing. As I grew up, got older, I became aware of him being an eccentric old man. I would never have thought ‘Jimmy Savile’ and ‘child abuser’ in the same sentence. Never in a million years. Yet, when I heard the news, at the same time as being shocked, I was not shocked. Because it is all so plausible. All so real. All so credible. And whats more, people who abuse can be anyone. Absolutely anyone. Including the powerful, rich and famous. In fact, those people are able to better disguise what they are doing. Better able to keep it away from the public, from prying eyes, and much more able to ‘pay people off’ if anything ever was muttered that was not favourable to them.

So, I fully believe it. I fully believe the victims. Because they need believing. They need, for once, at last, someone to say ‘yes, we will stand with you’.

Two of the ‘views’ I have heard a lot of this week have been ‘well why didn’t they report it back then’. ‘Why didn’t they just say ‘no”.

Because as the case has continued on, it would appear that some of these people were braver than I ever was as a child. They did report it. And yet were still ignored. The power and money of Jimmy Savile proved more than anyone was able to contend with. So what does that say to the others? Those who were unable to (understandably) find that voice to speak out, what does that say to them? Nothing whatsoever encouraged those who were unable to initally speak out, then to do so.

As for the second point. Anyone who utters the words ‘why didn’t they just say no’ truly does not have any understanding of how abuse works. Its not so easy as ‘just saying no’. ‘No’ does not work. ‘No’ has no power when you are being raped.

I have been quite shocked at times to hear the vitriol towards the victims. Another question thrown out a lot has been ‘well why did they wait until he was dead’.

My response? – They didn’t. There are records, investigations, programmes made that were shelved. Police starting to look into things and then mysteriously stopping. They did not ‘just wait until he was dead’. Many of them tried to speak out before he was dead.

From what I have read and seen, and understand, Mark Williams Thomas who is a child protection expert, and private investigator was the guy who ‘heard a rumour’ soon after JS’s death, and began to look into it. He then made a documentary, after speaking to one person he knew of. That then led him to the many other woman. My understanding, of the moment, in the documentary where he said ‘he then was lead to other victims’ suggests that he dug. He approached people. He made it clear what he was doing. And this gave courage and power to those people who have been victims of JS.

Imagine you are sitting in your school class, and you get called out by your head teacher. There is someone well known in the town, lets say the Mayor for example, who just happens to be rich, famous, and very well known and popular. They take you in to a room, and rape you. Abuse you. They are twice the size of you, and although you do say no, you scream, you kick, you try to get away they are able to overpower you. Hold you down. And they tell you that if you ever utter a word to anyone, you and your family will be made to suffer. Killed. Or you will be ignored. Not believed, and your life will be hell. They tell you that you are a slut, you asked for it, and deserve it. They tell you that is what people will say and think if you breathe a word. Imagine being so traumatised by what has happened, and so scared of it happening again that you have to do what they say. You have no choice. You are so ashamed of yourself, you spend your evenings scrubbing your skin, trying to get the dirt out of your body, carving your body to release some of the feelings inside of you. Your life is never going to be the same again. You turn on the television, and on the news there you see your head teacher and the Mayor. The Mayor has just fundraised and donated millions of pounds for a new tech facility at the school. The crowds are there. Its amazing. Everyone is talking about how fantastic these two people are. But you, you know different. You know what they did to you. But who do you tell? What will they do to you if they find out? Who is going to believe you? You have no idea that they are doing this to several girls in your class. Because, they like you, fear these two big powerful men. They too, like you dare not speak a word, because, hey, who would believe a 14 year old teenager who has been in a little trouble, like any teenager.

So you don’t say anything. Neither do the other girls. No one does. They get away with it for years, while you some how have to work out how to live. You get a job, start a family, live life. But the memories never go away. And then one day, in the paper you find out the Mayor has died (the Head teacher did years back). And you hear a little rumour that someone is talking about … apparently they used to rape young people. And then you realise this thing is so much bigger than anything you ever realised. And as an adult, who now has a voice, who now has nothing to fear because they are dead are able to, for the first time in your life speak out.

You realise there are many more people out there like you. More victims. And you are able to find courage to say what happened to you. To back others up. To add to the chorus of people speaking out, raising awareness.

Imagine that is you.

Would you have acted any differently?

I dont know if you would have.

I dont know if I would have.

But I certainly don’t blame or think that the victims were wrong to not be able to speak out back then.

And we must remember those who did. And who were ignored.

Which is what I think this current investigation will start revealing more information on.

WHY were those people who did speak out ignored?

WHY were people who were in positions of authority back then, and then continued to be in high powered places not say anything.

WHY was this allowed to happen?

So many questions. So many thoughts. So many views and opinions and so so much more that I could write about. Discuss. Talk about. Mention.

But what I would like to end with, for now, as I may well come back to this again sometime, is please don’t forget the victims. In all of the talk, the chit chat, please don’t forget that out there are people, woman, and maybe men who are victims.

People who have had what can only be described as the worse possibly life changing abuse perpetrated against them.

Whether we think they ‘should have spoken out sooner’ or whether we accept that they were unable to for the various reasons outlined roughly above, and the many other reasons that I probably have not even touched upon, whether we think they are ‘out for the money (which incidentally is going to be extraordinarily hard and very doubtful for them to get) or whether we think they are very brave people who have found strength because of circumstance, because of the fact that they are no longer afraid, and because other people are speaking out they are able to voice their experiences, please remember they are the victims.

They are the victims who, at the time and most likely for many years after felt so alone, now have found out they are with others. Others are with them. They are not alone.

Let us stand and let them know that. Because being a survivor can be a very lonely place to be.

Please know, if you are a survivor, you are not alone. You are not guilty. It was not your fault.

A poem.

A black ocean above, full of bright shining stars,
Beaming down on a life full of scars.

Vast vast skies of dark overflowing with light,
Seemingly unaware of the terrors of night.

Always lurking, never going away,
Even when you think they’ve been kept at bay,

Ready to creep in, ready to invade,
Always keeping you on guard and afraid.

The battles will continue on and rage,
Always wanting to keep you locked in the cage.

Hold on, hold on, don’t let go.
For never again will you go so low.

Do not be overcome, do not fear,
For hope has come, and He is here.

Starting to unlock that big heavy chain,
That keeps you held in all the pain.

Wanting to love you, hold and heal,
Desperate for you to see He is real.

One step at a time, moving in a new direction,
Allow yourself to come under His protection.

Rest for a while, and let the tears fall,
For He sees them and will catch them all.

A black ocean above, full of bright shining stars,
Beaming down on a life full of scars.

© Helen