September 11, 2002
For "S"

I got back from holiday on Monday and made some calls to catch up with what had been happening in my abscence. I was eager to see if things had moved on whilst I was away and whether we had recieved confirmation of funding or secured our new premises in Dublin. One call however did not bring good news. Last week "S", a woman who called me following the broadcast of "Suing the Pope", who had struggled on and coped for 30 years dealing with the abuse she experienced from the age of five finally found herself unable to keep going. She ended her life...

Every day at One In Four we hear just how desperate people can be to end the pain that they live with day in day out following childhood sexual abuse. Most people at some time contemplate suicide as one way to break free, I know I did. Thankfully most of us are able to somehow get through this and find other ways forward. Its not always the case though...we don't all "survive" whatever that means. "S" didn't. She couldn't keep going, not because she was weak or becuase she was flawed but because she couldn't, it wasn't possible anymore. She wasn't cowardly or selfish, she just couldn't cope anymore, survival wasn't enough.

Now shes gone. I hope she has found peace and I hope that those she has left behind find a way to deal with their own pain now. For me, I needed to mark her passing. She mattered and she should not be allowed to slip away unnoticed or uncared for. I'm not sure how I feel now, a real sense of loss and hurt for "S" and for all of us who ultimately don't survive. A sense of anger that it had to come to this and an ever deeper resolve to fight on and work together to ensure evry one who has been abused is given the support and care that they deserve by right. One thing is sure: I have yet another answer to those who ask why we don't "forget about all of it, it happened a long time ago". Not for "S" it didn't, for her it was there every day to be battled with and fought through until she couldn't anymore. Childhood trauma and abuse can never just go away, it is possible to be free. It is possible to break free and be more than just what they did to us, but we can't do it alone. No-one can.

Posted by Colm at September 11, 2002 04:45 PM

I am so sorry to read about "S". As recently as this morning I was also thinking about suicide. I look on suicide sometimes as the light at the end of my tunnel. If the pain gets too bad it is there as a way out. I don't know what stops me. At the moment I feel particularly bad despite the fact that it is over 40 years since I was abused. It just never goes away. I think the recent murders in Soham hooked into something in me as I have had nightmares about what he did to those two little girls, and how frightened they must have been. I have been for counselling in the past and perhaps need to go there again. I can identify with how "S" must have been feeling and am so sorry that she felt she had no choice but to kill herself. Thanks Colm for letting us know about her. I will keep her in my thoughts.

Posted by: Liz Smith on September 12, 2002 06:51 PM

Hi Liz
I can really understand what you mean when you say that you often view suicide as "the light at the end of your tunnel". Often if we cannot imagine that there can be an end to our pain then the only way out can seem to be ending our existence, we often feel that all we are is the pain, the trauma, the abuse. I understand that and I too felt it. But I know more now, I know that we are more then what they did to us, I know that we are not the abuse, not the pain, not the trauma and I know that there is a way through and beyond what was done to us. A way back to ourselves and to freedom. I don't mean that we can ever fix it, we can't. But we can find ourselves first in and then beyond the experience of abuse.
I believe that if "S" had received the help and support she needed then she would still be with us. I don't know that to be true but I do feel it and believe it.
I hope that this same belief or hope is what stops you Liz. Please know that life can be good, that you are more than what they did to you and that you can be free. Keep faith with the spirit in you that has helped you to survive so far and lets work to ensure that you can do more than survive...that you break through this well of pain and on fully back to you. You can do it, we are here for you, we are here for each other.

Stay safe and take care


Posted by: Colm on September 12, 2002 11:54 PM
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