Thursday, 29 July 2010


This blog is not an easy read. The subject matter is difficult and we make no apology for that. The reason we are writing this now is so that other people affected don't suffer in silence.  It is easy to not talk about this stuff because there is an element of it being a taboo subject, but to be honest, that just helps leave people trapped. So, we would encourage you to read this prayerfully and would encourage you to leave comments or speak with people you trust. We would be happy to either speak with you or point you to others who may be able to help. Finally, I want to thank Catherine for her courage in allowing this to be published.

Hi, I'm Catherine, some of you will know of me from church, others through reading posts in this blog. I'm 32, married to Gareth and we have two children, Becky (almost 4) and Josh (just turned 2). I grew up in a loving, Christian family and had a 'normal' childhood. By the time I was 16, like most other people, I had encountered things that had built me up, and things that had damaged, but nothing that straightforward prayer wouldn't have sorted out at the appropriate time.

Then, on a school trip, I was assaulted by one of the leaders.

School Trip
The leader bought me a drink,
I thought it was kind
- I was too young to drink beer or wine.
Then you walked me back to the tent,
I thought that you were being such a gent.
So I gave you a kiss, my first,
but you wanted more.
I tried to stop you from having it all
but I couldn't for you were too strong,
and words were blocked up, tying my tongue.

Silence then reigned, as my friends teased and laughed
and I laughed it off with a well put on mask.
But inside the numbness and shock was right there,
and the self blame had started, and lack of self care.

Surely it was my fault -
I had chosen to drink,
if I hadn't it wouldn't have happened I think.

I must have flirted to give him a signal
he seemed so nice before buying drinks and all

I should have cried out loud to say no!
instead of just trying to push him away.

Or did what I wore make him do it to me?
My value has waned as small as a flea.

My friends were there, I feel so dirty,
what did they see, shame has now caught me.

Could I be pregnant, what did he do?
I remember I was bleeding when I sat on the loo.

But what was wrong was not my choice,
but rather his when he stopped my voice
and afterwards I felt the shame
that should have been placed on his name

David: Your poem hints at some of the immediate impact; the self-accusation, the internalising of the hurt, the silence - can you tell us some of the longer term effects?

Catherine: Sure, where to start! I guess one of the bigger ones was anxiety; I became anxious around people, especially those in leadership, and when I needed to say something in front of a group, my brain would pretty much stop working - I would have to practise breathing to try and not panic. Even then, what would often come out would be incoherent.

Secondly, I felt I needed to stay in control of things, even to the extent of struggling to allow Gareth my husband help with the kids.

Then there's all that's associated with what I would now recognise as depression which has affected me at different levels for the last 16 years: feeling robotic and numb - like I wasn’t really living and couldn’t enjoy anything or have fun with anyone. And a period of wanting to kill myself, because I felt I was such an awful person.

In the early days my grades went down at school, and I found concentrating harder, which I just dismissed as me actually being quite stupid. Then there were times when I would suddenly burst into tears and get angry at stupid moments, responding out of proportion to what the moment was, leaving me feeling more awful afterwards. Sleeping became very poor and is still not great, often leaving me on the edge of exhaustion. I also realise now that I was living pretty much on guard, over aware of all going on around me, my brain not really switching off.

Of course it had an impact on relationships as well; not speaking about such a profound event closed down some other aspects of relationships with friends and family as well. Sex went from being something precious for marriage to something suddenly less; I felt I was there to be used, cos that's what happens. Then when I went to church, I felt like the worst Christian, like an outsider, felt I didn’t belong, that I couldn’t be close to God.

I hope this selection of the whole gives a flavour of the big and little things that have been affected in my life.

David: We know this stuff happens all too often - most people tend to shy away from talking about it or feel that it is beyond their ability to help with. What would you say to those who have friends who have been through similar ordeals - how can they help?

