Patrick shares how he has used theatre as a way to tell the story of the abuse he experienced as a child.
I didn’t want to believe that it had happened. I wanted to deny it. So for quarter of a century I told no one about the abuse I suffered as a schoolboy.
Then I wrote a play to share the truth. It has helped me to heal and I hope it will help you.
A Child from an alcoholic family. I was abused at the age of 9 and 10, by my Primary School teacher, repeatedly for a period of a school year.
I knew something was gravely wrong – but I attributed this wrongness to the fact that I was queer – at a time when it was still illegal and actually dangerous to be so.
The psychological consequences of my abuse were catastrophic. I developed a self-loathing and a hyper-vigilance which meant trusting anyone was immeasurably challenging.
There is this huge thing that if a man admits to having had some kind of sexual victimhood, that is seen as weak.
I also feared I would be labelled a potential abuser myself because of a myth that persists that many men who were abused as children go on to perpetuate that abuse.
I was 35 before I commenced therapy. And even then it was several years before I started to process the abuse. Since then I have had extensive therapy of various kinds.
We all have different wounds from which we have to recover. You will think about your own life. The truth really can set you free.
Where child sexual abuse is concerned local Authorities, especially Education Authorities are experts at lip service. Child Protection all too often means not Protection of Children, but rather Protection of the Authority from Reputational Damage or worse Litigation. Here is a genuine quote from a local government officer:
“Those officers at the top of the chain steer clear of possible dangers to their careers and it’s not about the survivor of the abuse, it’s about their own futures that they worry.”
It seems that historic sexual abuse is just not part of their current strategic priorities. This stuff happened so long ago. We don’t need to respond to it
For men the average length of time between an incident/s of sexual abuse and even speaking about it, is 26 years. During those 26 years the survivor is living with the psychological consequences.
Don’t let anyone fob you off with that “you should have got over it by now” excuse. I sought help in my later life and have learnt that it is possible to be happy and fulfilled.
The therapy I went through principally gave me insight into my condition – immensely valuable, but insight does not give physical life.
I wrote a dramatised testimony about the psychological after effects of trauma which I performed myself, aided by a brilliant director. It’s called Groomed
I wrote GROOMED simply to tell the truth. I had no idea it would take off as it has. I worked hard to keep it short, powerful and bold, but never for one moment depressing.
Audiences seem to be on the edge of their seats, and at the end I am always startled by how many people say I have told their story, including many with no experience of abuse at all.
I am at a strange rather wonderful stage in my life, where I can be startled, even delighted, to discover the new person I am still becoming.
I have also written a memoir for the Brave Movement about my trip with this fabulous activist organisation to the recent G7 summit in Munich, Germany, and our demands on these influential world leaders.
I am passionate about men’s healing and I work with Mankind UK and Survivors UK to use my experience to help encourage others like you to seek the help you deserve.
I am passionate about advocating on behalf of survivors, particularly of childhood sexual abuse and I work with organisations and policymakers.
These are the policy issues I continually raise:
Like we do for HIV & COVID we need notices in every public building in the country which say:
IF YOU FEEL SEXUALLY DRAWN TO MOLEST A CHILD
HERE IS THE CONFIDENTIAL TELEPHONE NUMBER TO CALL.
That number must be manned by skilled professionals.
As for the COVID vaccines, we must prioritise researching the complicated and varied causes of the impulse to abuse children, and the best ways to interact with those who experience these impulses, whether or not they act on them.
There are some dedicated people doing this research already. We need many more – a properly funded programme, fast. The alternative is to accept the abuse of 1 in 4 children.
Between 1% and 5% of young people are today reaching puberty, or their mid or late teens and discovering that their primary sexual attraction is towards children. What is being done to help them, non-judgementally? Are these young people even talked about in staff-rooms, School Boards, University and College Counselling Departments, National and Local Education Departments/Ministries, Mental Health Departments?
We must stop deluding ourselves that the answer is tougher sentencing for those tiny few abusers actually convicted. This is shutting the stable door after the child has been abused. The aim must be prevention.
Every Child Safety Committee in the country must number at least one adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Who else knows better the need for prevention, healing and justice?
No Director of Education, no Headteacher, no Teacher, No Social Worker, no Police Officer, no Doctor, no Mental Health practitioner, should be appointed who has not had full and proper training in Trauma Awareness. Especially there must be wide understanding that the damage of sexual abuse does not stop when the child grows up. The affects of sexual abuse are lifelong.
No Home Secretary, Minister of Education, Council Director, Head Teacher, should ever utter the words: “We take these matters very seriously” unless they are followed by a detailed description of how.
Any Education Official, any official person, any human being who seriously believes a DBS check (Police Crime Check) stops child abuse should be gently told to wise up. The vast majority of people who abuse children have no criminal record.
Fighting online abuse is fashionable. As much investment must be made into abuse offline. The availability of internet child pornography, and online grooming and abuse, has NOT stopped actual physical sexual abuse.
In the UK the recommendations of the government’s INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE must not lie unread or un-implemented.
No County or City Council, no Education or Health Authority should receive funding which has not put in place visible support resources for adult survivors of sexual abuse, including women and girls, men and boys, trans and non-binary. Not to do so is the equivalent of depriving your community of antibiotics or paracetamol.
Government, National and Local, must understand that money spent on prevention, and on effective recovery services, will result in more adult human beings able to contribute, and crucially, more adult human beings feeling they belong in the world.
Currently, Prime Minister, your children stand a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually violated before the age of 18. The damage may last a lifetime. We must act to protect them!
It is important that I do not define myself as a survivor or childhood trauma. This is what was done to me; it is not who I am.