Life Lasting

When I was 14, the abuse stopped. I broke contact with the abuser. I said no to him for the first time and saw a side to him I’d never seen before.

I witnessed apoplectic rage, vicious threats and I knew I would never feel safe.

I also knew I couldn’t ask for help because no one knew about the child sexual abuse, or the extent of the emotional abuse. How could I express my fear without breaking my silence? How could I break my silence when I felt so unsafe?

I lived in a permanent state of hypervigilance and became physically ill. I missed school, my grades dropped and the consequences of trauma were noticed by others – except they didn’t know what they were seeing.

Then came the blame:

“Try harder”

“Do better”

“If you just apply yourself”

“Don’t let things get on top of you”

“You’re stronger than that”

Life began to feel hopeless. I felt different to my peers. I felt different to the rest of my family who had no idea of the extent of abuse I’d lived with under their roof.

I don’t remember anyone sitting me down and asking me what was going on. I don’t remember kindness, concern or empathy from my teachers. I remember distance, a feeling of not being good enough, of hopelessness, and a sense that life was never going to go my way.

I made my first suicide attempt in this year of my life. I was unsuccessful and not one person knew that I’d tried to take my own life. This desire to check out became something else to hide from others.

Child Sexual Abuse does not end when the abuse ends. It doesn’t remain neatly in the past. It has a direct and devastating impact on our present and future. It is life lasting and life changing.

We spend much time and money firefighting the effects and not enough on tackling the root cause. Why was my abuse unnoticed for so many years? Why did my teachers not recognise the signs, or had little idea of what to do when they did?

Why was I not fully informed about CSA as a child? Why is the focus only on the stranger narrative, online abuse, CSE and not on abuse within families? Every perpetrator who abuses online or within an institution is most likely a family member to someone. They are a direct risk to children within their own networks and yet the stranger narrative is still more comfortable to discuss.

Why are we still not speaking about intrafamilial CSA?

The Flying Child – A Cautionary Fairytale for Adults coming in 2024. Published by ZunTold. Copyright Sophie Olson 2023

Sophie Olson is a CSA Survivor Activist, trainer and speaker. For enquiries, please contact

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