Glass of Mud

To survive, some people sell the use of their bodies to others and we condemn them for it. I can only imagine that if they had other easier ways to achieve the same results they would choose those first. The reason this scenario is on my mind is not that I am about to do the same but because I am considering bearing my soul, warts and all, by writing a book about my experiences, partially for the same reason.

My story needs to be told whether I put a price tag on it or not. We are all surrounded by those who are currently and have experienced unimaginable horrors who don’t feel that they have a voice; they need to know that they are not alone and that there are good things that can also happen, even when you have lost all hope. The last thing I want to write is a monument to self-pity but rather a tribute to triumph over adversity.

I have written numerous blog posts outlining some of my experiences as I have absolutely no idea how to start to write my story in book form. I think it needs to be in the first person and will attempt that but having to relive the experiences in order to convey the actions, the emotions and the details will very much trigger my c-PTSD (more than it is on a daily basis anyway). Of course, it will be worth it, if in some ways I can then leave those experiences on the page and somehow evict them from the deepest part of my soul, where they have embedded themselves with blackened ever-reaching tentacles of fear, guilt, shame and horror.

I want to explore the thoughts that have filled my head since childhood of who would I have been? Who could I have been? What could my life have looked like if I had just been allowed to live it without hindrance, abandonment or abuse? Perhaps I would have made this world a much better place; by inventing or discovering something that would have changed the world for the better. Or, perhaps I would have just been content; slept deeply and woken up happy with my lot and feeling secure in my own skin and the world?

What probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind in others when thinking about the abuse of children are all of the associated issues that someone like me has to contend with lifelong. Abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it casts a tint across everyone and everything you come into contact with throughout your life so that nothing is untouched by it.

Every family member is part of the problem, whether they enacted the abuse or not. The abuse was borne in an environment that did not make it impossible to occur. There was no fear in the abuser that they would be found out; stopped and punished.

The recipient (victim is such an ugly, negative word that does survivors no justice at all) with just one act of abuse is forever changed. Imagine a glass of pure, clear spring water that has a spoonful of mud dropped into it; that water is no longer pure, or clear and cannot pass muster as such. There is a distorted signal embedded in every cell of your being that is read like code by the receivers of those around you; inadvertently attracting further abuse or purely repelling those whose water is still unsullied by unwelcomed grit, dirt, bacteria and unidentified toxins. For those on the receiving end of long-term abuse, the glass is mainly mud and very little water which at times makes it impossible to move in any direction at all.

As you wend your way along the only paths now opening up before you, your future is already changed and no matter how much you try to distil and cleanse yourself to be rid of the ‘stuff’ you now carry, the code readers know for sure that you are no longer that clear spring water that they are looking for. Worst of all, you know it too and make your way in life along the best paths that you can find, even fight to be on but in winning that unwanted battle you have already lost your way.

People who grow up in safe and secure, loving environments are lighter beings. The paths they traverse are invisible to heavier beings; hovering in an invisible realm far beyond our reach.

If I could write like Jeannette Walls, I wouldn’t ever look up from my keyboard. Her true novels – The Glass Castle, and Half Broken Horses are memoir masterpieces. Having read, nay devoured, those books, I am aware of my shortcomings as a writer. Somehow, Walls makes writing the horror of her appear childhood easy, which is the most amazing talent of all.

Even Kristin Hannah in her wonderful works of fiction touched on events and feelings that matched my own, remarkably having a character named Tully – which personalised the story for me. As a child, I was called Tuli and it was sometimes hard to separate my story from that in Hannah’s book(s).

Another memoir author suggested gathering my blog posts as the skeleton for my ‘true novel’ and writing around them to create a cohesive memoir, and another suggested that if the people included in my story take umbrage at my recollections of them and their actions, they should have behaved better. I like that – I am just not sure how that flies legally. Perhaps ‘true novel’ overrides those legal issues; not that I would include anything that is untrue but you know how so many ugly people do not like having the mirror held up to their faces reflecting the truth back at them.

The journey has just begun.


Philosophical Meanderings

It’s funny how things can trigger thoughts that were always there staring you in the face but you just never got around to actually forming the actual thoughts into coherent sentences or questions.

I am reading a book called ‘Found,’ by Erin Kinsley. I am not very far into the book just yet but somehow, somewhere in those first few chapters, I was triggered to revisit a thought that has been on my mind for several years. This same thought might also have been on your mind for some time, but I suspect only if you have suffered some kind of abuse that took place in your own home.

Why is it that abuse (physical/sexual/emotional/mental) is deemed far worse when it is perpetrated by a stranger? I think it’s even the same when the stranger attack happens only once and the family abuse is longstanding, over years and decades.

Just imagine what I am about to describe (not in any great detail, I might add) and register how you think and feel as you read the scenarios below:

  1. An innocent and happy five-year-old child is kidnapped from a park and taken to a Victorian semi in suburbia, where the kidnapper proceeds to feed, bathe and sexually abuse them frequently until the police track them down and rescue the child. This process takes a matter of days. The child is then seen by a government-funded therapist until they are able to cope. Their nursery/school is informed and all of the staff make sure to look out for the child and to take the circumstances into account when they show difficult behaviour, have low test scores or do not complete classwork and homework. They will also be awarded a significant level of compensation by the system.
  2. An innocent and happy five-year-old child lives in a Victorian semi in suburbia, where their parents proceed to feed and bathe them. The father sexually abuses the child frequently and the mother beats and berates them at a similar rate. This goes on for more than a decade until the child becomes a legal adult and leaves home (if they haven’t already run away or turned to drugs/alcohol and other destructive behaviours to numb the pain and trauma and to escape the abuse). There is a three-year waiting list for appropriate therapy and they will not be able to access it until they attend group therapy sessions to talk publicly, in front of strangers – who are also traumatised – about the extremely personal and terrifying circumstances that led to them being there. They decide to forgo the trauma therapy as it is, ironically, too traumatic to attend. They can of course pay privately for therapy, but having spent their lives thus far doing everything they can to just survive, being able to study (without any support from the school, which has regularly dismissed their greatest efforts as not good enough) and hold down a long term job, or build a career has not been high on their ‘to do’ list. This child will not be compensated, nor will they receive any benefits for their invisible disability/mental illness.

Perhaps it’s just me projecting my own thoughts based on the reactions from people in my own life to my childhood abuse, that makes me think that most people feel far more discomfort thinking about the first scenario over the second.

In fact, the second scenario might actually trigger negative feelings about the victim, rather than sympathy for them.

There’s something about a stranger violating a child that triggers people in a way that the same actions being carried out in the family home by someone the child knows (albeit not necessarily very well) don’t, making these very similar situations feel extremely different to those hearing about them.

It’s not just me, is it?

Which scenario triggered the most discomfort for you and why?

An Anniversary Not Worth Celebrating

Today is an anniversary that almost passed me by.

An anniversary that does not deserve a celebration, but purely a notation in the margin of my life to acknowledge its ugly existence.

Six years ago today, I saw my mother for the first time in a number of years. She has dementia/Alzheimer’s and her repugnant paedophile husband had forbidden us from seeing her – because he could.

Six years ago today, he died and thus started seven(more) years of hell (beyond description) that I have endured, only because I desperately needed to have a mother.

Albeit, a mother who is demented.

My life had started with her placing me into foster care at the age of 6 weeks. I am not going to make a judgement about it – just that it obviously has had life long consequences for me that have formed who I am, how I behave and what I do.

At the age of almost 10, (a week before my 10th birthday and Christmas – so, pretty much around this exact date), my mother took me back from my foster family, aka my family, to live with her and her paedophile boyfriend.

