With the permission of some of our clients, below are a few testimonials reflecting on what the process of recovery was like for them.
Lost and Found
For most people, the word rape conjures up one image, a forced sexual act. So, many may consider me lucky because I managed to prevent it, but that’s not how I see it. That night for the first time ever, I experienced what real fear was. His actions penetrated my mind, heart, body and soul. Physically, mentally and emotionally I was raped. A huge part of me had died and the rest wanted to follow as the seeds of suicide took immediate hold. My world fell apart. Unable to sleep, I felt like the ‘walking dead’. Forgetfulness became the norm as I forgot simple things like eating. Yet, I could not forget every second of that night as it played over and over in my head. I was lost.
Contacting the Galway Rape Crisis Centre (GRCC) the first time I was terrified. My biggest fear was that they would not understand just how raped I felt. I knew the words but could not speak them. Me and my feelings were aliens living in the same body, aware of each other but unable to connect. I wanted my counsellor to fix me, to wave a magic wand and bring back the ‘old’ me who laughed at anything, had a great sense of humour and always saw light at the end of any tunnel.
Trusting no-one, sometimes not even myself, I could not trust her. I wanted to protect her from my tears, frustration and impatience at the hold that night still had on me. She, on the other hand, had the patience of Job simply because she understood a lot more about how I felt than I could even begin to imagine back then. I hated myself so much. He had raped me of so many things. Most of all he had raped me of ‘me’. There was no ‘me’ and without me, there was no reason to live.
Yet every week I turned up for counselling. It was my only hope. The fact that she let me go at my own pace, only talking about what I was comfortable talking about, is what made me gradually trust her. What I needed most was to be heard. Some people listen but never hear. Some do not know what to say. Others, with the best will in the world, say the wrong things. She, on the other hand, knew how to hear and listen, and I knew it. Sometimes she said nothing at all which frustrated me initially, but over time I realised the benefit of that too. It allowed me to be with me. There is something very powerful in someone bearing witness to something that doesn’t need words.
The first time I knew she was really there for me was when the court happened. I’d only had four or five counselling sessions with her by then. When I said it’s going ahead, without batting an eyelid, she replied ‘tell me where and when and I’ll be there’. Just having her there made such a difference. It was much easier to talk to her than my own family as I wanted to protect them even more than her from my true feelings.
It takes a special person to carry someone through the after-effects of any sexual crime, let alone anything else such as reporting it or going to court. A phrase often used by many is that ‘you’ll get over it in time’. I think that phrase needs to be re-written to- ‘you’ll get over it with the right people helping you’. My counsellor walked every step of the way with me, not behind me or ahead of me, but with me. Ok I did the work, turned up every session but I couldn’t have done it on my own. She listened to me with open ears, heard me without judgement, and accepted my pain at a time when no-one else could, myself included. She let me find me again.
Without her I would not have made it. The simple words – THANK YOU- therefore, are wholly inadequate as a measure of how much of a difference she made in me finding a newer, stronger self who will never forget that one night, but who can now say it no longer rules my world. Yet they are the only words I have. So once again, THANK YOU for giving me back me, and my life.
They didn’t believe
Early evening, the trees were covered with yellow leaves.
Wide boulevard.Tram tracks.Old red tram that goes to city centre.
I was walking towards the forest to smell the yellow leaves.
The white van stopped in front of me.
Three men don’t smile.Fear was overwhelming.
I was blindfolded.
I never approved dictatorship.
Theres no need to be afraid.You are an easy target.
Birds don’t chirp in the van.
My heart is racing, I cant feel my legs.
I never approved genocide.
I never wanted to go to wars.
We will teach you a lesson.
Empty room with red bricks.
Old wooden chair.
Bucket of water.
They ripped of my clothes.It was cold.I couldn’t stop shaking.
Smell of the beer.Laughter.
Every single part of my body was in shock.
It hurts…..as far as I can remember I colapsed.