Catherine: Just being there for someone, treating them as a person, patiently listening, caring, not trying to take over decisions, but giving time for the person to make their own choices. reminding them the truth that it was not their fault!

Different things help different people, but I guess that for me It helped to be encouraged to speak to the doctor, which was a difficult place for me to go to, regarding depression, in order to give me some strength to deal with some of the underlying stuff, and affirming that it was ok to be feeling the way I was feeling and that I was not going mad! The truth is that in the process of the underlying issues being dealt with, there have been times when things have been way more difficult than they before they were addressed. For example, as I reconnected with emotions that had been shut off, I suddenly had to deal with emotions that I hadn't had for a long while, and felt like I had regressed back to a 3 year old having tantrums, and in confronting the truth the pain that had been buried surfaced, and where I hadn't been feeling stuff about it, suddenly had anger, and rage, and hurt that I could not put into words.  But as I have journeyed through this the freedom I have had given to me has been so much better than the way I was living before

David: I know that you've already experienced some significant healing and freedom - and that you are still journeying in these. What are some of the key steps that have been instrumental in this process?

Catherine: Yep, the last year has been an amazing journey - difficult though. Key steps; being as honest as I could be with someone I trusted, allowing God to help, and letting go of control. Recognising that what happened was wrong, illegal, and not my fault. Acknowledging the impact it had had on me and that I had tried so many coping strategies to cover up. Speaking to my family about it (I hadn't spoken to anyone at the time for a number of reasons, which had led to me shutting down a bit with my family!!). Exercising forgiveness in the sense of handing it over to God as perfect judge, and letting go of my right to judge. Recognising the things that I thought |I had lost, but which God was giving back. Lots - from the spiritual - allowing God to break strongholds, to simply accepting practical advice (helping my kids getting into a sleep pattern)

David: And writing some wonderful poetry.

Catherine: Yep hadn't written a poem before last summer, they have really helped me to express myself when I couldn't talk verbally about stuff...

Your eyes watching, leering, using.
value on the outside - inside hidden,
making me meaningless, unimportant.
What do you see, a cheap fix?
An object to fulfil all your desires, your lust,
someone to sleep with, no strings attached.
I see your eyes, I see your look, mind fixed on outside appearance.
An object. Mine. I want a bit of her they stare and say.

But a bit of me, is not for you, for no-one has a bit of me,
not a small bit, or a big bit, for I don't come in bits, to be used as needed,
For I am not man made, but a child of God.
Not a projection of your imagination,
but a real person, body, mind and soul, not just body.
And I am to be loved, not lusted after,
to be protected, respected,
not consumed and devoured, like a cream cake.

God's eyes watching, loving, caring,
value on inside.
I am meaningful, beautiful, important, beloved.


  1. truly moving! Love you to peices cat! You are an insirational being! Helen W

  2. Catherine - you are a beautiful, holy and godly woman. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for the encouragement that healing is possible. It is awesome to see what God does in a person's life ... Thanks for letting us have a glimpse!

  3. You are very brave to share this experience; an experience or one which is similar which too many people can relate to. But it is often easier to keep quiet, suffer from time to time in silence and subsequently feel the guilt. I think you will have helped many people by being able to give us some insight into what happened and how God has healed you,

  4. Catherine,very moving to read your story & proud of you to have the courage and wisdom to share. I am sure that this will help many people. Thank you for you honesty. You are a wonderful lady. May GOD Bless you and strengthen your purpose. Melanie

  5. you were so brave to share this, i'm so glad God has helped you to get through this and it's so amazing that you are using the experience to help others, it's inspiring! Lizzy

  6. Thanks Catherine for sharing this on the blog. It emonstates the measure of healing that you already have received, by sharing what you have. It can't be easy, but I am sure that this will help so many; not jsut those who suffered exactly as you did, but alos those who have experienced other types of use and abuse.

    I pray that you continue to be aware of God's love, care, comfort, healing, for you and your family. Love Anthea xx