My lost family members’ names were not to be mentioned, nor was the fact that literally in the space of a split second I lost everything and everyone I had ever known. I, an almost 10 year old, was to go on as if everything was ‘normal.’

I was an almost 10 year old with absolutely no concept of ‘normal,’ as my normal is not something that should ever be inflicted on any child. Ever. Yet, I knew nothing else.

My vision of normality was borne from books and television shows, like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Perhaps my desire to live in the US also stems from these surrogate families, as I try to satisfy the gnawing emptiness where connection would have existed.

My heart soars and fills hungrily with visions of mountains, open lands and enormous skies and yet the infinite pain that reverberates within every cell of my being is never assuaged, despite the neverending efforts I make to find the comfort that is missing.

It’s impossible to create a parental attachment when there has been none. Those of you who developed one naturally, through being parented, will have absolutely no concept of what it means to not be ‘attached.’

It’s about a fundamental sense of safety, of being held up in the world by those you love and who love you, with a sense of trust that if you fall someone will catch you. It’s that feeling of rushing ‘home’ to tell someone your good news, knowing it will be celebrated however large or small, or knowing that when you fall apart, someone will always comfort you and tell you that everything will be okay…and knowing that in time, it really will be okay.

I don’t have that. Not at all, now or ever. Not even a miniscule amount of that because I wasn’t held up in the world by anyone. I was held down; figuratively and physically.

I rushed away from home because I never had one. To this day I have no attachment to a home. I live in a property – it has 4 walls – and it does not imbue a sense of safety or comfort. Whilst living there, I chase a dream of living elsewhere and spend every single penny I have and often do not have, in order to keep the dream alive and whilst doing all of that I worry that if and when I follow that dream, what will happen when I still do not feel any sense of ‘home.’ Still feel no sense of attachment.

I am always in the midst of freefalling.

Have you ever lost someone close to you – like a mother, a brother, a grandmother, a pet, a best friend, a life…?

If you have, you will know just how incredibly painful it is and that the pain and the ‘fall-out’ lasts a lifetime. It’s an all-consuming emotional pain that makes your heart, mind and body ache in such a way that there is no easement of the sensations that make you wonder if you are going mad.

For those of you who have lost someone fundamental to your existence, you will also know that internalising the reality and surging emotions of that loss is not a good thing.

Just imagine a 10 year old who is being sexually abused by her mother’s paedophile boyfriend and then being beaten by her mother when she calls for help, sitting alone in an unfurnished/uncarpeted bedroom with only a bed, trying not to succumb to the horror of the loss of her entire life and support system – everything and everyone she knows – whilst also dealing with the abuse. All without being able to utter a word about it.

That was me 42 years ago today.

Fast forward to that same 10 year old little girl now that she is 52, almost 53 who for the past 6 years (from today), has put her life on hold to care for this same mother, who was completely unavailable to her.

This 52, almost 53 year old little girl who went above and beyond to show that she was lovable, good and kind; who worked so hard, achieved all As, worked in notable jobs, created her own successful businesses, was written up in the press, published her own books…even brought the governments ‘guidance’ about introducing CV19+ patients into care homes to the attention of the public, appearing on the national news twice, placing stories in the national press and enlisting Piers Morgan’s help in confronting Matt Hancock about the policy…all to make her mother’s life better and to save it – who has now been rejected by the same mother yet again, unknowingly, perhaps.

I just posted this on social media, “It’s been getting more and more apparent over this horrendous year that because we have been unable to see Mum as frequently as we would normally (to put it mildly), her attachment to me has moved to her main carer who she sees all day every day. We just tried to Skype and Mum although smiley initially, is no longer particularly interested in connecting with us anymore. Those of you who have experience of a relative with dementia will probably understand this to some extent…but we were hoping for a few more years of emotional closeness, the loss of which has been accelerated due to government guidelines and mass incarceration. It will take me a while to come to terms with this situation – I think the word I am looking for is ‘grieve.’ It seems that although Mum is still physically with us, she has lost interest and has moved on from us… Sadly, not the first time in my life that she has done this.”

For it to have been cemented hypothetically on the exact same date as our reunion 6 years ago feels like the Universe is sending me a message.

As yet, I am unable to decode the message. I am too busy reeling with the loss of my mother, yet again.

Please do remember those memes that states – be kind, you never know what someone is going through – because it’s true.

It is also important to add that sometimes the people around you might behave in ways that seem alien to you, or they might say things that upset or offend you – namely me.

I don’t see or experience life in the way that you do. Our reference points are so far apart that even Elon Musk’s Hyper-Loop won’t be able to connect them.

Oftentimes, I hear people telling me their ‘news’ and I have to flip through a whole load of learned responses in order to give one that appears to be appropriate. Sometimes, it might not be. If I have done that to you – please accept my sincere apologies.

I am doing my best and when I know better, I will do better.

Surviving this life is taking all of the resources I have.

Right now, I have an anniversary to contemplate.

An anniversary that does not deserve a celebration, but purely a notation in the margin of my life to acknowledge its ugly existence.

© Toula Mavridou-Messer 2020. All rights reserved.

For more blog posts about this topic, start here:

Sir Cliff Richard, Piers Morgan & Me

Sir Cliff Richard, Piers Morgan & Me.

Sounds like a movie starring Jennifer Aniston.

If only it was.

Sir Cliff Richard, Piers Morgan and me, are a combination of thoughts I have had since the first airing of Piers Morgan’s interview with Sir Cliff to commemorate his 80th birthday.

The interview triggered a number of things for me and I immediately wanted to compose this blog post and get them all down in writing and out of my insides where they were sucking the life out of me.

I didn’t though because one of the main issues triggered for me was my c-PTSD, which has resulted in a few weeks of finding it hard to take a full deep breath, being ultra anxious, waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, uneasiness…

If you know, you know.

You see, watching Sir Cliff Richard and Piers Morgan had a number of personal elements attached for me. I wasn’t just watching a TV interview.

Firstly, although it is hard to believe that 20 years have passed by in a flash – and yet filled with more trauma than I care to think about – it was exactly 20 years ago that I interviewed Sir Cliff to commemorate his 60th birthday.

I was working for OK! Magazine and had been asked to produce a video ‘special’ edition of the magazine filled with exclusive coverage of Sir Cliff’s birthday celebrations.

The day before flying out to meet up with the cruise-liner in Monte Carlo that Sir Cliff, his friends and family were on, I was told that the person they had lined up to do the interview with him had dropped out and so I was to do it instead.



I had no prior experience of doing anything like this – interviewing a national treasure on camera, on a cruise for the UK’s most popular celebrity publication but wanted to do all I could to please and impress Richard Desmond for giving me the chance in the first place.

I didn’t worry about impressing my Mum – she wouldn’t be remotely interested anyway.

It went well and the results are on YouTube for the world to see.

Piers’ interview was also a trigger in that we had worked together way back when at The Sun, when I was only 16 or 17, and although not ‘friends’ in the truest sense, we have known each other for at least thirty-five years and when help was recently needed, Piers didn’t hesitate to step up, for which I could not be more grateful.

The final area of ‘triggerment’ was that part of the televised interview covered Sir Cliff talking about the incident when his home was searched by the police, due to an allegation of sexual abuse, which was later declared to be unfounded.

As I watched the interview unfold, I saw how upset and angry Sir Cliff became remembering the horror of what he went through – it looks like textbook PTSD to me but I am only a lifelong sufferer and not a diagnoser.

