To my former self: Heidi's Story
Recalling my experiences, the effects and impact always causes me to reflect. Looking back with hindsight and knowledge there are always things you wish were different. Chances missed, moments where you so wanted to be brave and speak up but you were paralysed by fear, shame and guilt. Believing that somehow all of this was your fault and so you remained silent. I began to wonder about what someone could have said to me to help me in my younger days. So I've decided to write all the things I would have said in the hope that it could potentially reach just one person.
This is not your fault. None of it. I know you are confused, scared and believe you are trapped. He says not to tell, keep the secret and then things will be fine.
But they are not fine are they?
He does terrible things to you when no-one is looking. It hurts and it makes you feel scared. What he does is not right. No adult, no matter how much you love or trust them, has the right to do those things. I know you cry every night wishing this was over.
Silent sobs that you hold in your chest so no-one can hear. He tells you no-one will believe you, they will call you a liar. I will believe you and others will too. There are people who want to help you. Who can make you feel safe and not alone. To help you face what has been happening and deal with it. No-one is going to force you to do anything you don't want. You are in control. Most of all, more than anything I want you to know that if you can be brave you will be listened to and believed.
You are not alone.
As an adult who finally made this step I can say it has been the most freeing, healing and positive thing I have ever done for myself. One tiny step can lead to a very different future …
I took part in the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The Truth Project has made a pledge to listen to the voices of victims without fear or favour, and I wanted my voice to be heard.
The Truth Project offers victims and survivors the opportunity to share their experience in writing, on the telephone or in person.
Survivors of child sexual abuse who would like to share their experiences and put forward recommendations for change can get in touch with the Truth Project by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via their website www.truthproject.org.uk.
Follow them at - Twitter: @InquiryCSA or Facebook: TruthProjectCSA
Art by Catriona Morton @tacriona