Picking Up The Pieces
- by Graham Wilmer & Survivors
- £4.50 (inc. P&P)
A survival guide for all victims of childhood sexual abuse
Written by Graham Wilmer and fellow survivors, this book will be of real help to survivors, counsellors and all other professionals working with victims of child abuse. ‘Picking up the pieces’ answers all those difficult questions – like how to tell someone that you have been sexually abused; who to tell; what will happen next; where to get help and what type of help is available. It includes first hand information on how sexual abuse affects children and their development, and unique insights into the mental health problems that often occur later in life, resulting from abuse. It also includes an up-to-date, comprehensive review of the criminal and civil law in England in relation to victims of abuse, and the moving and disturbing accounts of more than fifty survivors of child abuse – voices of courage, who have told their stories here, many for the first time ever, to help other victims understand that they are not alone and they can recover.
Keeping Safe: Before you begin to read this book, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that you may find some of it very painful. If you feel nervous about that, ask someone you trust to sit with you while you read. If you can’t do that, for whatever reason, the next best thing is to think of something that makes you feel safe or happy, such as a pet or a loved one. This image will be your ‘rescue image’. Then, as you work your way through the book, if anything you read triggers painful memories or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, put the book down, close your eyes and think about your rescue image. In a few moments, you will feel safe again. Then take a rest from the book and come back to it later.
Picking up the pieces – Introduction
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, an experience that blighted my life, but made me who I am. I am not alone, although for most of my life I thought that I was. I know now that what happened to me has also happened to many others. It is still happening today and it will happen again tomorrow and the day after that, to children not yet born, unless we do something to stop it.
The facts are hard to believe – one out of every four children in the UK has been abused. 38% of girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. 16% of boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. The majority of these children are abused by a member of their family, or by someone they know, yet only 5% of all cases of abuse is reported to the police. In the so called ‘less developed’ nations, the numbers of children being sexually abused is so large that it is simply not calculable with any degree of accuracy.
As a species, we are unique – we have the ability to think, and therefore to choose what we do, an accident of nature that separates us from all other animals on the planet we share. Yet the scourge of child abuse that has ruined the lives of children for centuries continues to do so with impunity. Why? What is it about the human condition that allows this awful evil to persist, and why is still so difficult to talk about the problem openly?
To help you understand the damage sexual abuse causes, I have collected together here some of the many stories told to me by those who, like me, chose not to remain silent any longer about what happened to us when we were children, despite the further difficulties that disclosure also created.
What you are about to read is true. If you are a survivor of child abuse, you will recognise everything that is written here, as your own story will be the same. If you are not a survivor, you will understand the pain that these children underwent at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect them. You will also feel the weight of the crushing burden we were forced to carry for most of our lives, until we finally found the courage to speak out, releasing the guilt, disgust, shame, fear and anger that we have carried for so long.
Founder – The Lantern Project