You cannot run from what is inside you.
Fear grows in our darkness. We cannot fight our darkness or our fears with more darkness. We must try to fight the darkness and fear with light.
I try to remember this as I sit on the floor in the corner of the room, knees pulled up tight to my chest, scribbling in my notebook. My Liaison Officer is sat on the floor opposite me. Today is the day that I begin to tell my story and begin to explore my darkness.
I am afraid of the darkness, the silence. Nothing can save me from my thoughts. Nothing can save me from my memories.
Even as I sit here in the Safe House, with my Liaison Officer opposite me and my Sister in Law in the next room, I still do not feel safe. My abuser may not be in this house but it doesn’t mean I feel safe. I don’t feel safe anywhere. I am never safe from my memories or my nightmares. Now I have to tell my story. A story he told me never to tell.
My Liaison Officer explains how we will begin and checks that I am OK to start. Then she asks her colleague who is upstairs in another room to start recording. The light on the wall changes colour to let us know that the cameras that are in the corner of the room have started taping and we begin.
She doesn’t want to push me so we start slow. Some history; names, where I lived, how old I was. Then she asks if I can tell her about the first time he touched me. I can feel the bile rising in my throat as I start to panic, unsure on how I will get the words out or how much I will be able to say.
I begin; I was 11. My mother and siblings were out. He told me he wanted to give me a present. He asked me to go up to the bathroom. He said I was a good girl.
I stop for a moment. I can feel myself shaking, unsure how to find the words to explain what happened next.
Eventually with a little help and my Liaison Officer letting me write some things down for her to read to the camera, I am able to tell her what happened next.
Then suddenly I can feel tears in my eyes and I start to panic. I start to play with the safety pin I have hidden up my sleeve, my wrists screaming “cut me”.
You don’t need water to feel like you are drowning. You don’t need a pillow to feel like you are suffocating. I can feel the walls closing in around me and I start to panic.
My Liaison Officer can see that I am struggling and she decides to stop the interview. She sits with me and calms me down. She says I have done really well but explains that she doesn’t want to do anymore today. She says she can see I am struggling and she doesn’t want to push me.
Although she reassures me I feel like I should have been able to say more, but I can feel the sadness and pain rising inside me. My chest is getting tighter and I am finding it harder to breathe.
The safe house, the cameras, my Liaison Officer, they make me see how serious this all is. This is a really bad thing he did. The realisation suddenly hits me; my stepfather sexually abused me. He committed a very serious crime against me. He hurt me, badly. The pain is unbearable.
No one will ever understand how much this hurts. I cannot take this pain. I feel like my heart is breaking into a million pieces, but my pain is demanding to be felt.
I can feel tears in my eyes again and begin to panic. I want to cry so much but I am too afraid and embarrassed.
My Liaison Officer can see the tears in my eyes; she tells me that it is OK to cry. She says she will look after me and that I won’t get into trouble like when I was younger, but I am panicking. She takes me to get some air and helps me calm down.
She reassures me that I have done really well for my first interview, especially as it is the first time I have ever told anyone some of the things I told her. She says I should be proud.
I am not sure how I feel except exhausted. I suddenly feel so drained and I struggle to find the energy to move. My head feels fuzzy and I find it hard to focus.
My Liaison Officer takes me home. She tells me that how I feel is normal and that I should try to rest. My eyes hurt and I can barely keep them open as I have a bath and then go to lie down.
I wish I could find a word to explain how awful today was, but no word exists. I wish I could tell you that today wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be or that it was easy, but I would be lying.
Owning our story will be hard but not as difficult as trying to run from it, I have tried to run for years and it doesn’t work. We cannot run from what happened to us.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. We don’t need to see the end of the staircase or end of our journey to take that first step.
All we need is a small amount of insane courage and bravery. All we need is a little faith.
Faith is taking that first step. Faith is being willing to explore the darkness.
Exploring the darkness is the only way to discover the light.
Today I started exploring my darkness.
No matter how far away my light seems, I will reach it eventually.
Thanks for reading.