“If you had been physically disabled by a past trauma and chose to run a marathon—people would call you brave. But we don’t do that with emotional wounds. They are invisible and the parents who rise to the occasion—and parent with love and purpose—who give what they never got—they are unsung heroes.”
This is so true. Navigating parenthood as a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) can be an isolating experience and this starts at the very beginning. Nobody speaks about it. There is limited or no opportunity to bring conversations into antenatal appointments. There is no mention of trauma in parenting groups. We deal with the often highly triggering process of pregnancy and birth on our own, we might struggle with breastfeeding, to bond, or even have fears around gender – but we crack on because we have to.
The Last Taboo: Produced by Redzi Bernard and Phoebe McIndoe. A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
Hurt People Hurt People goes round in our heads and we can’t risk our struggles being misunderstood as poor parenting. We want to be good parents. To break patterns, not be accused of causing further hurt. So we stay silent.
Here’s to all the CSA survivors doing their best to parent without the support they deserve. The ones doing their best to work it all out… to heal, to stop trauma passing to the next generation.
The Flying Child ‘leads conversations about Child Sexual Abuse through survivor-led training, campaigning and support.’
The most effective way for us to lead conversation is through Twitter. There is good engagement, and because our work is quite varied, followers are from all walks of life. As well as the amazing survivors, there are people from different professions including teachers, social workers, medical practitioners, counsellors, priests, journalists, academics, police and creatives. At times we find it almost impossible to keep up with the conversations.
When posting on social media I used to fear I was speaking within my own echo chamber but things have changed and I don’t think I’m speaking to the converted anymore.
Last week I was asked to be a guest speaker alongside Viv Gordon at the #CSAQT Twitter Space. It was a space beautifully held by Five (@sur5vors) and Lucy (@smile4wales), and despite my nerves, I really enjoyed it! (It also helped doing it with Viv as we have worked together quite a lot and I feel quite comfortable with her).
If you missed the Space or you’re interested in Survivor Activism, you can read some of my answers below – including my answers to questions we didn’t have time for. Thanks Five and Lucy for inviting me and for helping me overcome my fear of Twitter Spaces!
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.