“Too Heavy”

By Sophie Olson
Opening a conversation on Twitter about the stigma of CSA

This tweet followed an interaction that left me feeling a bit tired. Despite the extraordinary estimated statistics of adult survivors in the U.K., CSA survivors are an isolated community. It is hard to come together as a group because people don’t want us. I remember years ago, trying to find a free venue for a local charity peer support group, so it could keep going despite funding cuts. I knocked on many doors: Churches, cafes, pubs, community centres and the message was loud and clear.

Our insurance won’t cover you (a church that hosted various community groups)

The elders have said it’s inappropriate (we were a small group of women, drinking tea and chatting, in private).

We don’t think it’s a suitable group for our church (a huge red flag in my opinion)

I’ll never forget the ones who said yes and opened their doors to us. The groups were a lifeline for CSA survivors. It was the only place I could go where I could speak freely and be myself. Unashamed, unsilenced. Me.

Challenging attitudes like ‘too heavy’ are a constant battle and I do it because these are attitudes that shame victim/survivors. They perpetuate stigma. When I heard her say these words, I could sense old feelings of shame lurking in the background but then I remembered our tagline:


The difference between my early days dabbling in activism and now is, when asking people to engage, my ability to state clearly that I am the survivor of child sexual abuse. I am the one writing about it. I am the speaker. I am not a volunteer; this is my organisation. I reel off a few stats and use it as an opportunity to educate, but I shouldn’t have to. I am tired of it and it’s about time we see a change.

‘Too heavy’ is exactly why abusers get away with child sexual abuse on the scale they do. When people aren’t courageous enough to allow space for conversations and support survivors, they are, perhaps inadvertently supporting perpetrators, because abusers rely on the silence. It’s why public education to challenge stigma and public attitudes towards survivors is vital if we are to take a stand against #CSA.

What are your thoughts on her comment? Do you agree poetry and writing by CSA survivors is ‘too heavy’ a subject to bring to a public event? Or do you see this as a form of prejudice and discrimination?

How do we make a change?

You can check out or engage with the Twitter conversation here.

4 thoughts on ““Too Heavy””

  1. To be honest, I feel like it’s an across the board response and that is sad beyond words.

    Recently had a conversation with a man who totally undermined all of my negative experiences and said I ‘must’ have done something to encourage things and I should have spoken out at the time. He made it my fault.

    Thanks for writing this, it’s too heavy a burden to carry alone I will agree with that, the rest… well that’s why it’s so prolific and they get away with it!

  2. Of course it’s not too heavy!

    But there are too many people who do not want to think about CSA, don’t want other people to talk about it, because the subject is repulsive to them, because they are frightened by it, because it has come a bit too close to home and they want to bury it.

    Everytime we shut up and shut down when met in that way, we inadvertantly collude with this position and yes, I agree, we also empower the perpetrators who dont want us to talk, who thrive on our silence.

    But not all of us are able to speak out and fiercely hold onto #SocietysShameNotMine and so your work, Sophie, is so important, not just for us who know what it is to have gone through CSA (I don’t know if I can yet declare I have survived it!) but for all children including those not born yet.

    So, thank you for your dedication and strength, even when beaten down time and again by those who would prefer that we remain hidden and silent. I don’t know how you keep on doing it, but I am truly grateful.

    Sending you love and hope

    Jane x

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