Of course, I have enormous sympathy for him. It was a total violation of him, his home, his life, his reputation – everything he had worked so hard for decades to build – soiled instantly and publicly.

I was horrified, like the majority, if not all of the audience watching, to see the images that were shown of his face covered in shingles and to hear him recall just how devastating to his mind and body – his health – the entire incident and its aftermath had been.

He was exonerated and free to continue his life.

He will never forget this experience – how could he, it happened.

He was also awarded a large sum of money as compensation, which he clearly was entitled to.

However, my issue (and it is not in any way aimed at Sir Cliff but at the way the world still continues to treat the abused like second-class citizens), is this:

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (15 years of actual abuse from the age of 5, even ongoing during the time I worked with Piers), I get nothing at all to compensate me or help me deal with the never-ending horror of what was inflicted upon me. Not even therapy.

If a single traumatic incident can affect an adult as much as Sir Cliff’s home being searched by the police affected him, just imagine what an entire childhood (15 years) of abandonment/sexual abuse/physical abuse and total lack of parenting can do to a person.

My abuse was also a total violation of me, my ‘space,’ my life and its effects will always be with me.

It stopped my childhood, right then and there.

It stopped any sense of being carefree, right then and there.

It took away my future and God knows how hard I have worked to achieve success and financial stability to keep myself safe.

It took that away right then and there.

The last time I actually worked was in 2015 when I left a job due to more abuse. This time workplace bullying. Again.

I just can’t do it anymore.

It was all a trauma: travelling on the tube to get to work – an excruciating ordeal if you have c-PTSD, to be trapped in a speeding tube underground, with strangers physically closer than many dates ever got to be. Walking into an office when I was already traumatised from the journey only to be surreptitiously ridiculed and undermined on a daily basis.

The final straw was when my senior, (let’s just remind ourselves here that I was a fully grown woman of almost 50 years of age who had just secured George Clooney and his wife Amal to attend a prestigious event – something this specific organisation had failed to do themselves, despite many attempts for over 20 years), went puce in the face and aggressively declared that the brand new ankle boots I was wearing (totally inoffensive black patent lace-up boots) were unsuitable to wear under a long black evening gown where they wouldn’t be seen, to an event.

We hadn’t been discussing my boots, we were discussing the fact that I had also managed to recruit one of the top art agents in the country to help with an art fundraiser that they had previously had to cancel due to lack of support. The agent was also bringing with them their invaluable art buyers list that they had built up over decades. An amazing feat, if I say so myself.

But nope, abusing me was the most pressing agenda.

So, you see that despite being incredibly good at my job and extremely personable and kind and somewhat amusing (I do have my moments!), an abuser’s only motivation is to abuse.

Abusers hone in on us.

We are not weak by any means. We have already survived more than most before we reached double digits. It’s just that our tolerance for f*ckwittery is limited and when that limit has been reached, our safety mechanisms all lock in to place, like Iron Man’s suit of armour and we are done.

The payoff for the abuser is that they did that. Whoop-de-doo. How’s that working out for ya?

I know how it has worked out for me.

Unlike Sir Cliff, I don’t have photos to show the world the physical toll the unrelenting stress has had on me – everything about me physically/mentally and emotionally IS a result of the abuse and the continuous and overwhelming lack of care or responsibility from everywhere. And it will be until the day I die, most likely sooner than God intended because most survivors of sexual abuse often have similar health issues that shorten our lives.

When I was interviewed by the IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse), they surprised and horrified me by stating at the end that I had been let down by so many people who should otherwise have helped me and stopped the abuse: teachers, GPs, Brown Owl, social services, the police….literally anyone in a position of authority throughout my life.

Thanks for letting me know that IICSA – the sinking of my stomach is just like the Titanic. Despite years having passed, it still hasn’t risen, knowing that other people DO have responsibility for helping us with this – they just don’t and that seems to be acceptable because nothing whatsoever has been done to change it.

I mean who is actually in charge of doing that? The same authorities?

My GP recently got jippy with me when discussing some health issues. I again requested help with my c-PTSD. I have been asking for support for years, practically every time I ever speak with my doctor. The ONLY help available is group therapy in a year or more followed by the actual therapy I need a year or more after that but ONLY if I go to the group therapy.

That’s right – a two+ year waiting list – after having to attend group therapy, or as I like to think of it: having a cervical smear test on the top deck of the No. 38 bus during rush hour.

I have c-PTSD. The last thing I want is to sit in a room with other traumatised people discussing our traumas. Erm…not sure why that’s so difficult to comprehend.

Mental Health this, that and the other. Don’t believe a word of it – there is NO help available therapy-wise or financially. Unless it’s just me they don’t want to help.

C-PTSD totally curtails my life and always has. From the outside looking in, I am sure that all those who know me (unless they know me extremely well and even then…) don’t have a clue what I am being weighed down by every moment of every day.

There is no remission from having your brain rewired and reformed in early childhood so that you feel different/think differently and behave differently; not only from everyone around you but most devastatingly of all, from how you would have otherwise been, if not for the new Frankenstein setting that’s been placed on your DNA.

Piers has always known that I was different. I bet he has absolutely no idea (unless he reads this) as to why, but I credit him with being aware enough to see it and mention it.

I do take umbrage with something he once said though and it is this. He said (and I paraphrase), that everyone is born with the same ability to achieve success in life, but the truth of that just isn’t true and I am a prime example.

Despite my childhood (there’s so much more than just the abuse that I had to contend with), I made inroads into a world that so many people would give anything to be a part of but did not have the strength to move, let alone carry, the baggage that was attached to me at birth without an appropriate support system, when it all got a bit too much. Which was/is often.

I tried but was defeated by my demons and those that work in the media.

Just look at how Sir Cliff’s life and health imploded when he suffered this one trauma in adulthood, even with the support of his family and friends, immense wealth and a brain developed well enough to be able to seek the help and assistance he needed to get through it…and he is clearly still suffering because of it.

What chance has a 5-year-old girl, in a foster home got?

So, going back to my thoughts as I watched Piers interview Sir Cliff and the feelings it invoked in me.

I felt traumatised by the discussion of sexual abuse.

I felt traumatised that there is nothing available to us mere mortals to provide a pivotal point at which a line can be drawn beneath the experiences we have had, to delineate them from before the horror, the horror and after the horror.

For us, horror permeates every second of our existence, because PTSD actively changes the way time is perceived. Everything that has happened is still happening. The brain has locked it in and it’s like a video that auto-plays continuously.

Some days, most days, something will trigger the volume to be turned up on that video. The rest of the time it just plays, along with all of the other videos in my brain, so that I am overwhelmed, exhausted, irritable and most of all anxious and panicked, despite me taking care to keep myself as safe as possible. I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my chair to be bombarded with triggers on a daily basis, oftentimes numerous times a day, even including watching an innocuous celebrity interview.

I am genuinely thrilled for Sir Cliff that appropriate steps were taken to alleviate the trauma he had been subjected to.

All I ask is this: when will it be my turn?

© Toula Mavridou-Messer 2020. All rights reserved.

For more blog posts about this topic, start here:

It Feels Like This, Eddie!


As I was driving home earlier, Sheila Fogerty and Eddie Mair on LBC were asking what it feels like to be adult survivors of sexual abuse including during childhood. This comes after the guilty verdict of Harvey Weinstein that was announced yesterday. Another day, another story of abuse – another trigger that is hard to avoid when you exist in this modern world where televisions, radios and newspapers are abundant.

