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Shout Out

I was sexually abused by my own father throughout my childhood until I was 13. He did stuff to me and groomed me to do more and more sexual things to him. As I got older he told me that ‘we’ would be in trouble if anyone found out, that me and my brothers and sisters would be taken into care, that he would go to prison and that no one else would ever love me. I believed him. So at the same time as making out it was ‘special’ he also told me it was bad and I completely believed that God doesn’t love bad people, he sends them to hell as punishment. Because that is what my parents told us. So I lived in fear that I would go to hell for the things he made me do. I believe my mother knew, she would send me to him when he asked for me. She hated me and made me feel even worse about myself. When I was 13 he told me that I was nearly a woman so he would do something ‘special’ to me. He wanted to be ‘the first&#0 39; before anyone else got to me. He called me to his bedroom one Sunday morning when the rest of the family were downstairs and he made me lie down on the bed and removed my underwear. I quickly worked out what he wanted to do when he lay on top of me and and told me to open my legs. I was scared and didn’t want to so he forced my legs open and tried to kiss me on the mouth to stop me telling him to stop. He tried to put himself inside me but I struggled so he couldn’t get it fully in properly. But it hurt and I was terrified so I said I would scream if he didn’t stop. He still tried to rape me and it hurt so much I tried to scream but he covered my mouth with his hand and got angry. I don’t know how but he let me go, maybe because he was scared he would get caught. Just because he couldn’t get his penis fully in it doesn’t mean he didn’t rape me. My father was a scary man who was physically and emotionally abusive to the whole family, especially to my mother in front of us. I was terrified of him. I managed to survive the following three years living through fear and abuse until I was sixteen and I ran away from home. Less than a year later when I was 17 I was picked up by a man in his 20’s at a benefits office. I must have been an obvious target and was flattered that someone said I was beautiful because I felt I was ugly and worthless. He took me to a bar and got me drunk so I went willingly to what I thought was another pub but it was where he lived. I had sex with him which I only vaguely remembered because I had been so drunk. I agreed to meet him the next day and he took me to the pub again. I went to the toilet to have a pee and was just coming out of the bathroom when he pushed me back in and forced me to lie on the floor making out he was playing around. I tried to get back up but he flipped me onto my front, pulled my underwear down and brutally anally raped me while all the time I begged him not to. His house mate opened the door and I remember feeling so relieved that help had come. But he just looked scared when Steven Gibson, the rapist, told him to fuck off. I couldn’t believe it when turned away and closed the door. I remember how it felt to have my face pressed into the carpet. The shame I had felt that someone had seen what was happening. The feelings of helplessness and the feeling that it was all my fault because I had been so stupid and had gone there of my own free will. After he finished he acted like nothing had happened. I pulled on my underwear but couldn’t speak. He tried to get me to go for a drink with him but I said I had to go making up some kind of excuse I don’t remember. I felt such overwhelming shame and couldn’t bear the thought of anyone looking at me. I was so convinced that they would know what had happened and would judge me for it. I didn’t go to the police. I knew they wouldn’t believe me and I just w anted to hide away form the world. I completely believed there was something wrong with me. That I was bad. Fortunately the next day a friend called me and picked me up. I was scared that the rapist would come to get me and do it again so I hid with some kind people for a few weeks. I remember feeling numb and emotionless for a long time and then packed it away as best as I could with the rest of the trauma I had experienced. I tried to forget but I I made a lot of bad choices and took a lot of risks. I was also bulimic for years and I always had the yearning to go to sleep and not wake up. Until my early 20’s when I met the first person who had ever made me feel safe and loved. It all started to come out- all the pain, all the fear,all the flashbacks and nightmares. Everything vivid in horrible technicolor. I became depressed, a previously healthy sex life was destroyed for long periods at a time. I went from one therapist to another over the years trying to stop feeling like I want to die just like I felt when I was a hopeless child. I found the courage to talk to my mother about it. She believed me initially but then after she had spoken to my father she said it was my fault and that as a child I had ‘come onto him and wouldn’t let him stop’. I couldn’t believe it when she said she never wanted to speak to me again and that I was a “filthy, disgusting bitch”. I have 5 brothers and sisters. I think maybe something happened to one of my sisters but would not talk to me about it. I think she is angry at me for leaving home and leaving them with the monster. I didn’t know then that child abusers very rarely have just one victim. i thought it had happened because there was something wrong with me which was ‘proven’ when I was raped. None of my sibling will have anything to do with me. I am the ‘black sheep’ because I warned them not to let their children near him. I am ‘crazy Helen& #039;. I have never had the courage to talk to the police about him but I think about it a lot. I worked as a sexual health nurse for years and helped rape and abuse victims at the point of disclosure often for the first time. I then became a specialist in child sexual exploitation and child abuse because I feel an overwhelming desire to make it better for other people and I feel I am able to help other people going trough the trauma of sexual violence. But as a professional in the field I find it impossible to disclose my personal experiences because it would appear ‘unprofessional’ or that somehow I would be less credible. I have trained thousands of professionals in how to identify and support children and young people who have experienced or are experiencing abuse and have campaigned for changes in how services respond. I have heard the stories and helped to rebuild countless young people who have been brave enough to accept the support I so badly needed as a child and teenager. Yet years of this and hopping from one therapist to another has not stopped the pain I feel. It burns inside me along with the locked in shame I felt as a child. I’m still working on it and won’t let those bastards beat me. I have a fantasy of going up to deliver a speech at a conference and like Linor tell my personal story. To once and for all break the silence that fuels my shamed child locked away inside me. I have just watched the exceptionally moving and inspiring documentary and feel that I am one step closer to being brave enough to do just that. Thank you brave women 🙂

— Helen, age 43

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