The moment you realise

Child sexual exploitation

We all have our own “moment” – That intense human response to the realisation that out child is a victim of unthinkable crimes.

What was yours?

Mine was in response to a gut feeling that lead the question “was it something sexual?”

This question hung heavy in the air for what felt like an eternity, but was only a brief second of hopeful denial, that came crashing down with the answer….” you’ve guessed, haven’t you” …

My daughter was almost 18 by then.  We had already been through so much – A very serious overdose at age 14 – and had spent the past 4 years also trying our best to support her with help from ourselves and externally from CAMHS, for Self-Harm, Anorexia/Bulimia Depression and Anxiety, Panic Attacks, the list goes on…  This one moment was the first piece of a large, drawn out, still incomplete jigsaw of all the “WHYs?”

The first of which was WHY had our beautiful, shy, artistic, clever daughter disappeared into this black hole of wanting only to die?

The feeling of absolute heart-breaking horror froze me to the spot.  She had her back to me, as we huddled in our front door way looking out into the night. We stayed there for a few moments, waiting for each other’s next move…

The early evening of December 29th 2019 – My Moment of Realisation – The opening of Pandora’s Box….

Eventually I said, “I’m so, so sorry… I am here for you” she turned to me, we hugged. I cried. She stayed in her bubble of numb protection.  Silent for now.

I don’t remember what followed after that, it is now blurred with so many other moments of pure shock and a need to “box it away” in my memories deep inside, in order to cope.

What did you do?  How did you react?  Or did you not in the hope it would just disappear?

No-one knows or can guess what they would feel, think, say or do.  We are, as humans, unpredictable in moments of acute stress.   Whatever you did/didn’t say or do, does not represent you as a whole parent.  All it does is show you naturally responded to this stressful and unimaginable moment.  This is no place for any judgement on that, nor should there be!

We, as individuals are products of a mix of our own families and peer groups morals, values, along with those we form for ourselves, based solely on our experiences up until that earth shattering moment.  Nothing could prepare us to know it was coming or how to even begin to feel…

I hope that you are kind to yourself and know that you did the best you could with what you knew…whatever that moment looks like for you.  Not only did you see your child as a victim for the first time, but your whole world also changed forever too.  Everything you thought you had as a family comes undone…and as a parent of a victim, you are now responsible for holding everyone and everything together for them and yourself.

You too are a survivor!  You too need help, comfort, support and compassion.  You too are going to be damaged by what has happened, forever changed.

It has taken me years of fighting to keep my daughter alive and bolstering her self-worth to be willing to keep fighting. It is only through this fight that I came across Pace, now Ivison Trust.

We are now member of a club no one wants to be in, but have no choice.  But, thank goodness we at least have each other. Be gentle with yourself and know you are not alone.