The statistics are harrowing. In the first six months of this year, 1211 sexual assaults on children were recorded in New Zealand. In reality, there are far more. There are many children like me, who are too scared to tell.
Age is no barrier to abuse. For those children who experience it, it takes a long time to say “This was not my fault.”
Counselling is vital for children but it takes time for children to learn to trust somebody. Sometimes kids get so counselled out, they just don’t want to talk about anything anymore. You have to give kids space to be able to come back and engage when they’re ready. We have to be really sensitive to each child’s needs.
I did not know anything about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until I had an emotional breakdown six years ago. So 36 years after I escaped my situation I was able to begin my healing journey. I have days when I am feeling really, really strong, but there are still days when I’m walking a knife-edge.
When you have been abused, you have a tendency to be either a helicopter parent or a detached parent and I probably was more of a detached parent. I have always loved my children but I was carrying a lot of anger and frustration.
My abuse damaged my relationship with my older children because I did not have that ability to communicate with them as they needed. My husband was the hug machine – he is the one they remember for affection.