Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.
Here I am again; sat on the floor of the safe house, my Liaison Officer once again sat on the floor opposite me. I curl my legs up to my chest and make sure I have my notebook and my teddies.
Before she starts recording we chat to help me decide what incident to talk about today. “How about we try the flashback?” She asks.
My tummy turns. I have tried to talk about the flashback before and it did not go well. Even worse, we haven’t even started yet and I already feel like I want to cry. The more this process goes on the more emotional I am becoming, but I have to try. I need to talk about it sooner rather than later.
We start recording and I begin to tell her about the flashback and what happened when he took me to his mother’s house. I feel scared as she asks me for more detail, knowing that I have to say the words.
I don’t like to say the words, they make it real. Saying “he hurt me” is easy. Saying “he raped me” is hard. Saying “he touched my breasts” or “he put his penis in me” is terrifying. However using all my strength and taking a deep breath, I try. “He put his penis in me”
I can’t say all the words I need to though. She has to say some for me. However I manage to make it to the end of the flashback giving her the detail she needs. I feel sad and fragile and I ask if we can take a break but I explain that I want to keep talking afterwards.
When we return I start to tell her about another incident, forgetting that part way through this memory are the details that I am not sure I can talk about yet. The details I am embarrassed about. The details I am ashamed of.
I turn the page in my notebook and what I have written there suddenly hits me and I freeze. All I can utter is “oh no” as I wish for the ground to swallow me up.
My Liaison Officer sees my reaction and asks if I am OK. I explain that the next bit of this memory is something that I have never been ready to tell anybody because I am embarrassed and ashamed. She says we can stop for today if I want to. No. I have to try. “Take your time” she says.
I sit quietly thinking to myself. I remember the little girl I was, filled with fear, anxiety and a knot in my tummy that never went away. I need to spare at least one child the pain I went through. I need to save them from a childhood like mine. I need to be brave, I have to do this.
I take a deep breath as I explain to my Liaison Officer that what I am going to tell her makes me disgusting. I tell her she will think I am disgusting, that other people will think I am disgusting. She tries to reassure me, saying that no one will think that way.
I sigh as I begin to explain what he did. I feel like I am going to cry as I utter the next few words “My body liked it”
I feel the bile rising in my throat and I shudder, disgusted with myself. I hang my head and look at the floor, shame rising within me as I tell her that I wasn’t able to control my body. “You see, it makes what he did my fault” I tell her. “I deserved it”. “No” she says as she explains that what happened is natural and that I wouldn’t have been able to stop it.
I can feel the anger rising inside my chest and I haven’t noticed just how hard I am scribbling in my notebook. The same place; over and over and over. Tearing the paper as I press harder.
I should have been able to control it! My body betrayed me!!
Anger! Shame! Guilt! I feel embarrassed and sick and want to cry; my body betrayed me!!
Sat here I am so angry at myself. Why couldn’t I control the way my body reacted?! I am ashamed. I am upset at how much my body betrayed my mind.
I close my book, unable to look at the words on that page any longer. I curl myself in a ball and huddle in the corner.
As I pull my jumper down over my hands, I unclip the safety pin that I have hidden in my sleeve and start to press it into my hand, trying to cut myself. I must punish myself and take this anger and shame away.
Hoping that the pin is small enough not to be noticed, I push harder trying to draw blood. My Liaison Officer moves closer to me, she has seen what I am doing. She doesn’t get angry but reaches out to take my hand and stop me, telling me not to hurt myself. She takes my hand and comforts me, reiterating that it is not my fault.
She hugs me and keeps telling me it is not my fault. “My body betrayed me” I whisper, as I give in to her hug.
The mind remembers, stuffed until an event, a sound, a sight, a touch, a word or a person awakens it.
My mind remembers; it remembers that my body betrayed me. It remembers the hatred I have for my body every time I look in a mirror.
Yet it also remembers that every vein and muscle was screaming for him to stop. Every bone in my body was screaming for him to stop. My body was enslaved and that, that was not my fault. It did what it needed to do to survive.
So long as we are in conflict with our body, we cannot find peace of mind.
Yes, my body did betray me, but now I know that my body was stronger than I ever realised; surviving even when I was at my weakest.
So now I say to my body “I want to be your friend” as I realise just how hard my body worked to survive.
My body betrayed me….but it is stronger than I ever knew.
Thanks for reading.