A Sense of Solidarity

A Sense of Solidarity was one of my contributions to Epione’s SeeMeHearMe blog a few months ago. Epione is Scotland’s largest trauma training provider. Check out the fantastic work they do here.

I have always had a thing about groups. I don’t like them, I don’t trust them. I have been wary of groups, ever since the time an eight year old girl with stocky legs and suspicious eyes accused me of laying eggs during a playground game of 4040. This was the worst crime imaginable in Year 4 in 1985. Hand on hip, she stood back to watch as 30 indignant little girls and boys formed a menacing circle and she stared unblinkingly at me as I stood in the middle wondering how the world had suddenly turned so dark. 30 shrill voices began their chant: “ Lay-ing EGGS!, lay-ing EGGS!”

It was untrue and unjust but I did nothing; I didn’t defend myself, didn’t shout, didn’t cry or tell a teacher, I just braced myself and waited for it to end.

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I first contacted a charity (RASASC) for advice in 2015. I was put in touch with an ISVA (independent sexual violence advisor), as I wanted to report the abuse but I was too frightened to walk into a police station without a comprehensive understanding of the process.

Not many people knew about the abuse and those who did only knew that I’d ‘been abused’ – not the details; keeping this secret was the only control I had over this terrible thing that had happened to me. I feared full disclosure because I feared handing control over to someone else. I feared the consequences of speaking out. I feared the abuser. Perhaps most of all I feared judgement. The shame was debilitating. This ISVA and I sat together for a couple of hours and she asked me questions about what had happened. It was painful to be asked this; how do you speak the words when you have spent half a lifetime pushing away any thoughts of abuse?

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Precious Connections

Recently I was pleased to have had the opportunity to take part in a survivor/journalist interaction. We had a behind-the-scenes conversation about child sexual abuse, discussed the way it’s currently covered in the media, suggestions for how this could be improved and how we personally are contributing towards solutions in our own work and activism.

As an ice-breaker exercise we were asked to share something meaningful and the item I shared made me reflect upon the connections survivors make with one another, how precious these connections are, how we just understand each other.

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