How calling Kids Help Phone was the start of my healing journey: Rachael’s* story

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From the age of six, my father molested me.

At first it was just leers, touches and kisses, but over time, it became more.

I thought what was happening to me was normal, that this happened to every little girl, and that every family was like this.

It really wasn’t until I started going to high school that I became suspicious about life at home. I tried reaching out indirectly to teachers through essays and by talking to friends, but it was just so hard to speak about something so personal, so openly.

I was really confused about my dad, loving and hating him in turn. We were all warned about strangers at school, but no one told us to watch out for the stranger in the person you love.

Where I went from there wasn’t straightforward. My mom took me to a therapist and told her that I was having difficulty with my dad.

Sitting on my bed crying after another molestation, I was absent-mindedly thumbing through my school agenda, when I saw the Kids Help Phone number. I dialled before I could change my mind about it, even though I had a sudden wave of anxiety.

I vividly remember sitting on the floor behind my bedroom door, fearful that my dad would try to come into my room. My senses were strained trying to pick up any footsteps in the hallway as the counsellor answered the phone and asked me how she could help.

The counsellor was patient with me and she listened – not just to what I was saying, but to the pain and loss behind it. It was the first time I’d ever felt heard when talking about my dad and what was going on at home. The counsellor was the first person to ever say to me “that wasn’t okay, it wasn’t your fault, and you need to seek help.” And that was the moment I started my healing journey.

Before I talked to the counsellor, it never really clicked that my dad was hurting me. I’d never known anything else.

My healing journey since that first phone call hasn’t been easy. Talking to Kids Help Phone opened my eyes and pointed me in the right direction, but there was no miracle cure for the psychological damage that was done growing up in that environment. I’ve spent a lot of time processing it with counsellors over the last decade.

What I do know is that it’s so important that kids speak out about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. It only gets worse, never better, until you tell someone. Sharing in the guilt and the secrets only helps your abuser, not you.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

** Rachael’s Story was submitted to Kids Help Phone through the Share Your Story outreach initiative