Well, Sheila and Eddie – this is how it feels:

In many ways I feel worse now at the age of 52 than I did as a child. My fears are bigger and all encompassing. Rather than just being afraid of the step-monster, I am afraid of all monsters including the ones that might be under, on top of and in my bed, out in the street, next to me on the bus, across from me in an office. As a survivor, monsters are literally eveywhere.

My husband is a loving and gentle gentleman. The fear is still there because it is now embedded in every cell in my body and in every beat of my heart.

I dissociate. I didn’t know that that was what I was doing until one of my many therapists explained that’s what it was. How could I possibly know when I was a tiny girl that watching myself from the outside, doing every day things like crossing a road or walking down the street was not what everyone else did and was specifically only what I did and what I still do.

It’s exhausting to be hypervigilant; to be so aware and so suspicious of your surroundings every moment of every day – and night – that you can never relax. Not for a moment because you know that if and when you do – something is out there waiting to get you and for some of us, it does. Again and again.

At 52, I now know that my life has definitely not played out the way I hoped and dreamed. My freedom of choice was cruelly snatched away from me with my innocence. I was 5 when the abuse started. It went on for 15 years in my own home. There was no escape. The result of that abuse was that in order to keep myself as safe as was possible I avoided situations that I thought would exacerbate my ‘issues.’ Despite a genius IQ and ability, I effectively stopped ‘learning’ at the age of 16, when the girls’ school I went to became a mixed 6th Form.

Dreams of going to University and training for a career was not something that I felt I could safely pursue. I did not want to be around an abundance of hormonal, possibly drunk/ drugged frisky teenage boys for a further 3 or 4 years, for obvious reasons.

I am not remotely the woman I could have been without the ‘interference.’ My thoughts, actions and reactions to everyone and everything are all tainted by the abuse. I’m sure people think that I am odd.

At 52, I have also learned that no amount of ‘therapy’ – (we’ll get back to that as a subject shortly) – will change anything fundamentally. Everyone throws the word at you so that if you don’t have therapy, or you are still not quite ‘right,’ after years of it, you feel as though it is something that you are responsible for. You didn’t do it properly – otherwise you would be fine. It’s assumed to be the fix. It is not. Nothing is.

It was in my 30’s, when seeing an acupuncturist from Singapore (in Kentish Town), that my eyes were opened and the hope dashed from beneath me. The lady was lovely and fun. She was also wise and honest. As part of my assessment for treatment, I laughingly asked whether she could stick a ‘pin’ in me somewhere that would fix how I felt about my childhood trauma. She very kindly explained that nothing could ‘fix’ that; the horrors that I had endured, survived and carried with me were part of who I was, my make up. Nothing could take them away – as much as nothing can take away any of our formative experiences and memories.

“It happened,” she explained. Nothing anyone does can reverse that. I was like an amputee asking for acupuncture to regrow a limb that had been removed.

At the age of 52, Sheila and Eddie, as the adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have decades more of the abuse within me. I have severe chronic PTSD – a common occurrance for someone like me – which means that I don’t experience time in the same way that either of you, or the rest of the world do.

The trauma that happened at the age of 5, 6, 7 or 8 – perhaps at 9, 10, 11, or 12 – maybe at 13, 14, 15 or16 and even at 17, 18, 19 and 20 – is stuck in my brain (hence the PTSD) and is continually triggered, so that although now middle-aged, at any point on any day emotionally I can and do feel like I did at any of those ages, as I relive the terror and revulsion of what was happening to me by the simplest of triggers – a sound, a smell, a sight etc.

So, it didn’t just happen to me ‘back then,’ for 15 long years of my young life but has continued to happen to me every day since then.

You asked on your show, “what happened when you told someone of the abuse?”

This is what happened to me when, rather than me tell the person, they boldly asked me what was going on. I was 14. I hadn’t said a word to anyone (other than my foster brother, who was 4 years older than me, when I was 5 and the abuse had just started).

This woman – the mother of my friend at the time – in front of her daughter and her husband asked me the question a few minutes after I stepped into their car, as they picked me up from home. She said and I quote, “what’s going on in there?”

I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. I was completely unprepared and afraid of what catastrophe my answer would start. I needn’t have worried – I should have just run for my life. Despite asking me very personal questions about the abuse, encouraging me to let out my feelings and pushing me to cry and fall apart, she/ they took me back to that home and the horrors therein for the next 6 years, and did nothing at all to actually help me.

They were generous, extremely so at times, but having opened the Pandora’s box that I had kept so carefully shut, up until then, did nothing to keep me safe but very much dug deep into my brain every time I saw them – which at that time was very often – to bring it and all of my feelings up each and every time. This went on for years.

Looking back, now I am 52, I feel anger and hurt that there was absolutely no compassion at all for my situation – my circumstances were used, I now feel – as a way of manipulating me, like a puppet on a string as the woman’s project. No sane adult who knew that a child in their home, in their lives, in their arms was enduring such ongoing abuse and making me vulnerable and fragile by constantly encouraging me to talk about it could possibly think that taking me back to the abuse for the following years was a good idea. Surely, that’s even more abusive?

The daughter was younger than me but not by much and was extremely precocious and emotionally mature for her age, or so I thought. Again, looking back, it seems not so much. When going out I would try to hide myself by wearing shapeless or more masculine clothes (it was the 80s, so I was not alone in this), whilst my ‘friend’ would wear barely there tutus, stockings and crazy heels. She was by this point only 14 and would laugh at my clothing, referring to me being in a ‘kaftan.’ I also laughed at this time, not realising that the joke was on me. There was absolutely no understanding of why I dressed that way – and why I felt responsible for keeping her safe – especially when she was literally parading around like a paedophile’s wet dream.

Over the years, the pearls of wisdom from this ‘friend’ were that I should have children to take my mind off ‘it’ and wondering why when I was 16 I didn’t do anything to stop the abuse. As I sit here typing this, the feeling of sickness in my stomach remembering these conversations and total lack of understanding is almost making me gag with the hurt, disappointment and anger that I should have expressed then and there. BUT should doesn’t exist and I was still that same little abused girl being abused further by these people who up until recently I believed to be my saviours and the family I chose. How wrong could I have been?

So getting back to therapy, as I promised I would do earlier. It doesn’t really help in the long term – as explained by my conversation with the acupuncturist – but there are times when it can take the edge off making day to day survival more possible. If they get it right.

My therapy started in my 20s. The aforementioned woman who forced me to talk about the abuse – whilst it was still happening – bought me 5 sessions for my 21st birthday. The therapist was awful and told me that she felt sorry for my boyfriend of the time when I was trying to explain how I felt in the relationship…due to the 15 years of abuse I had suffered that had only just stopped a year earlier – only because I had removed myself.

The next therapy was even worse. 4 years of NHS psychotherapy with a woman who sat opposite me week in and week out whilst I relived every moment of horror in the hope that she would do something that would make it go away. She did not. It did not and years later when I self-diagnosed as having PTSD – I realised that I had spent 4 years being forced to relive and trigger every trauma over and over, that had ever happened to me…and that a supposedly trained professional had at no time considered or recognised that I had severe chronic PTSD and that the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone with PTSD, would be exactly what she was making me do on a weekly basis in that little room off the Portobello Road.

More therapists came and went. No help.

At the age of 34 I worked out that I had the symptoms of PTSD by chance after reading a couple of paragraphs about it. I then researched appropriate treatment for it and discovered EMDR. I went to my GP and requested that I be referred for the treatment and she told me to go and get myself officially diagnosed before she would send the letter. I did. I found the most qualified person I could – a forensic psychiatrist – who not only said that I definitely had c-PTSD but that she was astonished that I had survived what I had, as most people in similar circumstances committed suicide, or died through taking drugs or alcohol.

