I write to thank you for publishing the struggle; brave of Ruhzwana Begum. Beautiful, successful and courageous Ruhzwana. I am no Ruhzwana. I am an ordinary, 35 year old Pakistani, muslim female. A face nameless amongst masses. Ignored, isolated, misunderstood. Alone, I stand even when I am not. A misfit by definition, early in life. My diagnose infested, the new age disease of child sexual abuse.
I am a survivor of incest generational, a history repeating itself. 15 years ago a flashback destroyed a life once, I thought I uncomfortably knew now a strangers unfamiliar. From the moment I remembered, to the day I disclosed my secrets dirty to a family unwilling, I faced rejection and disbelief, ongoing. A cycle of pain that began a spiral downward rather than validation long wanted. So, yes, thank you Ruhzwana as I now feel compelled to be heard.
I am the voiceless voice, not of a Pakistani, muslim girl but a child, scared, frightened and alone in moments more than many. A voice that has desperately fought to change patterns ugly. For 15 years now, my attempts to protect our children on ears deaf. Voices of the children of the past, silences of adults of today with the hope to save the children of the future. This isn’t about religion or culture. It is about a generational cycle of ignorance and denial embedded deep in our histories and systems.
It’s simply not blaming one over the other. It is about accountabilities of those who just did not see, will not see and cannot see the truth of a reality prevalent. It’s about the primary school that ignored a child troubled and withdrawn or the doctors who didn’t want to notice the chronic under eating of a child 8 or parents who were deceived by a wolf manipulative. Its also about the A+E department that washed it’s hands off a child troubled by pointing out that they could only help if I actually killed myself. Or the intensive care unit that over looks another overdose or police officers that shun another supposed juvenile delinquent. Better still, social workers who close files knowing that there are potential risks plenty to proof little. Communities that sadly, celebrate the success of a wolf who can’t be prosecuted on the account of flashbacks. Perpetrators, who continue their vile intimidation of survivors and their families by playing the shame card over and over again. Therapists, who have no real idea about the intricacies of an adult or child who has survived abuse. Actually, they don’t even phone back these days, clearly, it’s not a matter important yet. Surviving so far, so why bother, right? This is about the collective responsibility of society to protect vulnerable, ordinary faces like mine.
I maybe ordinary and nameless, yet I cannot seem to give up. There’s a seed buried deep within, which wont allow this fight to be over. Yes, I know this maybe another attempt failed at having my voice voiceless heard but I will continue to try. For so long now, I have searched to find others like me. Somewhere I can belong too. 12 years late a NHS survivors group finds my way towards me where, I was the only face other. I still relish in this family unwanted, as I have no other. Deep, in my heart, knowing so many others are somewhere amongst the nameless masses. I wait.
Today, I write this to reach out to others like me. Also, to share ideas that I feel may help shape the future of childrens and adults, many.
1. Child and parent self awareness sessions. Like firework and road safety, parents and children from really early on to be taught the underwear rule. Maybe even classes before children are born to encourage parents to be safe.
2. Open and honest dialogue between service providers and parents to better inform them about signs of abuse and perpetrators.
3. To create a circle of trust with children where they can speak to a trusted safe adult, who will hear and help them.
3. Multi lingual support material and books for parents, families of survivors and survivors who do not speak or read English as a first language.
4. An independent, single point of contact where abuse can be disclosed to relevant authorities and support can be arranged. 5. Child protection training from a survivors point of view given to parents teachers, NHS staff, social workers, doctors, counsellors and related services.
6. Survivor groups more readily available for survivors and families.
7. Suitably trained therapist to deal with adult survivors and children, historical abuse, incest, male sex abuse.
8. Therapy for parents and family members to better cope with disclosure. 9. Parenting workshops to aid with coping strategies for families and care givers.
10. Tool kits for the NHS and police in order to identify subtle clues of a victim of abuse who is unable to access help. Beneath every child acting out there is potential of an abused one.
10. Community support groups to break down the ignore and culture of silence within communities closed. A non racially sensitive approach to stop shutting down outsiders.
11. Criminal punishment for those who fail to report abuse or suspected abuse.
12. National helpline’s in different languages.
13. Proactive and positive spaces for where survivors can develop skills, coping mechanisms and meet positive role models. Survivor wellbeing workshops where intense support is available on healthy living, relationships and life patterns. A service where all social systems can refer or take a survivor. E.g. Police can refer a suspected survivor for support rather than leaving them to commit another offence.
14. Positive survivor stories to be available as resource material. Survivor forums and places to meet survivors who can encourage positive ways of coping.
15. Collaborative services that avoid stigma and blaming survivors
There are so many possibilities, yet I feel time is running out.
I stumbled across survival as I realise I deserve to live a life free from my past. My family and I, finally, freed from our shackles of shame. Today, united we stand to fight this disease atrocious. I know I can play my part, however, small. I will continue to raise awareness and provide support to those I encounter or those who cross paths with me on twitter @HopesInspired. I hope that one day soon, I can begin my PhD research in survivor support services. In the meantime, I hope this letter falls in the hands of someone who is willing to see past my nameless face.
I kindly thank you for time. Time once I would feel undeserved now in hope, simply. However, try I will. I made a choice to live another day without shame of a past dirty.
Moments beautiful, merely passer-by.
Essence of time, like sand in fingertips light.
Still stillness, joyful in its delight.
Today pending in tomorrows insight.
A life lived in hope timeless.
We survive today for another day.
Many more years in sight.
See me, please.
An ordinary stranger