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, which had been escalating to the point where he had punched me in the face. When the police arrived, I was told off, returned home, sent to my room 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. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to tell the police about a couple of school friends who were being abused either.

In my darkest moments since then, I have consoled myself with the thought that somebody, somewhere out there would now know what was happening to me, 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 my father’s aggression or my subsequent pathologization 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 techniques from a type of cognitive therapy 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 decision making while my mother was terminally ill and 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.