Take me to the fantastic place, keep the rest of my life awake.

Depressed Man Portrait

For my most recent counselling (read therapy!) session my therapist explained some of what had happened to me during the previous week.

I remember myself having a few black outs last week, but I was very tired going into the session so I put these down to just nodding off. I was also a little anxious before the session as I knew that coming weekend I would be spending a lot of time on my own, nothing major but just a little subconscious anxiety about no-one being around at night.

I asked my therapist Laura about a dream I had a few days ago which she happened to feature in. “You took me and my brother swimming in the open air pool we used to go to on holiday”. “We were all walking together and counting to 10, I could count to 10 but my brother couldn’t he was too young” I say. “Does that dream make any sense? Why were you there?” I ask her.

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“That makes perfect sense”. Laura replies. “In last weeks session you kept apologising for falling asleep on me, but you hadn’t fallen asleep. You had gone into flashback and were reliving some difficult moments”. “You couldn’t hear me for a lot of the time but I just reassured you I was there and I spoke your name a lot to keep you grounded” she explains.

“Just before the session ended” Laura continues “You went into Flashback again and I stepped in to help you. I took you and your brother to the swimming pool away from a possible source of danger, we walked and counted to 10 and went swimming”.

Whoa. That’s a pretty deep conversation to be having with someone about things you don’t recall yourself. Inside, I feel angry, scared and dissapointed in myself. I begin to tap my pen hard on the table in front of me as if to distract myself.

“How was I?” I ask Laura. “Was I aggressive, was I swearing, was I distressed?” I continue. “What happens if I’m around my wife or Children or family when this happens?” I begin to worry.

“You were not aggressive at all, I wasn’t worried but then I am trained in these matters. You spoke to me as a young boy though, your words were that of an adolescent and you told me that you were 5 years old” Laura explains.

“Ideally you should tell everyone really about these flashbacks, they will be very distressing for friends or family if they occur and they don’t know whats happening”.

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And then the sledgehammer blow. “You spoke the name of your abuser for the first time ever in one of your flashbacks” Laura tells me. “Can I mention the name to you?” she asks.

I’ve never conciously told Laura his name so I do wonder if she is trying to catch me out at first. She knows that I don’t like to speak it so I wonder if this is her way of trying to get it out of me. I call her bluff and tell her she can mention the name, it’s just a name.

So she does say his name, and she’s 100% correct in what she says. I’ve never told her the name as an adult but the young boy in me has told her and now it’s out and Laura knows, I feel more ashamed than ever now.

 

 

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Derbyshire Child Abuse Cover up partners – Police, Council and CPS

cathy fox blog on child abuse

The following article is noteworthy for several reasons

  • investigative research
  • forced drugging of child
  • child abuse by a woman
  • false allegations
  • child protection failures by Council and Police
  • cover up of failures by Council, Police and CPS
  • destruction of evidence by Council and Police
  • legal aid fraud uncovered related to domestic violence

Note also the comment on the original article that Sussex has similar problems

For child protection to work better it is essential that councils and police work together in partnership. However this partnership becomes dangerous when they also work together to cover up their mistakes and failures and corruption.

As yet there have been no criminal prosecutions or comeback on those perpetrators of illegal acts. If this does not happen, there are no consequences for covering up and it will happen again.

2016 Oct 31 Derbyshire Independent Child abuse – Police and council officers caught destroying evidence and…

View original post 1,033 more words

(Flash) Back to the future

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Whenever I’ve had times in my life when I’ve been alone, I have always tried to keep myself as busy as possible so that I could avoid going to sleep.

Going to sleep alone meant not being in control anymore, being unconscious meant that the flashbacks could occur and I didn’t want them to occur while I was on my own. I was scared.

I worked late, I volunteered at a hospice, I taught myself photography and photo editing techniques, I researched sponsoring a young boy in Zimbabwe, I went to the gym, I went running for miles and miles, I ran marathons. I did everything that could prolong me going to sleep, or that would aid in exhausting me, so that I had no choice but to go to sleep. In my head, I just got on with life and was moving so fast that the past had no chance of catching up with me.

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Anyone who suffers from traumatic flashbacks will know they can be quite overwhelming, disorientating, isolating and scary. When you haven’t communicated the reasons for your flashbacks then of course you just isolate yourself again. It’s a vicious circle that’s hard to know whats right to do, so do you…?

1. Talk about your trauma with friends and family and upset everyone. Deal with questions about why and when. Deal with people feeling as guilty as you do, being ashamed of yourself when talking, worrying about people leaving you because you are broken, worrying about people not believing you.

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2. Guard yourself, choose your relationships carefully, choose your words carefully, put these problems aside for another day and keep running away from the truth, the hurt, the trauma.

For me I chose option 2, the wrong option.

