The following is a letter to the editor that was published in the Orangeville Banner in December 2014.  This letter was in response to an open letter to the community written and released by Family Transition Place, entitled, “Help is available for abused victims.”
I would like to echo the comments and advice written by the Family Transition Place regarding sexual abuse. I was sexually and physically abused for several years. It has been almost 50 years. I am now 63 years old and the things that I went through still haunt me today. I think the older I get the more emotional I have become about it.  I was able to file the events away in the back of my mind for several years. My wife and friends always knew I was troubled by something. I was hospitalized twice in my 30s. I  had a great job but could not cope many times, and did not reveal the sexual abuse until my forties. As the article mentioned I was embarrassed. I would blame myself and the feeling of worthlessness was overwhelming. I can still feel the man’s hands around my throat choking the life out of me as he threatened to kill me if I didn’t co-operate.

If you have been abused, you need to talk to someone, or the trauma will eat you up. Talk to someone that you feel comfortable with. Someone you trust. Someone who is caring and strong enough to help you get through this. Someone who will listen and speak for you if necessary. Also, if you have been approached by someone who has been a victim of abuse, be a good listener; don’t interrupt. Let them speak. It has taken a lot of courage to come to you and break the silence. Don’t ask questions like, “Why didn’t you tell someone long ago? Or, Why didn’t you run away? Or, “Why didn’t you scream? Questions like these make them think that what happened was their fault and that they could have prevented it. Don’t pretend you are a psychiatrist. Just listen and show concern. You can encourage them to seek professional help. Go with them if they want you to.

Let them know they can call on you day or night.

Finally, take advantage of places that offer help, like Family Transition Place. Make use of the 24-hour crisis line, and your close friends and family.

Cliff Wright, Dufferin County, Ontario

Have you experienced sexual assault or know someone that might need some support? Here are some helpful resources:

FTP offers free individual counselling in Orangeville, Bolton and Shelburne for women and men 16 years of age and older for recent or historical sexual abuse.

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