Sexual abuse is much harder to write about as with any abuse it opens up scars and wounds that are better off normally left alone. But ‘warts and all’ here is my story.
I was one of the youngest in my year’s intake and therefore I left school at just 15. I applied for a job as an Audiologist at a Hearing Aid Centre. It was also a video shop next door run my the same man. My duties were to be between the two shops. The owner (we will call him Mr E for short, E for evil) was the owner and he had 3 shops in the Midlands. At first he was lovely, he told me he would teach me Audiology and Acupuncture. Everyone was so pleased for me as I had left school, got a job, which also had career prospects, and the wages were £36 pounds per week, which at the time for a first job was amazing to me. He was really nice and gave me study books to learn from and included me in all appointments, I had a white coat to wear too like a doctors so I felt special, medical even. I soon got to know the others who worked at the other branches via the video side of the business and I was both shocked and fearful as he seemed to sack people quite easily and normally just before they came up to their first years service as after that they had employment rights, or so the rumours went.
Sex abusers prime their victims; they start off slow and subtle with maybe just an arm around you, telling you what a good job you have done. The odd hug of appreciation that lingers too long so you feel uncomfortable but there is nothing really that you can complain about. They then put you in a position of power, so that you feel important. They make you feel special, buy you gifts, take you on trips and although you know it’s not right you just keep telling yourself that they are just being nice and that you are being silly with your concerns.
It was a long time ago and I can’t remember when or how it turned sexual. I know that it was awful; I was ashamed and felt dirty again. But what could I do? With friends and family proud of me, who could I tell? As the person being abused because no one knows about it you also pretend it’s not happening. You try every trick you know to not be alone with the person. Anything to avoid it happening again, from pretending to be ill to lying about appointments due into the shop. But the abuser becomes a master of their art and the manipulation and threats make you fearful, so you just submit as no one knows. So I put up with it until I could find a way out that everyone would believe. I used to count the takings from the 3 shops every week and I was in charge of the banking once I had sorted out the staff wage packets, I was only 16! I would steal from him every week, not because I wanted the money but because I wanted to hurt him as much as he hurt me. Months and months of this went by until I finally decided to leave and become a hairdressers receptionist. I can’t remember the excuse I made to my family and friends but I had to get away from this evil man. He had a girlfriend called J and she had a niece and nephew. He was divorced and I often had to meet her and pretend that everything was okay. I wondered if she knew, I wondered if he was doing this with the others that worked for him as so many in the months that I was there were either sacked or left. Were they sacked because they wouldn’t let him abuse them? I often wondered. And the ones that left, did they go because they had more courage or sense than I did?
Years passed and I told no one. Then I met my best mate Nicky who I told for the first time when I was 18. I had hidden the abuse, the dirty feelings, the disgust within myself for years. She was shocked but it was good to talk about it. I also told my boyfriend at the time who wanted to just go and kill him. By 18 my own sexuality was at rock bottom, no confidence and I was scared to do anything, my boyfriend used to call me frigid and I was.
After first meeting Steve and him being so devoted to us from the start I remember telling him that I’m not the person that he thought I was, that he didn’t know the real me. Again if you have read yesterday’s post you will know how I built a wall of confidence around me. People saw a confident, sometimes flirtatious, self opinionated, energetic woman who was self assured. They didn’t see the real me. The me I hated for the early years of not being strong enough, the dirty, disgusting me who I viewed as no better than a prostitute as I had stolen money in revenge for sex.
As time went by and our relationship grew the more I opened up to Steve and I told him about the abuse. He said that I should report it. I thought that he was silly as it was from when I was 15. In the days that followed that conversation played on my mind, should I report it or would they think I was either lying or silly to even say anything after all these years. I remembered Steve’s words of encouragement when reading in the local paper about a swimming instructor who had been abusing his pupils. So with Steve’s support and whilst the kids were at school I phoned the police. I told them my story; they said that the department was busy and that someone would call me back within a few weeks. I was happy with that and continued with my day. Within half an hour the head of the CID was on the phone to me. Four other peoples’ complaints against him were being investigated at that time, they said that his abuse spanned over 40 years of children and young adults. In his earlier years he ran a Judo club where he had access to young children. He also abused his niece and nephew, which J must have known about as she gave him access to them.
A policewoman came round that day to talk to me and they arranged for me to give video evidence at the police station. I went of course and gave my evidence. I drew a map of the shop, with details of his underground safe were he kept rude photos. I was asked if I ever said no to him. This was a hard question to answer honestly as in my head every time it happened I was screaming, ‘no no no no no.’ but did I ever say it? No I don’t think I did, not out loud and I couldn’t bear false witness so I just told the truth. After the interview I was told that sexually I was still classed as a minor until I was 18 years old. More importantly the policewoman who I never knew the name of said something to me so powerful that it changed my life. She said “YOU WERE NOT WRONG, YOU WERE WRONGED” I have never forgotten these words and I started to finally forgive myself.
Mr E was arrested on my evidence and he faked a heart attack, he got a top specialist to deem him not fit for trail and he has never faced justice for all the lives he ruined. Now where’s the justice in that? One of his shops still continues to trade and he is still free to do whatever he wishes. The bastard.
So there you have it ‘warts and all’ If you have suffered any form of abuse you will understand and connect with the honesty in this post. I’m sorry if anything I have shared with you has made you sad but like illness, abuse either physical or sexual, you are not alone and you can forgive yourself.
We all have choices in terms of how we deal with life experiences, don’t ever let yourself be a victim, take control and learn to love yourself for who you are.
My final comment is to thank Steve for his support, love and understanding through this. He has allowed me to be me, he encouraged me to take control back and be the person I always wanted to be and not live feeling ashamed or disgusted with myself, thank you my Mr Wonderful xx