I didn’t say to anyone what happened that day.
I couldn’t eat or sleep a good while.
My whole life was a nightmare.
I didn’t smell the yellow leaves.
In patriarchal societies men don’t cry, they never feel ashamed.
I fled my country in 2005 and reached Ireland seeking political asylum.
At the oral hearing at the Refugee Apeals Tribunal they questioned my whole story.
It was said that I suffer from subjective not objective fear.
I started counselling at GRCC in 2007.
For the first time after the rape I was able to share what I experienced that day.
An incident, burried in my subconscious mind was revealed.
It’s a long personal journey of recovery but I know that there is someone I trust, someone I can talk to.
Every Tuesday I am looking forward to the session with my counsellor.
I find it very supportive.Its a brilliant service.
Thank you so much.Your help is highly appreciated.
The fear that I am going to be sent home is always present.
Hope in My Life
I am a survivor of sexual abuse with the loving support of the Rape Crisis Centre. I have begun to live a happy life and I have come to accept myself a lot more. I was brought up in a very dysfunctional home and I was sexually abused by my older brother for roughly about three or four years, my mind is still fuzzy as to how long it actually happened for. It became normal. I thought it was normal after a while and it just became something I had to do. My whole life began to be affected. It really began when I was 16, I remember going to the doctor and saying how down I felt. I was so depressed and insecure. I hated who I was, I hated every inch of me and I always felt less than… I started to use drugs at that time and alcohol, I quickly learned to escape. I eventually, after a couple of years, went for the first time to the G.R.C.C. It did help talking to someone but part of me still wasn’t ready as I was really in my addiction. It wasn’t until I went back to the G.R.C.C. when I put down my addiction did I get the real benefits from the service. I reported my brother to the Gardai and he was brought to court and found guilty. The G.R.C.C. provided me with a victim impact statement which was of great help to me.
I have received great support from this service and continue to receive. I have a passion for singing but I never thought I was good enough. I got great encouragement from my counsellor and I’m now taking singing lessons and I’m hoping to start a band. My future seems bright for the first time and I didn’t do it on my own, I got great support and continue to get it. Some days I feel a lot of grief and sadness but of that I grow into the person I want to be, free and happy. I have great hope in my life.
Everything in life comes for a reason
“I am a young lady from Africa, I have been in Ireland since 2005 to escape the threat and torture that I underwent in my country because my husband was accused of co-operating with the rebels and smuggling weapons, something that was not true. I went through so much in that time, I have been abused, my arms tied then pushed to the floor and raped in front of my children. My husband was arrested, he was repeatedly physically abused, he had a broken leg and foot when he was taken to custody, I never had news from him and just pray that he still alive, my children went to an orphanage but are still in danger. I hope one day life will be good to me to be reunited with my family. I can only share this little for fear to be identified.
I have been attending the Galway Rape Crisis Center for over three years now to have counselling. I had individual and group therapy. I had depression, sleep disturbance, anxiety and other problems. It was harder than I can explain, to live in a hostel with strangers, in a foreign land without any English not having news about my family, I almost committed suicide. But by having counselling sessions in the GRCC, I learnt a lot of things that were almost impossible to believe and to do. I still have emotional breakdowns, sleepless nights and other problems that are personal. But in the bottom of my heart I thank the GRCC for the person I am today, I learnt to take each days at it comes, to stay positive, to love myself. I know I have a long way to go but I am able to day to speak and write English, a big achievement.
Everything comes in life for a reason ,,,,I know soon I will see my family,,,,,I know GOD loves me and will always help me with the strength to achieve more than what I have to day.
I’ m so grateful to the authority of Ireland for granting me the leave to remain in the State,,thank you so much.
If my story can help even one person out there to keep the faith then I will be the happiest woman in the world. Galway Rape Crisis Center GOD bless you,,,,you are the one who understand and believe in us when nobody did,,,,,,, ”