Surviving Childhood Abuse

A ‘little secret’ between adult abusers and children had, until very recently, been kept just that – a secret.

Too scared, too ashamed, too embarrassed, feeling too guilty to speak out, children were left bewildered and frightened by what was happening to them, with no one to turn to for help. And it’s very likely that they wouldn’t have been believed anyway.

When people such as Esther Rantzen and Childline first raised the subject of child sex abuse there was an air of disbelief that anything like that could happen. The disbelief quickly turned to appalling certainty as case after case came to light.

Now we all know that abuse – sexual and physical – goes on in every walk of life, involving people of all backrounds. And it has done for a very long time.

There are hundreds, even thousands of adults in the UK today who have known the terror of the ‘little secret’, and it has blighted not only their childhood, but their adult lives too. Prison governors have told agencies in this field that their jails are packed with people who have been physically and sexually abused as children. And many are vulnerable to forming adult abusive relationships too, so the circle of abuse goes on.

The physical and mental scars left by the experience need help to heal. If you were abused as a child, either sexually or physically the organisations listed can offer advice, help and, perhaps most importantly for many, a listening and understanding ear.

Trisha's Tips

  • It wasn’t your fault – speak out now
  • Sometimes your family may not believe you because it’s too scary for them – that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen
  • The longer you struggle to keep your abuse a secret, the longer the abuser has a hold on you.

Where to get Help

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood
NAPAC is there to help adults suffering from distress caused by ill treatment of any kind and/or neglect in childhood.
0800 085 3330 (free phone)
Opening hours vary day to day, details are published on the website.

Victim Support
Victim Support can offer help for people suffering emotional crisis and help you report that abuser to the police.
0845 30 30 900 (Call costs below)
Monday-Friday 9am to 9pm
Weekends 9am to 7pm

For children who have been or are being abused now.
0800 11 11 (free phone)
Monday-Sunday 24 hours

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