I had 12 sessions of EMDR and felt much better but was not ‘cured,’ as discussed above.

A few years later I asked to be referred again and waited a full year for 6 sessions that did nothing. The therapist agreed and said that she would try to get me more sessions. A year to the week later, I got a letter from her offering me one more session. I didn’t bother. Who would? Therapy is not for the fainthearted so why churn it all up for one session that would do nothing?

More therapy ensued over the years. No real help as the therapists and treatment were not up to the job.

In 2015, after the stepmonster passed away, my husband and I gave up our lives to care for my mother who has dementia and Alzheimer’s; a mother who never looked after me.

She is a massive trigger. We live in her home where ‘he’ lived; another massive trigger.

Life for the most part is unbearable and yet despite doing everything I can to remain alive and well, it is unspeakably hard. What happened to me in real time as a child, as a teenager and as a young woman, continues to happen to me daily via triggers and flashbacks and nightly through nightmares. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify the constant struggle.

I haven’t been able to work long stretches of time for most of my life and so I am not eligible for benefits. I am also not eligible for benefits that are not based on contributions – PIP, for example – as an untrained assessor decided that I was not anxious enough when interviewing me.

My levels of anxiety are off the scale (as assessed by trained psychiatrists). Children who are abused more often than not do not speak up or allow anyone to see the truth as a survival mechanism. We believe that we will be blamed for everything that has befallen us and that we will be responsible for what we imagine to be uncontrollable and horrendous consequences thereafter.

In November 2018, I saw my GP (in Camden) and explained that I could barely function because of my c-PTSD and I was referred for therapy. In Feb 2019, I was seen for a 2 hour assessment and it was confirmed again that I have c-PTSD, anxiety, depression, hypervigilance etc.

In July 2019, I was again assessed by the same local authority who confirmed the above…again and was told that in order to have EMDR – the therapy that eventually works – I would have to attend group therapy first (a year before the EMDR , which is a 2 year wait). Being so traumatised, the thought of being in a room with other traumatised people is akin to me having a communal cervical smear – out of the question for all of the abvious reasons. I was told that unless I agreed my name would be crossed off the wait list and it was.

We are barely scraping by – scraping being the operative word.

I am 52 and would love to know what it is like to be carefree and truly happy; not happy that ends somewhere in my solar plexus when I try to take in a deep breath.

I am exhausted by this life and yet I go on. From the outside you would have no idea of what I am carrying. I have achieved so much and because people are so ignorant of childhood sexual abuse, do not appear to be a victim based on how I look and how I carry myself. None of this was caused by me. It was inflicted upon me in the same way no one invites a burglar into their home, or a pigeon to crap on you from a great height.

This only skims the surface of what it is like to be an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It’s an utter and neverending hellish existance that we cannot escape.

On a day when minding my own business, the papers, TV screens and and radios everywhere currently have Harvey Weinstein’s ugly face/ name plastered across them; a man whose looks and energy are eerily similar to the ‘stepmonster,’ I hear the question, ‘what’s it like to be an adult childhood sexual abuse survivor,’ over and over again. I feel like there is nowhere safe to escape to.

It feels uncomfortably like what we have all suffered has oddly become a form of entertainment disguised as news – as nothing significant seems to have changed for us, despite the constant headlines, promises and chatter that has been going on for years, including from us answering that very question.

My question to you is: now that you have your answer, what are you going to do to help us? God knows we need people like you to highlight the absolute lack of support.

Click this link if you really want to know what it’s like to be a survivor:



World Mental Health Day – Woo Bloody Hoo!

Large Baby Toula pic


I have been toying with whether or not I should write this post. It’s been giving me a migraine. Day 4 of head pounding, eye watering, neck aching, shoulder popping stress.

The migraine is caused by the fact that for someone with ‘mental health issues’ aka responding appropriately to circumstances beyond my control/ choice – for all of the memes, news features, magazine articles and days dedicated to mental health issues, when it comes down to it – there still isn’t any help available. Or maybe I am on a blacklist? You tell me.

I am 51.

The first 20 years of my life were spent in a combination of unsettling and unsafe situations.

I was fostered for the first 10 years and then given to my mother – without my foster ‘family’ giving me a backward glance.

Even at the death bed of my foster mother some 12 years or so later, I was greeted on my way to the ward by a member of that family with the words, “Oh, I’d forgotten about you!”

Just imagine that for one moment – that your sibling had totally forgotten of your existence, when (through no choice of your own because you were only a tender 6 weeks of age at the time) you had been brought into the family and were attending the final moments of a mother you shared.

I was sexually abused for 15 years from the age of 5.

It’s hard for people to get their heads around this one and it seems to me that at the mere mention of ‘sexual’ abuse, the people I know get squirmish and somehow feel that I am tarnished and grubby, despite being only 60 months old when cornered by a 40 year old, hulking, hairy Cypriot man who should have been locked up.

Imagine this now: you have been out with friends after work and get the train back to where you live in Surrey. The station is deserted and the exit steps are 200 feet ahead of you. As you start walking towards them, you notice a man has also disembarked from the train and is lurking close behind you. You speed up. He speeds up. You slow down. He slows down. You leave the station and cross the road. The man is still only feet behind you and the road ahead is dark and silent. The only thing you can now hear are his footsteps and your heartbeat that is now deafening you. You are holding your breath and breathing too fast all at the same time. All of a sudden you feel this man’s hands around your shoulders as he grabs you from behind and attempts to assault you.

I suspect that you are now terrified, fearing for your life and/ or of being raped.

Now imagine that instead of that being a dark road by a train station, it’s your 5 year old self’s bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom – anywhere and everywhere – and you are living at that level of fear 24 hours a day – awake or asleep – and the assaults are constant.

Firstly, is there any reason at all that you can imagine why surviving that for 15 years, nay 51 years and counting (or even an hour) would not result in ‘mental health’ issues?

Secondly, would you imagine that once you bring these circumstances to the attention of your GP, the police and various other people who are in a position to help you, that the help would be forthcoming?

Let me share this little incident with you and then tell me how you would feel when the world is putting out the bunting for ‘World Mental Health Day’ and patting itself on the back when the reality, or MY reality is this:

Mum has dementia/ Alzheimer’s. She had been repetitively talking about wanting to swim in the ocean for years. You decide despite the knot (Cap’n Jack would be proud of) in your stomach, that you and your husband will take Mum away for a week to Greece (her homeland), so that she can have a holiday and we can all create happy memories (that at least James and I will be able to recall).

Mum’s a trigger for my c-PTSD.

The holiday was for the most part enjoyable and the photographs we were able to capture and put in a book for Mum to look at to illustrate the holiday that she will never actually remember, were stunning and full of smiles.

However, as every second passed I found it harder and harder to take in a breath as every cell in my body relived the utter terror and horror of years gone by.

I returned to London with a smile on my face but internally my ‘mental health’ was not good. Uh uh. It was definitely not good.

I went to a new GP and explained that my c-PTSD was really bad (btw – it’s ALWAYS really bad – you cannot ‘let go’ of your actual life, as so many unhelpful and unthinking people suggest) and was referred for therapy.

I also did something that I have never done before, I applied for PIP. I haven’t actually earned more than about £1,500 (not taking into account the costs of making that which will diminish that figure to nothing) per year, for about 4 years. My c-PTSD makes it really difficult to work amongst f*ckwits – and there are always some wherever you go.