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I am now back in a position in my life that’s out of my control. Despite me craving to keep control of situations I have lost that right. I have my family supporting me, my children loving me and cuddling me, but I am once again, very alone.

The flashbacks are here and they are as disorientating, confusing and scary as they always have been but this time because of my personal circumstances, I cannot run away, I cannot escape from them and it’s really challenging and hard.

With love, strength and support I’ll pull through this, I’m 100% certain of that, I promised myself at 18 years old, HE, would never beat me.

For the time being just bare with me whilst I pull myself back together.

 

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Awake inside a Dream

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I have had for most of my life a couple of recurring dreams. One is a bit of a nightmare which often wakes me up, the other is a more gentle dream which is quite comforting.

Over recent weeks during counselling sessions we have touched on my dreams and the possible links to my abuse and some of the timelines. It’s been quite frightening to face my dreams and hear my counsellor explain her theory on things, I feel like for the last month or so I have been climbing steadily downwards back into the abyss.

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In my nightmare, I am very young, possibly 2 or 3, I am in the basement of the flat I lived in as a child and in a dimly lit room on my own. A large staircase is in front of me and as I walk towards it I am aware of a large, dark figure in the corner of the room. I don’t know who it is but I feel uncomfortable. I get onto the stairs and try to climb them but my feet get stuck and my progress is slow, the stairs seem enormous and I am getting nowhere. The dark figure is getting closer and there is nowhere for me to escape too, I feel terrified. I wake up.

My second dream involves me being in my cot as a baby. I’m maybe 1 or 2. I’m aware of a person coming into my bedroom and placing a present at the end of my cot near my feet. It’s my dad and I feel safe and warm. He creeps out of the room and I open my present to find a pull along toy caterpillar, I’m very happy and I wake up. I think that dream may have been my first or second Christmas as a baby.

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My counselor suggests that this caterpillar dream could be my last good memory from my early childhood. The reason this dream is so vivid and the fact that my dreams turn dark after that and memories fade, could be an indication that my abuse may have started earlier than I remember. That’s really not what I want to have to deal with and have to tell people, I feel quite crushed mentally.

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We discuss my life after 11 years old, where my memories are bright and vivid, I’d settled into my lovely new house, my baby sister was born, I’d been over to America to see my distant family and I attended high school. I was no longer touched and violated, life was turning out really good.

We discussed my love of graphic horror films, extreme genre films and cult films and it’s explained that this simply could be a control thing. With a horror film, I am in charge of any scares and can switch off the film at any point I feel uncomfortable with – I retain full control of the situation and my feelings basically. It’s also explained as a distraction for my mind, to view these on-screen horrors which I know are not real, thus keeping me away from the real horrors that are present in life itself.

I know for sure I would much rather come across Leatherface, Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees than ever face my own demons again.

Fiction can be scary of course but I’ve seen very little fiction on screen that has ever truly scared me. In comparison, reality, fact and trauma can be absolutely terrifying.

 

The sounds that I hear

 

 

 

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I used to love watching the police documentaries on TV where a wriggling suspect sits in an interview room looking very uncomfortable saying “no comment” to each question posed by the police. “Guilty as hell” I always used to tell myself as no comment clearly meant to me the defendant was hiding something.

The Great British justice system promises that you are innocent until proven guiltyHowever for sexual crime offenses the opposite seems to be the case. You are certainly guilty until the Police or yourself can prove you are innocent.  The paradox is that they, the Police,  are the people investigating you, the people who sent 8 officers to your house to search it, photographed each room, searched your cars, your garage and your shed, bailed you to not allow you to go home and then worked on the case for 5 months. Are they really going to just let you go or accept a sequence of misunderstandings and mistakes as the reasons to how you got there? The answer to that is a big resounding no.

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You are told that “you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say maybe given in evidence”

In my experience that roughly translates too “if you say no comment, you clearly have something to hide and we will try and use that against you” or “if you do cooperate fully, you will hopefully incriminate yourself,  we will then use your answers and pull out the pieces we need from 2 interviews, splice them together, and form a prosecution case”.

Here’s a quote from the prosecution in court to the judge “We have searches for indecent images of children going back to March 2015”.

In reality there were two searches in Google, one straight after each other, in March 2015 “Preteen Toons” and “Preteen Toons Torrents”.

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My explanation to the police was that I had meant to search for Precert Toons and Precert Toons Torrents (I was searching for the pre-certification film Fritz the Cat and couldn’t *remember the title at the time but knew it was a cartoon (*memory issues – different subject)). This 70’s film wasn’t widely available to purchase until recently. Here’s a little bit more about….. Fritz the cat

Fritz the cat was directed by Ralph Bakshi, the same director who had directed a version of the Lord of the Rings in the 70’s also (there’s a link here for myself with regards this).

