When I was 12 years old I eventually called 999 from a nearby phone box regarding aggressive behaviour by my dad which began when I was about 3 years old, only to be told off, returned home, and medicated for the whole of my teens. I was never questioned, no statement or discernible action was ever taken by the police, apart from to involve the NHS.
However, in my darkest moments since I was twelve, 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 file, there would be a record which would eventually vindicate my story.
Well, here we are over 40 years later and it has taken until now, on receipt of a direct request by me, for the local authorities to actually admit what had become obvious to me, that they either never made or can’t find any record of my call. This is presumably why I continued to be assaulted and medicalised throughout my life and nothing was ever done.
Although I really have fought not to let the aggression or the subsequent medicalisation of me as a child determine the rest of my life, the truth is that it really has. Since returning back up north, those old fears and archaic medical attitudes began to encroach on many aspects of my life again.
One of the more enlightened decisions made during my twenties in London was to refer me to a cognitive therapist. I successfully used cognitive therapy techniques to help me to overcome my fears, restore my self confidence and remain positive whilst I lived down south, all the while imagining that piece of paper in that dusty file. Somewhere.
Since I moved back up here, I have been mining this technique for all it’s worth, but I don’t think it was ever meant for the enormous issues I have had to deal with, and I often wonder what my cognitive therapist would advise.
I saw the Sanctuary knocker (above) on a school trip to Durham Cathedral when I was about 13 years old, trapped at home on medication, understanding nothing. Although the knocker at Durham was originally intended to offer sanctuary to criminals, I remember wishing that I could knock on something like it and find some kind of sanctuary from things at home. This idea imprinted itself on my consciousness and I still find the symbolism of the object very powerful.
As my father is in his late 80s now, I think it is a bit late for recriminations at this stage, unless there are any further occurrences. My brother has never made himself available to discuss this issue.
I hope this post may be helpful to other people who have had similar experiences.
Stephanie. October 2017.