New Horizons Southport Adult Survivors – You are not alone!
From an early age I knew I was different, withdrawn, quiet. Everyone said I was shy. As a teen I lacked self confidence, struggled to communicate with peers, I could never be normal like them and sadly my friends did nothing to convince me otherwise. In fact at every opportunity they took the chance to belittle me, make me feel my opinion of myself was correct. As an adult I learned how to hide my feelings, I became a brilliant actress. I was confident, the life and soul of the party. I was the one who took everything on the chin. I could cope with any problems. I coped with the demands of motherhood, always looked amazing, had a spotless home, clean, well dressed smiling children and they never lacked attention. On the surface I was the image of a perfect wife and mother. I had the perfect life.
Things are not always as they seem though, my image was little more than a mask albeit a good one that in the right frame of mind even I believed in it at times. From the outside I was what most women strive to be but inside I was an empty worthless shell and one day I couldn’t keep the mask in place any longer and I started to fall apart.
What lay beneath my mask? Why had I always felt different? What could be so bad that I was forced to live a lie just to cope with life? Abuse! From a young age I was abused severely. Physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. From the age of 6 I was sexually abused by a close family member and as a teen I suffered at the hands of a controlling boyfriend, a much older man, who totally destroyed me with every form of abuse, much like Bethany Platt in Coronation Street and at 15 I was pregnant with no idea who the father might be. My mask hid my shame, the fear I wasn’t normal and it slipped because I could no longer cope with keeping so many secrets and lies that I had been told I had to keep. I was a little girl again in my head and I couldn’t cope. I needed someone to talk to, confide in, someone who could help me understand why such bad things had happened to me and why I couldn’t stop them.
Who on earth could I turn to? Surely I was the only one who had been through this. I certainly didn’t know of anyone else. I was alone. Who could I talk to about the awful things that had been done to me. Nobody could ever understand how lonely I felt in my mind. How different I felt. I could never risk sharing the guilt I carried cos it had all been my fault. Why? My abusers all told me that it was. I wasn’t sure what I had done that was so wrong I just knew it must have been bad to suffer so much.
Who would believe what I had to say? I was drowning in misery. Having suffered OCD most of my life I found my symptoms becoming unbearable to live with. I was traveling at 100mph towards a wall with no brakes.
I was referred for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and it was here that I was introduced to New Horizons. I was handed a leaflet containing a phone number. I called it and I was invited to attend the next meeting. That’s the point my life turned a corner! From the moment I walked in to the meeting I knew I was among people who knew! They got it, and they listened and understood. It was my salvation. Finally I could accept I wasn’t the only one these things had happened to. I wasn’t abnormal, I’d been a victim of terrible crimes and for the first time in my life I knew I wasn’t to blame. I was a child, I had no control and I had nothing to feel guilty about.
New Horizons has given me the support I needed to learn how to heal. No subject is taboo, no experience too big or too small and no-one is there to judge. It’s all been heard before and we won’t be shocked. You need never worry that people don’t understand or believe. Trust me, every member has been there. Members are both male and female and everyone goes at their own speed. There are no pressures to share your story, when you want to we are there to listen. You may feel you never want to share and that’s fine too, come and just listen to others share their experiences and you will be amazed how much better you will feel. Knowing that you are not on your own any more is incredible and very liberating and we are there for as long as we are needed. Don’t feel worried about joining us, that first step is always the hardest and you will be glad you took it when you do.
We are a peer to peer group of men and women, all survivors of sexual abuse and all there for each other when things seem bleak. We laugh, we cry, we share and together we help each other come to terms with what’s happened and learn to heal. Please, don’t suffer alone because with New Horizons you are not alone. We get it and we understand like no-one else possibly could.