Triumph Over Tragedy
I was born on the twenty third of June 1960 in Handsworth, Birmingham. I was one of four 'Accidents' Born to a dysfunctional mother that hated children. My childhood was a daily nightmare. In which physical, emotional and sexual abuse took it's toll on my psyche. It was all that I knew, all that I was. It was my normality.
At the age of sixteen I escaped from the sex traffickers who had abused and exploited me within the abyss of human depravity. And although I had escaped physically, my mind was still incarcerated inside the darkness of utter desolation. Riddled with guilt, shame and self blame, I spiralled into drug dependency, anxiety, depression and attempted suicides.
I solely believed that I was mentally ill. I did not even recognise my own abuse. At the age of eighteen, I sought medical help, I wanted something to deaden my thoughts and feelings. One doctor shut me up with valium. Another molested me. The following ten years, I continued on a path of self hatred, self abuse and a learned suppression of my inner trauma, which sometimes manifested into violent outbursts, that were usually self-inflicting.
At twenty eight, I gave birth to a baby girl. And she, gave life to me. My daughter would be the catalyst for the recognition of my past abuse and the understanding of true motherhood. That of unconditional love, devotion, nurture and absolute protection. This motherhood was not learned, it was innate. To me, it was as natural and as involuntary as breathing itself.
So, here began the second chapter of my life, fraught with uncertainty, fear, isolation and unbelievable stress, induced by the realisation and acknowledgement of my past traumas. For here I was, in the process of trying to recover, amidst the vast ripples of secondary victimisation. I was being re-victimised, whilst trying to heal from the initial abuses. I had to constantly wear a 'Mask of normality' for self protection and social acceptance. And because I had always felt like an 'Out cast' in a climate of misunderstandings, ignorance and the taboo that surrounds sexual abuse. If I spoke out about the crimes that were committed against me or others. I would be met with a wall of silence, made to feel uncomfortable, strange, defective or dysfunctional. Another reason I wore this mask was to thwart any unwanted questioning or probing by authorities, especially police or health agencies. Because I became aware that there could be consequences and reverberations that could jeopardize myself and my children. An abused person should never have to hide their pain, anxiety and distress in the fear of being re-victimised. I was trying to climb out of the deepest and darkest of holes. Whilst people all around me, threw dirt over me. To cover me...To silence me.
In the years 2000-2004, I felt compelled to paint forty two images surrounding the story of my abuse. I painted them for myself only. And in order to help process my pain and trauma, into something tangible. I needed to transfer the torment and horror that possessed my mind onto physical canvases. So that I could understand, absorb and digest it from a different perspective and a more rational and detached level.I then hid these paintings for over a decade, because of the stigmatisation, isolation, abandonment and condemnation that surrounds sexual abuse.
Then in 2011, I decided that being just a survivor was not enough for me. I needed an antidote to this 'psychological poison' that was slowly killing me. Little did I realise that I had long ago, produced my own antidote. It was a dusty art case that contained my personal paintings. I came to understand that this poison that was killing me, was called 'Silence' And that silence can slowly eat away and destroy a person completely. And, as I posted my personal paintings online for all to see. I began to receive endless messages from other survivors, who said that 'I was a voice' for them, in their inability to express their own trauma and pain. They said that I inspired them. The truth is, that they inspired me. I was no longer silent. Indeed I was going to shout out about my abuse and the abuse of others. For 'Silence empowers the perpetrators and impairs the victims'
And so, these most fortunate days, when I am sat inside a large room of empty seats. Waiting for another group of social workers to arrive in order to listen and participate in one of my seminars about child sexual abuse and trafficking. I know that I have completely turned my life around. I have turned all of my bad into good. And that good is to hopefully prevent other victims from suffering at the hands of others. Or to help survivors climb out - Of that most deepest and darkest of holes.