It’s okay – I managed to write snippets for national publications and a regular gossip coloumn from the age of 15 (where I worked alongside Piers Morgan, albeit for a blip) whilst still being abused and beaten. I have managed to run a successful PR company (from the age of 19). I have managed to become a top celebrity booker/ producer. I have lived and worked in Hollywood. I have published books. I have become a Saatchi Art represented photographic artist of recognition and so on – all because I choose to protect my sanity by not working amongst people who will jeopardise my ‘mental health.’

BUT because I have learned how to project a persona that allows me to do these things (with many, many months when things get too overwhelming where I never leave the security of my four walls) everyone – including those who should know better – assume that everything is fine.

So, back to the story: I asked for therapy and during the following 9 months (that’s NINE months) I was subjected to 2 x TWO hour assessment sessions, which left me in a worse state than I started because I had to dredge everything up.

I was also required to attend an assessment with a PIP assessor.

The PIP assessor decided that I was absolutely fine. I did not (according to the assessor who barely spoke English and had no training in ‘mental health’ issues) seem ‘anxious.’ I am not sure what she expected my ‘anxiety’ to look like but that exact same me was diagnosed by both Consultant Psychiatrists as: suffering SEVERE c-PTSD, depression and anxiety.

No financial help for me then from the system that requires me to pay taxes etc. because a person who’s uneducated opinion is that I don’t need any help.

The educated opinion was – and I quote: “She clearly suffers from severe complex PTSD which impacts on almost every area of her life. Her predominant symptom is pervasive hyprarousal, so that she feels constantly on edge or openly fearful, to the extent that she spends most of her day indoors. She also describes flashbacks, triggered easily by a wide range of stimuli.” Yadayadayada.

At the end of the SECOND 2 hour assessment at the end of the NINTH month after I asked for help in dealing with my horrific symptoms, in literally the final three minutes, the Consultant Psychiatrist told me that in a further FOUR months I could join group therapy sessions, in order to then qualify for the treatment that I know will actually help me: EMDR. Those sessions would then be available to me in a FURTHER 12 MONTHS!

Of course, I refused. I refused angrily. Had I not been through enough that the educated professional who could see how traumatised I was thought that she would watch me bare my soul for 1 hour and 57 minutes, before telling me that I could ONLY get real help, if I agreed to sit in a room with a number of other traumatised people, a whole YEAR before any real help would be available to me.

The SAME educated professional who had already diagnosed this: “She clearly suffers from severe complex PTSD which impacts on almost every area of her life. Her predominant symptom is pervasive hyprarousal, so that she feels constantly on edge or openly fearful, to the extent that she spends most of her day indoors. She also describes flashbacks, triggered easily by a wide range of stimuli.”

The letter closes with – and this is where ‘World Mental Health Day’ really comes into its own: “I have no choice but to close her case.”

So, NINE months, FOUR hours of baring my vulnerable and traumatised soul, TWO acknowledgements that I have severe c-PTSD, anxiety and depression BUT NO HELP unless I am traumatised further and then wait a further YEAR.

C’mon guys – you must be having a laugh but none of us is finding it remotely funny.

This ‘WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY’ is what we sufferers are dealing with. Forget your flag waving, meme posting, patting yourself on the back PR offensive and just get down and dirty with the help that people need.

I am unable to earn real money because…well, you know why not if you have read everything above but I am not allowed financial help. My husband and I literally are living below the poverty line (way below, to be accurate) but who cares? No one, that’s who.

I feel like I have to earn my own money to pay to survive and to pay for appropriate therapy by selling my horrific story. I might as well dredge up all of the pain and get something in return for it.

In fact, if Piers Morgan or any other well known journalist (especially those who know me) wants to help me tell my story and get it published, do get in touch.

World Mental Health Day: it’s been giving me a migraine. Day 4 of head pounding, eye watering, neck aching, shoulder popping stress.








Who Will Help You?

Large Baby Toula pic

Who will help you?

Is it a question you have ever even asked yourself?

In that moment of utmost need, who will you turn to who you know for certain will make everything okay?

We have all been lead to believe that we are ‘safe’ in this country – that when something terrifying, horrifying, irrevocably life-changing happens that there is a safety net that we will gently fall into, (goodness knows, we have been paying into that nestegg all of our lives) and all of a sudden the cogs will start turning and everything will be fine once more.

The truth, as I have learned the hard way, is that there is no safety net and unless you have dedicated family and friends who will put aside their lives, even momentarily and be pro-active in coming to your rescue you are on your own.

When I was alone in my house listening to the screeching of the alarm and the sounds of glass and wood smashing as it was being destroyed, I called the police for help. It’s what we have been trained to do. They turned up some time later and did very little for me, after starting this very sorry encounter by asking me to venture out from the security of my locked bedroom into the main part of the house where the intruder(s) were intent on destruction, in order to open the front door for them.

There were perhaps half a dozen male officers and a beautiful German Shepherd police dog and because I (rather sensibly, I thought) refused to put myself into unknown danger, they remained huddled around my front door.  The intruder(s) meanwhile, upon hearing voices scarpered over the back fence and broke into my neighbour’s home instead.

I was rather hoping that upon dialling 999, I would be helped. It was not to be.

Then, one of the younger police officers who remained to take my statement asked me, “Who can we call for you?” and I was unable to give them the details of anyone at all who would come to my rescue.

I spent the rest of that night (and all of the following ones) alone in a property where half of the downstairs windows were now boarded up and the internal doors (fortunately locked before I went to bed) in splinters and buckled, where the intruder(s) had tried to break through with bricks and their feet. The police officer said he was worried about leaving me there on my own but he did anyway – because when it comes down to it, who will help you?

Around a year and a half ago, we went to our car only to discover that all four tyres had been slashed. Ours was not the only one – it seemed that at least 20 other cars had also been similarly attacked. In this kind of situation, who do you think will help you?

Well, it seems that the police who we stupidly assumed would appear did not. It was of no interest to them. When I spoke to them on the telephone, I expressed concern that someone with a very large knife was clearly roaming the neighbourhood and was not afraid to use it.

Weeks later began the first of the multiple knifings in London, on the very same street as our car attack, with three deaths in one night and still it goes on. In similar circumstances, who do you think will help you?

On a broader level, when you read of atrocities in the daily paper – the hundreds of victims of Jimmy Savile and other sexual abusers, for example – do you stop to ask yourself if that happened to you or a member of your family who will help you?

You probably don’t because somewhere inside you believe that if something like this ever happened in your family, the ‘authorities’ would help you; that you would be supported by trained professionals, the police would check in to make sure you were ‘okay,’ benefits would be provided if you were unable to work and counselling would be forthcoming to get you through it. You would be okay because there would be help.

The truth is that that scenario could not be further from the truth; or at least in my life.

I am really struggling, as most of you would be in the same circumstances – a ‘survivor’ of childhood sexual-physical-mental abuse, growing up in foster care and currently dealing with the day by day deterioration of my only parent – the parent who (because of my biological father’s irresponsibility) brought all of this upon me.

My situation is fraught 24/7 and has been this way for almost 5 years. The previous 46 were not much better. However, like you I keep holding on to hope that there is ‘help’ available, if only I should ask for it.

Nine months ago, I bit the bullet and frantically explained the situation to my GP, requesting trauma counselling as I was at breaking point. I also did something I never thought I would and applied for benefits.

This past week I had my second extended assessment by a pyschiatrist who found the same as the first and all the others that I have had over the years: I am suffering from complex PTSD, my levels of hyper-vigilance/ stress/ anxiety etc are at 100% and it is seriously affecting my ability to function.

