Surviving

Personal News. October 2017

When I was about 12 years old I eventually called 999 from a nearby phone box regarding aggressive behaviour by my dad, only to be told off, returned home, and medicated for the rest of my teens. I was never questioned, no statement or discernible action was ever taken by the police, apart from involving the NHS.

However, in my darkest moments since then, I have consoled myself with the thought that somebody, somewhere out there would now know what was happening, that they would be doing whatever it is that these people are supposed to do, and that in some dusty pre-digital file, there would be a record which would eventually vindicate my story.

It has taken until now, on receipt of a direct request by me, for the local authorities to finally admit what had become obvious to me, that they either never made, got rid of or lost any record of my call, which is presumably why I endured further assaults and continued to be pathologized throughout my adult life.

Although I really have fought not to let the aggression or the subsequent pathologization of me determine the rest of my life, the truth is that it really has. Since returning back to Newcastle, those old fears began to affect many aspects of my life again.

One of the more enlightened decisions made during my twenties was to refer me to a cognitive therapist. Since then I have successfully used cognitive therapy techniques to help me to overcome my fears, restore my self confidence and remain positive, all the while imagining that piece of paper in that dusty file.

Unfortunately I don’t think this technique was ever meant for some of the enormous issues I have had to deal with over time, such as long term gaslighting by my father and my brother. I often wonder what my cognitive therapist would advise.

Sanctuary
Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

I saw this Sanctuary knocker on a school trip to Durham Cathedral when I was about 14, trapped at home, on medication, understanding nothing. Although it was apparently intended to offer sanctuary to criminals, I remember wishing that I could find some kind of sanctuary from things at home. This idea imprinted itself on my consciousness and I still find it a powerful symbol.

I hope this post may be helpful to other people who have had similar experiences.