A Journey of Missed Opportunities

Preventing Suicide in Adolescents was the theme for the conference delivered by HSSCP & South Tees Safeguarding Children Partnership. Professionals across various agencies working with children attended the event.

This week I delivered my second workshop as part of this event.

The title of my workshop was CSA, the consequences of trauma: a journey of missed opportunities. This was the first time I’ve used my own story as the sole case study and participants were asked to identify indicators I might have shown and where the missed opportunities occurred. There was a breakout activity for small group discussion on how to open conversations with child survivors.

When there is an increase in child suicide and professionals come together to try and work out why, and what can be done to prevent it, really the only people who can tell us why are the children but they can’t because they’re not here anymore. By rights I shouldn’t be here either.

The Flying Child Project

I’m grateful to have been given this opportunity to work with Barnardo’s. They are an example of a large organisation who bring lived experience consultants into training. They don’t exploit. They value the voices of people they support and I have felt treated as an equal. I was lucky to be working alongside a wonderful and experienced consultant social worker who has supported me every step of the way and facilitated my workshops.

The first one challenged me unexpectedly and this was not necessarily reflective of retraumatisation – it is natural and provides opportunity to reflect, process and adjust. I took steps to identify what I needed to keep myself grounded, especially after the event, and as a result I felt the second workshop went exceptionally well. Online training is very popular but I do prefer face to face. One thing I’m not keen on is the lack of decompression time after presenting online. I know I must build this time in and not move immediately on to the next thing. I’m constantly learning and every training is slightly different because I listen to feedback, notice my own response, take on different points of view, and adapt my training accordingly to create content that speaks to the majority.

Suicide can be an outcome of child sexual abuse. Trauma related behaviours such as self harm, substance misuse can all lead to this outcome.

The Flying Child Project

I am a multiple suicide attempt survivor. My first attempt was at the age of 14 and nobody ever knew because I was so adept at hiding both what had happened to me and what was going on in my head. I have found myself reflecting on why I’m still here and how I’m not one of the case studies in this conference.

It is not because I had strength that others didn’t, it simply comes down to luck.

I was introduced to the right help and the right people, at the right time, and others didn’t have that opportunity. It is why I’m looking forward to seeing my original plans for The Flying Child C.I.C. come to life. We are on the cusp of being able to provide specialist trauma therapist facilitated peer support programmes for survivors and this will be life-changing, if not life-saving for people. (More information to follow in the next few weeks).

Had I managed to end my life would CSA have been noted as the reason? No. There was no record. There would have been little evidence. Would they have even looked for evidence of it? Probably not. My secret would have gone to the grave with me. I would have been a statistic and no one would have known why.

The Flying Child Project

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One thought on “A Journey of Missed Opportunities”

  1. It was wonderful to read this. You are the best person to raise awareness based on your lived experience. It will reach so many people who need to hear your story. I hope you can schedule in your decompression time…it is vitally important.
    👏👏👏 Thank you for all that you do

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