The good news about this is that everyone is on the same page about me needing specailised trauma therapy – the bad news is that the only thing on offer in one of the richest boroughs, in one of the richest cities in the world is group therapy (no, thank you!) available in 4 months from now, with the actual therapy I require available at least  a year later – because they apparently have no money. That’s OVER 2 years from visiting my GP when I was at what I felt was my lowest point.

In the meantime, my application for benefits has been turned down twice because (despite providing psychiatrists and therapists reports, a police report, details from the Independent Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse and so on) I did not ‘appear’ anxious enough for the assessor at the assessment.

Of those of you who know me, how many of you even guessed I was suffering from C-PTSD before I told you? None of you.

How many of you would have known that I had grown up in the circumstances that I did? None of you.

Abused children learn not to stand out from the crowd, not to give the game away, to pretend that everything is ‘fine.’ We feel wholly responsible for the despicable treatment we are receiving and spend our every waking moment protecting ourselves from being found out.

The benefits ‘assessor’ was an Eastern European woman whose English was a second language. She did not fully understand my replies and was not trained in mental health, nor specifically in trauma. She reeled off a list of questions that had no bearing at all on my circumstances, which included things about hearing aids etc and so I was not awarded any ‘points’ in their system for being in need.

When you are down to your last £62 pounds in your bank account (which you actually owe to someone else along with many £100s more, but are making them wait as you need to survive) – and have been legitimately diagnosed with serious mental health conditions – who do you think will help you?

We are doing what we can – James is working all hours (and also looking after me and my mother – emotionally and practically, as required) and I am also doing my utmost to make money by selling prints on Etsy but selling about one a month (if I am lucky, despite everyone telling me how amazing my images are) is just not cutting it.

It is not enough, especially when in trying to keep our dream of moving back to the US, takes up every single spare penny (and many more that we don’t yet have). It’s the only thing keeping me going.

I am not feeling sorry for myself, rather I am astounded at the way we all walk around in this life believing that if and when we really need help, it will be there. Sadly we are not living in The Waltons and it appears that there is very little help on offer. Even when you cry out for it.

So, perhaps whilst things are going well for you, have a little think about this: who will help you if the worst thing happens? Not in the immediate aftermath perhaps, but down the line when the help you possibly were receiving has moved on but your pain, anxiety, trauma, health and so on have not.

No, really – who will help you? And where will you turn when everyone lets you down?

P.S. The above account is not even a fraction of the acknowledged nightmare we are in the midst of daily but it gives an idea that regardless of how bad your circumstances, it appears that you are in it on your own. If anyone knows how ready help can be accessed, I would be very grateful to know.


What Would Jesus Do?

Large Baby Toula pic

I am an only child.

The family responsibilities stop here – at my door.

I have a beautiful, crazy mother. She has dementia.

I am an only child. It is MY responsibility to take care of her.

It has always been MY responsibility to take care of her.

It was MY responsibility to check on her in the middle of the night when I could hear her fighting an attacker off. I stood in the doorway whilst her husband tried to rape her. I was 10 years old and fought with him to cease the assault.

It was MY responsibility to save her from attack when her husband was smashing a foot long pair of scissors through the bathroom door, whilst she took an overdose on the other side – her way of dealing with the situation. I was 10 years old and stood between him and the door as he played out a scene from The Shining.

It was MY responsibility to beg her husband to stay when Mum had discovered his cheating and lies. I was 10 years old and I stood on the doorstep between them whilst they screamed abuse at each other over my head.

I am an only child and it is still MY responsibility to take care of my mother now that she has dementia. She knows who I am but not what she has done; nor what I have done for her or at what cost I continue to do for her.

I am an only child and is is still MY responsibility to take care of my mother despite her putting me in foster care at 6 weeks of age until I was 10 years old.

I am an only child in a family without other immediate relatives. The responsibility is on my shoulders, like an iron yoke getting heavier and heavier; making it harder and harder for me to drag myself through this life as the pain wears me down to nothing.

I am an only child whose responsibility it has always been to ensure my mother’s happiness, to maintain a stable mood, to ask for nothing, to plaster a smile on my face and be a ‘good girl.’

I used to get beaten for speaking up. I used to get locked out for having fun.  I used to be shouted at so aggressively that I would rather have been beaten. I used to bang my head hard against a brick wall to numb the screaming inside. I used to do my homework and revision on the bus to school and achieve top marks. It was MY responsibility to maintain a perfect front.

I used to make it ‘okay’ for her when her husband molested me, daily, hourly. Always.

Now I have a beautiful crazy mother who has dementia and I don’t know what to do. It is MY responsibility to make sure that she is okay; that her needs are being met.

If I don’t, the guilt will suffocate me.

If I do, the c-PTSD will kill me.

Mum is a trigger.

I am literally damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

The consequences of my decision are not the same as those you will suffer. Those with a loving and stable background can safely take steps apart. They don’t fear being swallowed whole by an emotional blackhole.

You haven’t spent your entire life – every waking moment praying for a family. For safety; physical and emotional. For understanding. For peace. For an end to the grotesque guilt that plagues every breath you inhale and exhale. The constant gnawing of impending doom that hovers like a toxic cloud around your head and gets breathed deep into your heart, mushrooming and enlarging when a letter drops on to the mat, an email pings into your mailbox or a ‘phone rings. Something more to deal with. However small. However run-of-the-mill.

I have all the responsibilities and no reserves left. I am hovering on the edge of rationality and there is nowhere to turn.

There is no useful help from the NHS to battle the demons.

I am not entitled to financial assistance to keep our heads above water.

No one is taking responsibility for my being failed every step of the way by those who have been empowered and salaried to safeguard me. They have physically and metaphorically shrugged their shoulders and left me to just get on with it.

So many headlines, press releases, statements, announcements, Royal visits, charities, memes, hashtags and so on declaring all of the help that is available. To whom? Who exactly is being helped and how?

Encouragement to speak up, to speak out…and for what? Nothing changes. Talking (which seems to be the cornerstone of the ‘help’ that is available) is possibly one of the single worst things that anyone with PTSD can do.

My prayers have never been answered fully because when you have suffered the way I have suffered, your DNA is changed. The ingredients that went into making me who I am have been baked fast and are set within and those sickening emotions just get more and more stale with every new attack on my security; on my sanity.

Yes, I look normal from the outside. It’s an Oscar-winning performance that I will never be nominated for, let alone acknowledged.

I am suffering in a way that there are no adjectives for nor a guaranteed remedy and despite me explaining clearly to those who need to hear, it’s almost like an open invitation to exert more horror on me.

I am an only child who is yet to have a childhood.


For other blog posts in the series, please click here: 






Let Her Eat Cake

You know that that feeling when you know but you are not sure that the other person knows what you know? That.

Whilst the world around me is being blown up, people are being run down and stabbed by terrorists and everyone is crazily trying to convince everyone else about how to vote in the election, I have been visiting a trauma specialist in the hope that I can undo some of the personal horror that has been inflicted on me.

Two weeks ago whilst having the first actual session of EMDR (rather than just talking talking talking), the session ended with me telling my counsellor through an abundance of tears and shock that I had just realised at almost 50 years of age that I know exactly why I didn’t tell my Mother that her husband had just sexually abused me for the first time when I was 5. It was because I already knew that I was ‘the mother.’

The shock of realising that and then saying it out loud for the first time was palpable in the room.

Of course, it wasn’t necessarily true, it was just how I felt but the revelation has stayed with me sitting heavily and shockingly in my chest, making it hard to breathe in without feeling like I had betrayed my mother by revealing too much. It has also had me on the edge of a tsunami of tears.

