Episode 13 The Flying Child
Survivors of child sexual abuse talk about breaking the silence and recovering from the shame and stigma of csa through therapy and speaking out.
Janet met Sophie through the charity, Angles, when Sophie wanted to meet other people with lived experience of child sexual abuse for a project she was launching called, “The Flying Child Project”.
Sophie outlines her project, which will involve providing safeguarding training led by survivors.
Sophie herself didn’t disclose her abuse until she was 30. She describes how she felt crippled by the shame and the silence around csa and the hidden nature of it. This was compounded because her abuser was a family member.
Sophie talks about how became an expert at pushing away the difficult thoughts and feelings, visualising locking them behind a big, black door.
Eventually, Sophie could no longer cope with sustaining the pressure and at 30, she, “broke”, tried to take her own life and went into a psychiatric hospital for four months. She did not have access to any specialist support at the time and was “treated” under the medical model system, being prescribed various medication and being given various labels, none of which fitted.
Some years later, an acquaintance of Sophie’s from her son’s school took her own life. It turned out that the woman was a witness in a trial about csa. Sophie realised that, if she did not talk about her trauma, she would do the same.
Sophie walked into a specialist rape survivor centre and spoke to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, or ISVA. The ISVA referred Sophie to a group for survivors, this group was life-changing for Sophie, as she finally felt that she could be herself. Eventually, she was able to tell her own story.
Sophie was able to access one-one therapy. The first counsellor she saw did not fit for her. Sophie says it is important for survivors to find a therapist or group who works for them and not to give up.
Sophie was allocated a different therapist, who Sophie felt comfortable with. Sophie found it extremely difficult to speak the words that were stuck. After some time, the therapist suggested writing in the third person, in the form of a fairy story. This method was highly effective for Sophie and she began to feel herself healing.
As Sophie says, “there are people who can untangle the trauma and find ways for us to speak”.
You are not alone. There are lots and lots of people like us.
You may be interested in Episode 5, where Beth from Safeline talks about, “The role of an ISVA“.
I write about the difficulty of speaking the words that get stuck in our heads in my blog, “I have no words“.
You can find information about support here
There is also information for male survivors and for children and young people
You can read Sophie’s Comment about this site here
The journey to recovery from child sexual abuse or any other form of abuse or trauma, is long and painful. However you choose to find support and help on that journey, it is worth it. There is hope for recovery.
Thank you for listening.