With the increase in historic child abuse cases and in light of the Jimmy Savile affair and Church of England sex scandal, an Eastbourne support group is urging victims to speak out.
The Eastbourne Survivors Group says since the news broke about the Savile allegations and revelations of local sex abuse scandals, such issues cannot be ignored any longer.
Judy Pass from the group said, “It must have been my fault - I let it happen, maybe if I keep quiet I will be able to forget about it, pretend it never happened. Children who have been abused tell themselves these things because more often than not it is easier than admitting what is or what has happened.
“The difficulty that adults who were abused as children experience in trying to overcome their traumatic and disturbing past is even less talked about. People abused as children often end up living with a dark secret, filled with anger, mistrust, shame and guilt. It has for many been really difficult to get help – that is if they even realise that they can be helped.
“Thankfully public awareness is on the increase and it is now much easier to talk about the subject more openly. The Eastbourne Survivors Group was set up in 1992 after two members of staff working within mental health services saw there was a gap in the support available for adults who had been sexually abused as children. After arranging a public meeting to find out what survivors themselves wanted, the current group was born.”
One group member said, “We never really know how many of us will be attending but it’s all very friendly and informal. I guess there’s a nucleus of about eight or so who attend regularly. No register is called, we just turn up and can leave whenever we want to.
“We all have one thing in common, we were sexually abused as childre. We are not children now though but fully grown adults, trying to come to terms with what has happened to us, what happened to us in our tender years. Nobody has to talk about their experiences in the group unless of course they want to.
“There’s never any pressure, just a friendly and welcoming atmosphere where we can feel safe and be with other people who really understand some of what you’ve experienced, how it’s affected you and how you are feeling.
“When our abuse took place, it wasn’t talked about; it was a taboo subject in fact. So, for some, it can be really difficult at first to break that secret. There are times when we feel desperate, sometimes resorting to harming ourselves but don’t be afraid if that happens to you, we know it’s a way of coping, of staying alive.
“In the group we feel able to talk freely about these kind of things because we know we will be understood. Often, I find myself going home with a lighter heart and I know I am not alone.”
The group is open to both men and women who suffered childhood sexual abuse and their partners and welcomes people from Brighton, Hastings and Crowborough.