I haven’t given in. Much.

In the meantime, I have been worrying about my Mother’s care, or lack thereof, from the health unprofessionals in her care home. On their watch they have allowed her to become significantly overweight and pre-diabetic despite taking blood and weighing her at least once a month.

That’s bad enough but when the private doctor we took Mum to (after the care home manager/ owner suggested we took Mum privately if we didn’t like the GP she was paying for an ‘enhanced’ service) called to inform her of her findings and ask her to put Mum on a diabetic meal plan, she refused point blank.

I saw black.

She says that my Mother despite being in the care home because she has dementia says that she wants cake and sugar all day and therefore should have it.

Yes, that’s right. My Mother who cannot retain the knowledge that she is pre-diabetic is being asked if she wants to eat cake and of course she is saying yes.

The same care home manager/ owner also point blank refused to allow my Mother to see a GP sooner than the regular Wednesday when he visits.

We called to inform the home that Mum was complaining of chest pains – she also had a cough – and as two residents had had chest infections weeks earlier (one died and one was hospitalised), we thought Mum probably had the same.

The manager/ owner said that she would ONLY allow Mum to see the GP sooner if Mum personally came and told her that she had chest pains.

Yes, that’s right.

Of course, we jumped in the car and took Mum to A&E immediately.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that we are now looking for a new care home for Mum. She has been given notice by the manager/ owner who clearly doesn’t want to clear up the mess she has made. As if sweeping the crumbs under the carpet is going to make them magically disappear without any thought for my poor Mum, who is settled there and has made friends over the 30 months she has been resident.

Fortunately, we had already contacted the CQC and social services who are on it. Fortunately they are on it because the manager/ owner contacted them after refusing Mum a GP, to complain about us. How dare we try to impose a healthy diet on Mum when Mum says she wants cake and sugar?

Oh, how we laughed. Not.

The social worker visited Mum to assess her capacity and decided (obviously) that Mum does not have the capacity to make the decision because she cannot remember the health implications of her choices. When reminded, Mum is horrified to learn that the care home have been giving her cake and sugar when they know it is making her ill.

Obviously. You’d have to be really demented not to be horrified.

It took a week for the social worker to call me and let me know her findings. I had been waiting with baited breath wondering whether the care home manager/ owner would be vindicated or we would be villified.

“Your Mother understands everything fully but cannot retain the information. Therefore I have found her not to have capacity in this instance. She said that she totally trusts your judgment and that you are allowed to speak on her behalf. She says you are her Mother-Daughter.”

I knew it.

Being right doesn’t always feel good. Knowing from your earliest consciousness, before even being old enough to go to school, that you are the only responsible adult in the house is the heaviest burden to bear.

Never ever knowing security in it’s most basic form – that of being a care-free child in a home where you are certain that your safety and all of your worries are being held by your parent – is not something you grow out of. It’s something you grow into. The more life happens, the more you sink into the quicksand of terror, seeing all obstacles and issues through the eyes and emotions of a child. A child who had to think on her feet and deal with adulting whilst only a baby herself.

Just look at any pre-schooler that you know and wonder how they would cope.

It’s no picnic. Not all of us can have our cake and eat it.

I am my Mother’s-Daughter-Mother.


To read other posts in this series, please see:








Child Abuse – The Invisible Sin


Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, my debut novel, is all about child abuse and the secrets we as observers, witnesses, if you will, to crimes and horror within our own communities, sometimes within our own families, keep in order not to upset the equilibrium. Oddly enough, these fundamental aspects of the book are not something I have ever flagged, rather describing the story as true crime meets Grimm fairytale, which is also true.

I have said that the true crimes that inspired my story included elements of those carried out by Rosemary West and Amelia Dyer (the Victorian baby-farmer) but I have never really talked about the nitty gritty aspects of what that means in terms of the story.

At the very beginning of my horror story, a fire rages through Phooka Wood and leaves in its wake a giant fossilised piece of toffee that clearly has human remains embedded within it. The mystery that then unfolds is a no-holds barred journey through Mortal End (life), where the magnifying glass is held over society in general. What is clearly illustrated is that under our very noses children (and adults, too) are being abused in all sorts of heinous ways and oftentimes those closest to that abominable action are not blinded to it but are the actual perpetrators of that misconduct.

I suspect we are all guilty of ignoring the public actions of others that may strike a nerve, when perhaps we see a parent continuously ignore a child as they chat away on their mobile ‘phones and then harshly admonish that child who is about to step into the path of a car, or the parent is aggressive towards them because they whine for attention because no one is minding them.

Worse still, perhaps we see a child being struck, or touched inappropriately and instead of stepping forward to challenge the culprit, we tell ourselves that we must be mistaken and that what we saw was something altogether more innocent. We then walk away, possibly still questioning what we saw, but walk away nevertheless.

The fact is that all around us, even including in some homes of those we know, things that ought not to be happening are and nothing is being done to stop it.

In Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, a young girl child is abused by all of her male siblings and her parents, too. This sweet innocent child soon realises that in order to survive, her sweet and innocent ways will have to change and almost overnight she not only becomes unrecognisable as the child we first met, but she outdoes the horror that was once inflicted upon her and wreaks bloody revenge upon those who have wronged her.

The evident change is enormous and the consequences more so and extremely visible to all and sundry and yet no one sees. As no one sees, no one does anything to curtail this awful behaviour and the sweet and innocent child grows up to be a vicious and crazy psychopath; a bedlamite who then has children of her own who suffer even worse atrocities at the hands of their mother, who by this point knows no bounds.

Why do we hesitate, stop ourselves from saying or acting when we see maltreatment? Perhaps we are afraid of the abuser, or we are not entirely sure that we have read the situation correctly. Personally, I am afraid of not being heard and suffering the consequences of inaction but still….I have spoken up, regardless and hope that I always will.

I once called the NSPCC about a two year old little boy that was obviously being mistreated. His parents were of limited intelligence and they clearly did not have the wherewithal to bring up this beautiful child. He was screamed at and beaten (that you could clearly hear) and was terrified of the two adults within whose care he was left.

I was told by a neighbour (the one I was visiting) that they were all aware that his mother would fill the little one’s mouth with burning chilli peppers to shut him up and that they caused blisters and more screaming. Obviously. And on it went. I couldn’t bear what I saw and heard and when I returned home took a very deep breath and made the call that I hoped would change this angel’s life. I was extremely nervous and emotional but tried to be clear, concise and objective. The person taking my call was clearly uninterested and from what I heard, no one intervened or even investigated further and the abuse went on and on.

I often wonder what kind of a man that poor child grew into; who he was taught to be by his familial violators and those around him who did nothing to stop the violation.

Every day for the past few years, headlines have astounded us with their constant revelations of those in the public eye being questioned, arrested and tried for child sexual abuse. Some have been found guilty and imprisoned and still, rather than everyone be truly horrified by the crimes that took place, many people seem to be affronted by the fact that time has passed and that these offenders have been brought to book by adults who didn’t speak out as children, deciding that they can only be speaking up now for the financial compensation. Not once questioning why those who were grown and able at the time to step up, did not.

Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery is written in a gothic horror style and has many dark comedy moments to enable readers to digest the moments of pure wickedness that is carried out and to question whether the maniac be held responsible for her actions, or whether she herself is a victim, too?

Is evil born or created and moreover, what part do the rest of us play in watching the embers of nefariousness smoulder and the flames of wrongdoing eventually take hold?