South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

My journey to seeking help

For Female Survivors, Male Survivors

Tags: Counselling, Survivor's Stories

By Judy

In the beginning

At the time that I decided I needed help I had hit a rock bottom. I had always been prone to mood swings and could burst into tears without any provocation. This was a time in my life when everything was seemingly improving. I had changed my address to a much better style of housing. After several years of inconsistent employment I had a job that promised permanency, however I became more and more depressed. I reached the point where everything seemed hopeless. I felt isolated, alone and extremely angry, having uncontrollable fits of rage for what seemed the smallest problems. During this period I was having flashbacks to times of sexual abuse. After one suicide attempt I had reached the point of desperation and began seeking professional help. However, this was unsuccessful and I eventually rang the "QUIT LINE" thinking that perhaps this was partially due to nicotine withdrawal. During my conversation with the person at the "QUIT LINE" I mentioned the sexual abuse and he referred me to SECASA.

Secasa

I had read about SECASA before at the Monash Medical Centre but thought that this was not relevant to my situation, as the events that I was remembering happened during my teens and early adulthood, and SECASA dealt only with childhood sexual abuse and incest. I mentioned this to the woman who answered the phone when I first contacted them. However, she recommended me to a counsellor and I entered personal counselling which I continued for approximately 18 months.

Personal counselling

For the first time in my life I was able to discuss my feelings without fear of recrimination or rebuttal. I felt that what I said would be treated with confidence and at last I had a safe environment where I could open up and express my inner torment. Together with this counsellor we dealt with feelings of low self esteem and my internal critic. I discovered ways of overcoming that nagging voice that constantly criticised and condemned me. During this session I entered group counselling.

Group counselling

For the first time I found people with whom I could identify. I really believed I was losing my mind and here were people expressing my feelings. This certainly helped with the feelings of isolation and I left that group having overcome my despair and misery with feelings of elation, similar to an adrenalin rush. This continued for quite some time. I continued with the personal counselling for approximately 12 months before deciding to desist, believing that I was cured and able to continue without the necessity of counselling. However, it became apparent that this was not so, but I was too embarrassed to admit this to myself or anyone else.

Approximately 9 months after I ended the personal counselling I was invited to join a second group. It came at a time when I was on a downward slide emotionally and was relieved at the opportunity to once again seek support and help. As the group continued it became more and more apparent that there were still a lot of unresolved issues, especially as I was beginning to have flashbacks to other times of child sexual abuse that I had never been conscious of before.

Return to personal counselling

After the completion of the group I once again began personal counselling. I am able to delve much deeper and reveal things about myself that I have not felt confident to reveal to anyone before. With being able to open up about these issues I am able for the first time to confront and deal with them in an honest and open way. In doing this I am gradually gaining some control over them and no longer letting them control me, although this is not continual, it is improving.

Conclusion

I believe that my attendance at SECASA has been for a journey of self discovery, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I now realise that these are the areas that my history of sexual abuse has affected and instead of trying to continue without understanding the cause of my depression I am able to look at it objectively and seek ways of dealing with it. Being able to share what I think and feel in a safe and understanding environment has allowed me to become more self aware and search for alternative ways of living.

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