Case study 02 "Heading" Sub Heading

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I suffered from sexual abuse in my own home when I was very young. It had a really significant impact on my life. My dad had employed a young man from our extended family who also came to live with us. This man was in his early twenties and he used to take advantage of me. Whenever he had the opportunity, which was quite often, he would touch me and kiss me. My parents never left us alone in the house, but it would happen while they were in another room. They had no idea it was happening.

It was horrible. I used to cringe when he came anywhere near me. He told me not to tell anyone, that it was only between me and him and that my parents would be very angry if they found out. He said it was a romantic, just like in the films, but I was only eight and I was confused and afraid. I was also worried about my younger sister, always looking out for her and trying to protect her from him as well. It continued for three months, until he left suddenly.

I think if ChildLine had been available to me when I was small I would have called. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone and I was so alone and sad.

I think it was at least partly because I was vulnerable that I was targeted again when I was only nine by a man who groped me in a changing room. I remember being confused about what was normal.

The abuse affected everything in my life. I snapped at my family, became withdrawn and spent a lot of time in my room. My studies suffered. It really altered my relationships with men around me, including my father and my piano teacher, which was very sad. I wouldn’t let my dad hug or kiss me. I had a trusted relationship with my piano teacher which after the abuse became so uncomfortable that it was very difficult to even sit next to him. I was particularly afraid if I was alone with a man in a confined space. I was always scared someone would come up behind me. I was living in constant fear and shame.

I got a bit less afraid as I grew into a teenager. But the impact continued when I started to understand sexuality because I realised what had happened to me was sexual abuse. This had a huge impact on me. I knew what was done to me was very wrong. As a teenager I suffered from clinical depression, and I used to comfort eat a lot. At times I was suicidal. I wrote a will and had the tablets ready, but luckily I didn’t do it. Someone close to me committed suicide and that made me realise it wasn’t worth ending my life because of what I had been through and I re-evaluated the value of living.

When I was 17years old I finally found the courage to tell a high school counsellor. I had started to talk with him about exam stress and plucked up the courage when he had earned my trust. I was so lucky I found him because he was fantastic and really listened to me. He really changed my life for the better and is very special to me. I was referred for counselling and, although it still took a long time to talk about what happened with the counsellor, I gradually came to terms with what happened to me.

I had counselling through my GP, so I had told my parents what happened. Mum didn’t believe me and it wasn’t taken seriously by my dad. We’ve still have never discussed it as a family. Particularly in Asian families like mine issues like these are not discussed openly. It was brushed away, like it was in the past and that was difficult for me. My sister was upset but just didn’t know what to say to me. I still had periods of depression.

In 2005 I started running. It was just after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004 which devasted so many people’s lives, including some of my family’s. It was a wake up call not to take my life for granted. I was still very angry about what had happened to me as a child. I woke up one morning and wanted to run until I lost all the anger associated with the experience. Aside from losing four stone, the real achievement from running was losing a sense of powerlessness that only a child can feel as a victim of abuse.

I ran very little before I signed up to the London marathon. I decided to turn this horrible thing that happened to me into something really positive and run for NSPCC.

Running the marathon on behalf of the NSPCC was one of the most memorable days in my life. It empowered me on so many levels – I thought if I can put my mind to running a marathon, I can put it to doing a lot of other things too. I cried, with my other team members, when we crossed the line. I feel that I can do anything now.

I’ve since completed the London marathon and the BUPA 10k run, raising funds for NSPCC. I’ve also run half-marathons and many other 5 and10k races. I’m a keen team member of teamGO, a group of people who take part in active events to fundraise for the NSPCC. It’s really motivating to be part of such a supportive group.

Without the work of professionals who helped me, I wouldn't be here and this is why the NSPCC is the charity of my choice. I can now let my father hug me and I have a very normal life. I am no longer afraid to be alone in a room with a man, but it took me a lot of work to get to this stage.

I cannot prevent child abuse from happening nor can I rescue children who have suffered through it. But I want to raise awareness of the NSPCC and contribute to fundraising for the NSPCC so that I can reach out to children who are suffering. I hope that by sharing my story one of those phone calls to NSPCC Helpline or ChildLine might be from a little girl who has a story like mine.

Disclaimer

Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity.