“I didn’t have a childhood at all…”

A drawing, or possibly an etching, of a woman, entitled This is a guest post by CRASAC. Please take care reading on, as it may be triggering.

Neesha*’s Story is one of desperate despair, a childhood robbed, but it is also a story about hope, she has been at the very bottom and knows how it feels. Her message is simple, find help, it’s out there.

Downstairs, I could hear them playing, I so desperately wanted to be there, playing with them… but I couldn’t. was in the bedroom with the man who came into my life and took away my childhood. I was nine years old.

It started after my dad had passed away. My mum remarried pretty much straight away, and the man she brought into our home – my new stepdad – started abusing me.

It continued for seven years, every day for seven years.

With the sexual abuse, came mental abuse. I was changing, it was affecting me.

My dad was a brilliant man and I was grieving after his death. I was vulnerable.

This new man who came into our lives started telling me I’d done something wrong and I believed him. I used to try to work out what it was I had done wrong. But I couldn’t work it out because I hadn’t done anything, I was just nine years old.

He started scaring me, telling me I’d get chucked out of the house if my family found out. He would tell me that there was no-one around for us because my dad’s not here and he would eventually kill us all. But he would keep me alive with him for a couple of days before he killed me too.

We’re a big family, nobody knew and there was no way anybody would have known because people like him are very clever. They don’t do it in front of everyone, they use very clever, sneaky tactics to do this.

It was affecting me mentally. I was becoming very bitter. My family didn’t know, and I started to hate them as well, started to wish it wasn’t me it was happening to.

But when I was about fourteen, I knew I had to stop it. I had become so bitter and twisted and angry by then. So I decided that when I was sixteen I would just leave home without telling anyone. And that’s what I did. I just left home, didn’t have contact with the family for years and years.

I didn’t have a childhood at all. I can honestly say I didn’t experience a happy day after my dad died and that’s the truth. I was fearful all the time. I was anxious. I was agitated. I felt embarrassed. I hated myself you know?

I used to dress in baggy clothes and try to make myself not look attractive but at the same time I didn’t feel I was attractive anyway compared to everyone else. I just hated myself.

I came to CRASAC when my doctor referred me for counselling. Really, from there I started getting help. But it’s a long journey. I think what people need to understand is certain words, smiles, places, times, it all could affect you. It can bring everything flooding back.

I mean I love my child so much, more than anything in the world but giving her a bath will bring back memories for me and you’re expected to… fit into a society of what you call ‘normal people’ but you don’t feel normal yourself.

So I decided to talk about my experience to help others.

I’ve been right at the bottom as well and I know, and it makes my heart hurt to know people are like that, there’s people like that who are feeling rock bottom at the moment and I just want people to know that there’s help.

We’re not just a number or statistic, we’re living people who do need that help and we need to rebuild our lives because our lives have been shattered through no fault of our own.

And I’m doing this just to let people know that you can get through it, but you need all the right help in order to do it.

For Neesha, she decided to go on the journey to rebuild her life. You can too.

Ring this number to speak to us: 024 76 277777 Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm and Monday and Thursday 6pm to 8pm.

*Neesha is a pseudonym.

CRASAC were the winner of the Guardian charity of the year award 2011. This is a video about their work.

The image is a black and white drawing, or possibly an etching, of a woman, entitled “Sad Eyed”. It was taken by URBAN ARTefakte and is used under a Creative Commons Licence