‘It doesn’t define me’ - Campaigner urging victims of child sexual abuse to speak out
PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 11 April 2020
Sent in by Jean Rochford
A survivor of sexual abuse who refuses to be defined by her past is urging victims to speak out rather than waiting decades to seek help.
Jean Rochford, 70, from west Norfolk, was due to feature in a photographic exhibition at The Forum in Norwich this month showing people who had been abused as children but the event has been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Mrs Rochford was abused from the age of five until she was 14 by a trusted person.
She said: “I knew it wasn’t right.”
But the retired accounts worker, who went onto marry and have two sons, now aged in their 40s, said she did not know how to communicate what was happening to her.
Mrs Rochford, who never went to the police about her abuse but received a year of counselling in her early 60s, added: “I’m a wife, mother, grandmother and volunteer. Although this happened to me as a kid it doesn’t define me.”
She added: “It is quite a difficult thing to acknowledge what goes on. It is about being prepared to stand up and speak out and attract other people to make them stronger.
“When I started talking about my experience it was more older people coming forward about it but now more younger people are speaking out.
“We need to help this generation. If children going through it are believed and nurtured, they come out a lot better. The hardest thing is to speak out and reach out for help.”
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The keen cyclist put her abusive past “in a box” and believed the experience changed her way of thinking meaning she worked constantly, could not sleep well, was overprotective of her two sons during their childhood and was taken back to her feelings she felt as a child when in pressurised situations.
Mrs Rochford admitted it was painful talking about the abuse at first when she was in her 40s but she had since learned coping mechanisms and felt she was on the road to recovery.
She now volunteers for the Freedom from Abuse and speaks at different groups.
The photographic exhibition, which will take place at a later date, will show people pictured as adults and Mrs Rochford wants it to encourage people to talk about sexual abuse.
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