Fall Forward (my journey in a nutshell)

By Sophie Olson

This is me; this is my story. But of course, it’s not just mine. This story has happened to and continues to happen to many people. The details may differ but the impact is devastating.

At best, we might experience feelings of shame, confusion or lack of self-worth. At worst, we might feel our lives are blighted by unbearable emotional distress or physical illness. A lack of support for Child Sexual Abuse survivors might lead some to develop coping mechanisms such as the ones described in this blog.

If you relate to anything here, I hope you are reassured to know that you’re certainly not alone. Navigating your way through life as a CSA survivor can feel overwhelming. At times, it might feel insurmountable, but it’s not. There is always hope. There is always a way through.

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Surviving in Stormy Seas

By Sophie Olson
A Poem by Sophie Olson that reads:

do you drink every day?
and she recalled
how heavy the weight 
of her coat
a stumbling trudge under street lamps at dusk
blank faces of commuters
as she stood on the edge
and waited
hopeless in her head
debating
the pull of motherhood
considering
milk-mouthed babies
starfishes in warm beds

There were so many days like this. Too many days. It feels like a lifetime of surviving. Often I wonder why I did survive. Sometimes I feel so very old.

This poem reflects a point in my life where I had reached out for help more times than I can remember. I had tried to be stronger, happier – more resilient. I had tried to focus on, and be grateful for the good things – there were many good things – but I was drowning and help wasn’t forthcoming.

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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
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New Shoots

Trigger Warning: This post contains references to suicide that could be distressing.

For some, life reaches a point where it derails you completely. It is the moment where you feel that death is preferable. Some refer to this as ‘Rock Bottom’ and when I reached mine, it may not have felt like it at the time, but it was the day that I began again. I was 30, and as the first third of my life came to an end, so did the walls I’d built around myself. My persona, my mask, and my pretence began to rot and decay, along with my twenties and I was scared. I feared there was nothing underneath, that I’d just disintegrate and dissolve to nothing.

I didn’t.

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Left vs Right

Trigger warning (CSA, suicide)

I wrote this shortly before being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I think back and wonder if I knew why I was so unwell. Did I equate this depressive state with child sexual abuse? The answer is yes, but I don’t allude to it here. When I wrote this, The Black Door was locked and bolted, but it was a deliberate choice to keep it that way. These memories were always clear to me but I didn’t allow myself to let them out. At this stage, they were beginning to find a way through the gaps, but I wasn’t ready to write about that. I was silent about the abuse, even inside my own head.

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Trained Thoughts…

Some of the most desperate in society have suffered more than you can possibly imagine.
I live near an organisation that provides help for the homeless, many of whom have challenging mental health needs. A lot, if not all of these people will have suffered trauma
in the past and now face daily judgement.

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