Do I know when it began, oh yes I certainly do!!

By Theresa Duggan

I was a child of nine. I was sexually abused for three years, till I was twelve, when I made a serious suicide attempt. I was never the same. The innocence of childhood had been robbed from me. I was scared and then tortured by my memories. Was it really my fault, I knew it wasn’t right, why didn’t I leave and never come back. But I did, I kept coming back for three years.

The guilt, the shame, I covered up with drugs and alcohol and that carried me into my late twenties. At that time I took up a relationship with someone who I thought would protect me, I thought no would touch me with him around. He was a biker and what I didn’t realize was that I would become the one who feared and needed protection from him. He isolated me from my family and friends, verbally assaulted me, and beat me. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with his child that I drew the line. No more abuse that could possibly hurt my child. I kicked him out and went into hiding until after the baby was born. In the end I got sole custody and no access granted to me after a year and a half in the court system. I got permission to leave the province and left immediately.

I remained in hiding for sixteen years, and then my daughter found her father on Facebook. I needed to talk to someone experienced with this type of situation. I called Battered Women’s Support Services for support and guidance; I was placed on a waiting list.

I have been seeing a trauma worker for almost two years. I have been brutality honest with myself and my worker. This is new to me; my shame and guilt have always silenced me, now I can’t shut up. I am not someone who needs crisis management, I need to have a long term counselor who I have built trust with, who I am confident in, who respects me whose opinion I value.

My quality of life has changed, my own self-respect, my self awareness, feeling like I’m not alone, a feeling of belonging. All these things I have gained through BWSS. For someone like me, with the history I have there is no quick fix, I have needed slow, consistent support.  This has really worked for me. Just this May I was the recipient of the COAST 2010 Courage to come back award in Mental Health. This award is given to a British Columbian who has overcome extraordinary challenges and adversity and who has given back to their communities.