'No more' - Childhood sexual abuse survivors to speak out in exhibition

Photographs of the childhood sexual abuse survivors will be shown as part of the exhibition at The Forum in Norwich.

Lucy, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Photographs of the survivors will be shown as part of the exhibition at The Forum in Norwich. - Credit: ETT Photography / @maryettphotography

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are recounting their experiences as part of a powerful exhibition to highlight the importance of speaking out and seeking help.

The Forum, Norwich, exhibition will show their portraits to illustrate the different ways in which people have coped with the impact of their abuse.

Created by peer support group No More, it aims to give those affected by childhood sexual abuse a voice and will share members' experiences to encourage others to take the the 'first steps' towards support.

It also hopes to 'debunk the stigma' surrounding this subject.

Jean Rochford, who came up with the idea with others, is among those sharing their stories.

Jean Rochford came up with the idea of the exhibition with others and has shared her story.

Jean Rochford came up with the idea of the exhibition with others and has shared her story to speak out about childhood sexual abuse and to help others. - Credit: ETT Photography / @maryettphotography

She said the first step is the "hardest" but hopes the event will show survivors are "more than our abuse". 

Here are some of their stories in their own words:

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Minnie Moll

Minnie Moll hopes more survivors can find the strength to speak out and support each other.

Minnie Moll hopes the more people like herself can speak out about the abuse they faced the more survivors can support each other. - Credit: ETT Photography / @maryettphotography

"Not telling. Not telling to protect my parents from the anger and guilt they would feel that it happened in their home. With a man they trusted and showed kindness to.

"Not telling because there was a painting of him in the local pub.

"Not telling because of the guilt and shame that I felt. When of course all of the guilt and blame lay with him.

"Not telling that created such psychosomatic illness that I ended up in hospital.

"Not telling is corrosive. As the saying goes, holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

"I’m so lucky that I had a loving family and I have had a blessed life.

"What happened to me as a child has not defined me or held me back. But I so wish I had spoken sooner and not carried that weight alone for so many years.

"For me, finally speaking publicly about what happened to me, gave me my power back. I turned the rock I had been carrying for so long into rocket fuel.

"I wholeheartedly support this ‘No More’ exhibition. The more of us who speak out, the more we can support each other and highlight how wicked and cruel this crime is."

Hazel

Hazel has shared her story in the No More exhibition.

Hazel is sharing her story for the 'No More' exhibition. - Credit: ETT Photography / @maryettphotography

"One afternoon whilst sitting in a counselling session, I would find the answer to the question I had asked myself for so long - why was I so consumed with the fear of death?

"In one given moment, a moment of utter shock and realisation, my body and mind finally allowed me to remember.

"I had been sexually abused as a child by my parents' friend. I was threatened to comply by being told that if I tried to tell anyone my parents would die, I would die.

"There it was staring me right in the face, the answer that I had longed for, and it turned out to be my worst nightmare.

"I went through all the emotions possible, felt all there was to feel about being a victim of abuse, realising I had taken on the responsibility of keeping my parents safe all these years, I had tried to protect them all my life, became my mum’s mum instead of being her daughter.

"I was constantly in a freeze or flight state, playing out the same existence over and over again, the same behaviours and patterns, yet I could also see how at long last my entire life made sense.

"As crazy as it seems, the clouds seemed to pass, and all the pieces of the puzzle came together, yet as they did I began to realise I didn’t have a clue who I was, I had been so disconnected from my body, my heart, and my soul that my head had controlled my life.

"I had lived a life in death.

"That was back then and as I sit here today, I am now truly blessed with the knowledge and wisdom of who I am.

"I am a woman who faced her biggest fear, who stared death right in the face and found life.

"I am a woman who has shown great strength and courage, who has bared her soul so bravely and vulnerably, cracked open her heart and discovered the love she has for herself, who faced the shadow parts of herself, who healed the core wounds of her existence to discover her magic and gain the confidence to share her art with the world.

"I am the woman who no longer feels afraid to speak her truth or share her wisdom, who has rewritten her story, collapsed her timelines from abuse, embodied her sovereignty, and found her divine feminine, the woman who is living a life led by her soul.

"I am the woman who rose like a phoenix from the darkest depths of abuse to her divinity.

"I am the woman who is here to lead others along the same incredible transformational journey and help them to create their very own heaven on earth, to show them that 'anything is possible'.

"I'm here to say no more silence."

Mrs Rochford

Flyer of the No More exhibition, which will be held at The Forum.

Flyer of the No More exhibition, which will be held at The Forum. - Credit: Submitted by Jean Rochford

"Starting to walk as an infant must have been scary, but that one I don’t remember.

"The first step to talking about and seeking help [for the] childhood sexual abuse I suffered was, and still is, very memorable.

"I have had the first steps in healing from this part of my life many times with numerous amount of humans, some friends, family, strangers and professionals.

"Now much further in that journey I have learned who helped me repair and who opened up that wound and delayed healing.

"Mainly because of education of those who treat trauma, the courses they took, the content of that education.

"In the mixture of this is the structure they end up working under which has not in my mind been set up to help the person that takes those first steps through their door.

"They might leave when it’s time to go and never return because harm done. We all go on looking but the trauma and trust issues will stay with us.

"Once we have found that space to start healing we will start to challenge those practices."

Lucy, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is part of the exhibition.

Lucy, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is part of the exhibition. - Credit: ETT Photography / @maryettphotography

Their stories and that of other survivors will be highlighted in the exhibition, which will be held at The Forum in Norwich from Tuesday, April 12 to Friday, April 15 from 10am to 4.30pm.

Where to go for support

Support is available from many different charities and organisations for survivors of sexual abuse. The following is some of the services that could help if you have been affected by the subject in this article.

Peer support group No More can be contacted at jean.rochford@btinternet.com

  • Freedom From Abuse on 0333 7721 920 or help@freedom-abuse.org. For advice visit www.freedom-abuse.org.
  • Fresh Start - New Beginnings, a dedicated charity in Norfolk and Suffolk which provides a therapeutic service for children and young people up to 18 years, can be contacted on 01473 353355 or fsnb.org.uk
  • The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) on 0808 801 0331 or support@napac.org.uk
  • The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) on its Childline 0800 1111 or if you are an adult concerned about a child call 0808 800 5000.
  • Lifecentre - 0808 802 0808
  • The Survivors Trust - 0808 8010 818 / helpline@thesurvivorstrust.org
  • Sue Lambert Trust - 01603 622406 /  info@suelamberttrust.org  or visit www.suelamberttrust.org. Anyone over the age of 11 can self-refer to the Sue Lambert Trust for therapy and counselling if seeking support.