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The judge also heard of other searches I told the Police I had performed including terms such as Lolita and Baby Love, which in the context of an investigation into child abuse images sound horrific.

However, one is a Stanley Kubrick movie and one is a low budget British movie starring Linda Hayden. The facts are that I have a collection of weird and strange precert VHS videos and DVD’s, some of which would make the devil blush. I’m a big fan of genre, euro horror and cult films,  myself being a product of the british video nasties scare from the 80’s.

The prosecutions job of course is to make you sound like the most horrific and worst person in the world, a pervert and possible predator, a sex offender.  And the prosecution can quite easily now portray me as they need as I have pleaded guilty to the charges of “making indecent photographs of Children”. I was advised by my solicitor at my first court appearance “The Police don’t have to prove any intent for you downloading the indecent movies, they just have to prove they were downloaded”.  “In essense you are guilty, if you plead as such, you’ll get great credit and we can start to get you home” I was advised.

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The police had already technically proven that the files had been downloaded by my peer to peer software and I had confessed when asked that “I was likely responsible for them being downloaded then”.

As the prosecution so eloquently put it “The defendant has admitted to downloading child pornography involving young girls between the ages of 8 – 10 using search terms such as Lolita and Preteen”. I now join the thousands of sex offenders convicted each year and am now being processed as such.

My voice, my spoken words and my cooperation with the police has resulted in me incriminating myself. With my experience through the criminal justice system I begin to understand why some people sit with the police and simply say “no comment.

Perhaps some people actually have nothing to hide after all?

 

 

There is a light that never goes out

 

May 12th 2017.

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On 12th May I set off for the Police Station to be charged. I’m currently staying in a B&B, well it’s actually an air bNb as at the moment my brother needs some space at his house as does my sister so I can’t stay with either of them at the moment. So I’m booked into an air bNb for about 9 days as I have no other places to stay.

I get all my paperwork ready, bail conditions, bail sheets and arrest sheets just in case I need them. I drive up the police center on the outskirts of town and park up and buzz myself in. “Hi, I’m here to be charged today” and I give my name. I don’t think I’m quite with reality yet as the realism is that after today I will be a charged criminal, a possible sex offender. I will serve a life sentence with this alongside my current life sentence of being abused.

The other voice in my head is telling myself “but you are still you, you’re a great guy, people love you, you’re an amazing dad, feel some pride with the positives rather than the negatives”. My issue is the negative list is getting bigger and bigger and catching up with the positives.

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The arresting officer for the case isn’t here today. I’m very disappointed by that as I wanted to speak with her.  I emailed the officer after my interview at the end of March and just thanked her for speaking to me with “compassion and dignity” as I thought she cared about me. But there was no caring really, she had everything she needed from me to make a charge and that was all that was about. More fool me really. Someone in authority who cared what I’d been through?! Don’t be so stupid.

I just would have thought that having “nailed me” so to speak, she would have wanted to have charged me? Maybe she thinks I’m scum and can’t look me in the eye? Perhaps she does have some compassion and so can’t look me in the eye from that point? I’m rambling a bit.

Rather ironically I know the custody sergeant on today. He’s all smiles and very nice, crazy really given the situtation ahead of me. He reads the charges to me, asks if I can read and then turns around his computer monitor so that I can read them on the screen.

On or before 26/10/2016 Made an Indecent Photograph, namely 1 level B Movie, of a child. Recovered from Exhibit XXX

On or before 26/10/2016 Made an Indecent Photograph, namely 4 Level A Movies, of a child.  Recovered fromExhibit XXX

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“Do you understand the charges put to you?” the custody sergeant asks me.

“Without meaning to sound ignorant. I don’t understand the charges at all. Can I ask how you read them yourself please?” I respond.

The custody sergeant turns the screen back towards himself, reads back the charges quietly and then looks up at me. “Well I read those as that you’ve taken indecent movies of children. Is that not what’s happened?”

“No” I respond. “That’s not what’s happened at all”.

The officer assisting the custody sergeant reads through the charges also. “Let me go and get hold of the investigating officer and they can clarify the charges”. She leaves the room.

“You’re perfectly entitled to question these, if they aren’t right mate we will change them” The custody officer informs me.

The assisting officer returns. “The charges stand, they are because you admitted in your first interview on tape to having viewed a Cat A Film in the past”. She stares at me making me feel very guilty.

And you know what, she’s right. I did tell the police in my first interview that I had once seen a Cat A movie and so I accept the charges.

It’s the first time in this whole process that I begin to understand it’s not really the absolute truth that matters, it’s the interperation of the truth that matters. The authorities have no interest that the file was inadvertandly downloaded, the only fact they need is that it was downloaded and I confessed to viewing a small part of it.

