• Robert Stevens

Exposing the Secrets of Abuse

Updated: Jan 20, 2018

Everyone will have heard about child abuse but how many know about the affects on it's victims?

The UK is fourth in a list of the top 5 countries with the highest rates of child sex abuse. In this we are even ahead of the USA. Research by IBTimes showed that in 2012/13 there were 1/4 million victims and 1 in 200 adults are pedophiles. The NSPCC reported in 2014 that 1 in 20 children (4.8%) have experienced sexual abuse and over 90% of those by someone they knew. The total number of sex crimes against children under 16 reported in 2012/13 was 18,915. I hope that you agree that this is not just grim reading but a heinous blot of evil on almost 19,000 lives.

What disturbs me is these were the reported crimes. Not all crimes are reported so these figures could be much higher. The Herald news paper reported in 2013 that a pedophile ring linked to Britons worst abuser Robert Smith arrested in 2005 is still at large.

Shattered Lives

We can be shocked, upset or horrified by figures like this. It is good that we have investigations like the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and other charities who are taking steps to expose the realities of what has happened in secret. But what about the future of these victims? A rough estimation that is often quoted is 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been abused. We work alongside these broken people; we live with them and sit next to them in church. They live, coping, sometimes not, with a silent pain often a buried and sealed down brokenness. Sometimes their closest loved ones don’t know. Who has a heart for the restoration of these shattered lives?

The Effects of Child Abuse (P.T.S.D.)

Here are some of the effects often refered to as P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) according to Robert Stevens who is a survivor. What many might find surprising is that survivors may not be aware that these symptoms are linked to an experience in their childhood. How then can others appreciate what it is like?

“What many might find surprising is that survivors may not be aware that these symptoms are linked to an experience in their childhood.”

"You will realise I’m sure, that it is not the picture that every survivor would present if they were listened to. But there will be some common characteristics. What it is really like for a survivor without the airbrushing?

It is a reoccurring deep-seated fear of being controlled again and a fight never to allow that to happen. When it is not fear of being controlled, it is an anxiety of being abandoned. When it is not the anxiety of being abandoned it is the hopelessness of not seeing any way out. When it is not the hopelessness it can be the anger at the injustice of it all: ‘How could a trusted adult misuse me?’ When it is not the anger, it is the feeling of being the odd one out, different from other ‘normal’ people. Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, self-loathing and more. These emotions throw themselves up unexpectedly like plastic rubbish on the shore of daily life for you to collect up and deal with so that the beach is kept clear. At times, it is overwhelming.

It is a longing to be with people and talk incessantly to forget, but then to withdraw and be alone because you cannot face people. You want to be close to the people you love but are tripped up by the feelings of intense need or the fear of failure.

It is a struggle with the distrust of people and often those who are an authority figure or who are loved ones: ‘I know I should trust this person but what if they let me down?’ ‘Will I be able to handle the re-occurrence of destructive emotions?’

Then there are the sleepless nights, the gaps in memory, the abject loneliness that is often self-created because you are a demanding person to be with, the interruption of intimacy with your spouse, upset stomachs, through to despair and yes, suicidal thoughts: ‘Wouldn’t it be best for everyone if I just end it?’

There are other ways to explain it that some survivors would use:

It is like living with an enemy who perpetually abuses these emotions and who needs to be fought off otherwise he takes the ground of your security, well-being and happiness.

It is like being down in the dumps on the inside but positive on the outside. A regular and at times a constant depression that seems unreasonable because sometimes there is no reason to be depressed.

It is an uphill struggle, similar to mourning the death of a loved one. Tears can be just under the surface. Conversely, such a tight grip can be holding emotions that they die. The emotional pain can leave you physically weak and exhausted. The emotional deadness leaves you detached and empty against degrees of emotions (from mild up to a tsunami intensity) and the need to freeze them out with denial or pacify them with addictions.

This is an ugly picture, isn’t it? But this is something of the never-usually-spoken-of that is behind the scenes in some people’s life." Robert Stevens, Breaking the Silence - One Man’s Journey from Child-Abuse to Whole Life Transformation, (Day One, 2018)

Other Content taken from Couragoues ExChange Programme - Workbook 2

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