Honest Conversations

By Sophie Olson

Stigma.

Shame.

Silence.

Three words that epitomise a problem survivor activists face as individuals trying to break down barriers, and make a positive change to the lives of both child victims and adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.

It’s easy for me to stand in front of strangers and say the relevant words, but when it’s to someone I know, it takes a different sort of strength. I know what it risks. I’m tired of the ignorant reactions and know the likelihood of receiving one is high.

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Lived Experience

It is a commonly expressed concern that survivors are too vulnerable to do this work and might be retraumatised in the process. I have never felt this, on the contrary I feel empowered when I speak and it is fulfilling to be left with the sense of having made a tangible difference to the way professionals might perceive, interact with and respond to child and adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

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Storytelling

One year ago today The Last Taboo, a Falling Tree production documenting my experiences as a silent child sexual abuse survivor through the mental health system, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The documentary has been broadcast twice and the first time was late in the evening. As the day progressed I began to get cold feet. I remember thinking what on earth have I done? There were things my own family didn’t know about the abuse and I’d sent an email explaining this and suggesting that they didn’t listen to it live, late at night whilst on their own.

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