Diary

This Is Me At 14

The old days027

In the photo I am 14 years old, three years in to my five year sentence of being sexually abused in the school room by a boy in my class (yes teachers and class mates knew). I count myself lucky to not have been raped, I don’t know how those women and men get themselves through that ( A girl I used to work with was raped and so was my cousin)..

I know I have an odd view of sexual assault after all I was only eleven when it started and I assumed that since no one seemed to think it was wrong there must be something wrong with me. This thought has always stayed with me so much so I have never told a doctor or councilor I was sexually bullied therefore I have never received treatment for it.

On the scale of things the sexual assault I received wasn’t particularly serious (though I realise now that this still doesn’t make it right) I found the worst part to get over was the fact that loads of people knew but didn’t do anything and because it lasted for so many years.

It’s only in recent years (I am now in my 30’s) that it ever occurred to me that what the boy did was wrong that actually it might not have been my fault. This conclusion came to me slowly because of people being brave enough to come out in the media and say they have been abused, some more seriously than others.

As much as I appreciate peoples bravery it is also hard as it takes me back to the worst time of my life so far and makes me sad for the childhood I was robbed of. Leaving school and not being assaulted anymore doesn’t mean the end of it either. I may have been in a normal relationship with a man since I was 20 and have had a couple of boyfriends before that to but I still have to deal with the consequences.

Firstly I may not be thinking about what happened to me at school most of the time but it pops up at really annoying times for instance a routine stop and search at work by two male security guards upset me (they did nothing wrong may I add)  they never touched me but I was in a room on my own with them, I felt trapped and convinced they would hurt me.

Another time there was a male customer in the shop I was working in who was groping women, I almost had a complete melt down and had to go off the shop floor.

The now man who assaulted me still lives in the same town and I bump into him every so often, these days I notice him but feel no fear or embarrassment which is why the incidents I have just related are so weird.

I even spoke to him while I was writing the below book, Behind The Silence. I changed all our names (for some reason I felt the need to protect him and the other useless people of my childhood) but told him I would be writing it. His response wasn’t denial and he said I could write and publish it as well as “I am sorry you felt that I bullied you, I know you know I am not like that now”. I have barely seen him for 14 years. When I mentioned the touching he said “yea I did that to quite a few girls at school” on the one hand I was like I must be weird because none of the other girls were this effected by it and the second I was angry that others had to go through that to.

I asked him if he wanted to read any of it but he said no as it would be too upsetting for him! Anyway last time I heard about him (for some reason everyone I went to school with feels the need to tell me about him)  he was engaged (poor girl).

The reason people like him and Kevin Spacey don’t really remember the incidents that hurt other people so much is because they don’t think they are doing wrong, they will never not do it as their empathy levels are pretty much zero. The only way they may ever consider what they did as a crime or stop is if it ever happens to them, which bizarrely, I wouldn’t wish on them.

 

I will probably struggle with the consequences of sexual assault my entire life but I refuse to blame all of men, I refuse to not have a loving and normal relationship and most of all I refuse to let him and those that did nothing win.

So I watch the news and sit through endless stories about perverts and I have the odd random panic attack where old me is reminded of a scary and unhappy time but I am married, I am alive and I am living.

The old days006

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Diary

Diary 07/11/2017

Image result for poppies at the tower

In 2014, 100 years after The First World War started 888,246 individual ceramic poppies were installed at the Tower of London. Each poppy representing one British and colonial life lost during the war that was supposed to end all wars.

Fast forward a few months and I finally got around to researching my family tree. I decided to start with my dad’s side of the family for several reasons. The first reason for this was the fact that my dad grew up in the same house with his Granddad who was like a dad to my dad (he also lived until he was 99!). This meant that my dad knew a lot of information about him that could start me off on my search. The second was the fact that my Great Granddad had (what I thought at the time anyway) the unusual surname of Strudwick.

Knowing my Granddads full name and birth date I just typed it into Google, it is amazing what you can find. Up popped a site that takes pictures of grave stones (yes really) and they happened to have taken pictures in a graveyard that I knew my Great Granddad was buried in, in fact a photo of my Great Granddads grave that also turned out to house his wife and daughter (my Grandma’s sister).

My Great Grandma died of cancer before my dad was born, other than this my dad knew nothing about her and her side of the family, queue me! She was born in 1882, married my Great Granddad in 1906 and died in 1938.

This information led me to accidently solve a small family mystery. The mystery of the medals my dad had been given as a boy by an Aunt Rose. Except he doesn’t know who this Aunt Rose was, who the medals belong to or what they were awarded for although he suspected they had something to do with the First World War. Unfortunately the fact of the medals being in existence wasn’t something I was aware of at this time and my dad had temporarily forgotten about them.

In researching my Great Grandma I found she had plenty of brothers and sisters including a younger sister called Rose who had never married and had no children. I also found they had a brother called George Mallinson and in researching him I got a bit of a shock.

George Mallinson was born in 1887 in Hackbridge, Surrey. He died aged 28 on the 08/04/1918 from his wounds in Flanders France.

This information prompted my dad to remember the medals after a little rummaging and emptying of various drawers he found them and the name and dates matched, I had solved our little family mystery. I didn’t just find the above out though, after all the internet is an amazing thing……..

He used to be a plumber before enlisting in 1914 in Woolwich with the Alexandria Princess of Wales own regiment (Yorkshire). He was in the 12th Battalion, Unit Green Howards. I also know his number and rank and I know his body is in Mont Huan Military cemetery, Le Treport which was a military hospital that he was transported to and where he died.

He has been lying there for almost 100 years and we didn’t know. This thought makes me sad. The whole family have stood respectfully through two minutes silences every year, we wear poppies and we all read about the installation at the Tower but not one of us knew that one of our own was lying in a field forgotten about, that one of those red poppies were representing his sacrifice.

In our defence my Grandma wasn’t born until 1923 so never knew him; she was only 15 when her own mother died (George’s sister) who must of been ill for quite some time before that. He left no wife and no children just some medals that his Great Nephew thought to hang on to and a really nosey Great, Great Niece that happens to love history and poking around!

The moment I told my dad all the above information was a poignant one and I can assure you that we won’t be forgetting him again and if I am ever lucky enough to have my own children they will be told that they had a Great, Great, Great Uncle that fought and died for mine and their freedom.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.