Job done for them, another criminal in the system, another sex offender down, another statistic for the home office. Justice at any cost.

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Posthumous Silence

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March 29th 2017

I’m shown by the investigating officer on her laptop, a story board sequence of one Cat A child abuse video. I’m looking at the storyboard but I see nothing I recognise. It’s not one of the files I have seen and she indeed asks me “do you recognise this clip?” “No I don’t recognise that” is my honest response.

And then it happens. I don’t know what IT is, it’s happened a number of times before. There’s a pain in my stomach and my head and I feel like I am going to die. I can’t show any weakness right now though, the police will see that and just equate it to guilt. The pressure is building in my head and I close my eyes and I just go. I go someplace else, I don’t want to be here so if I leave myself everything will be ok.

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I can hear myself still talking but I can’t make out the words. I feel very safe again, as if I’m watching from a distance and I’m ok now I tell myself. It’s ok to feel safe I tell myself and I see my Grandma, I remember Christmas at my house as a boy and my Dad giving me my first computer, a ZX Spectrum and oh how happy I was. I remember their being no abuse again and how happy I became and how my house with my parents and brother and sister was one of the best times for me. My house was my safe place, my therapy and was my home. I wanted there and then to go home.

Then the abuse came back and I keep my eyes closed “I was told to keep my eyes closed and everything will be ok, So that’s what I did and I just listened to what was going on” I try and explain. I recognised that some noises I heard meant I knew what was going to happen next and I could prepare myself or I knew I may be a bit sick afterwards if something was in my mouth but I’d be ready. “I’m about 6 years old” I say as if I am answering a question from a distant voice.

I open my eyes and I’m aware of where I am once more. With the police and my solicitor, being questioned about child abuse images, my dad sat out in reception waiting for me. I was crushingly disappointed to rejoin reality.

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I do remember the police officer telling me “it must be really frustrating for you knowing what this is all about” and I think I tell her “Yes, very frustrating” through my tears.

She tells me “you won’t be needing those leaflets I gave you then” and extends her hands to take them. I decline her offer though “I’d like to keep everything you gave me all together please”. I don’t want to hand control back and I want to keep control of what’s been provided to me.

“If you can think of the password for the file please email me” She asks.

“Well I’ve given you all my passwords” I explain “But I’ll email if I think of any others” I tell her.

The Interview concludes, I head back into a room with my solictor who starts to doodle on his pad, “5 Files, 4.75 Million Files recovered. I’m just trying to do the maths” he explains. “I can’t even work that out as a percentage. I’d be amazed if you get charged for this with your mitigating circumstances” he tells me.

And rather stupidly I believe him. I meet my dad in reception and tell him about the five files, I call my wife and tell her and explain what the solicitor said to me. I’m feeling quite positive. My Dad and I go for a drink and then I’m taken home and explain the situation to my Brother.

At the beginning of May 2017 the police charge me with making indecent photographs of children, namely 4 x Category A movies and 1 x Category B movies.

below is the inspiration behind this blogs title, and a song that will one day be played at my funeral. It’s lyrics speak for themselves. 

 

 

Against all this pain, please fight. Part 2

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March 29th 2017

I’m invited to sit down opposite my solicitor in a small white room, the door closes behind me, the table and chairs are bolted to the floor.

I’ve spotted 795 underlined on his A4 writing pad and I am here to talk about indecent images of children. We introduce each other as we have never met, he knows nothing about me apart from the fact I have been under police investigation for 5 months. What is he thinking of me? Can he tell I am scared? Can he tell I have been a victim myself? We chat generally and then he asks. “The Police need to speak with you about 5 files they have found”. “Five?” I repeat back to him. “Five files” he repeats to me.

My head and thoughts start racing. 5 files? So not 795 files? 5 Files out of 4.75 million the police had to look though. “Five files?” I repeat again. I think the solicitor then says “One of which is password protected, one of which is possibly corrupted, so the police need to ask if you know the password to that file”.

“I need to ask you” he continues “why a seemingly normal, happily married man living in a nice house with a young family has been found with 5 indecent images?”. “Are there any mitigating circumstances behind this because it doesn’t seem to make sense to the police or I?”

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I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I’d never wanted to have to tell the police about my abuse, I don’t want it to be used as an excuse, I don’t want people to pity me or have sympathy to me, I don’t want people to think any differently of me because I am damaged. I also hadn’t yet spoken to my parents about it and as the emotion builds up in me, stuck in this room on my own and in front of a strange man I’ve never met before in my life, I begin to cry. I ask my solicitor if I can trust him, if I can really trust him and he tells me everything we speak about is confidential.

Through an outpouring of emotion I tell him parts of my story, he listens and I can tell on his face he cares, he doesn’t probe me, he just listens. “I have to advise you as your solicitor that you need to let the police know about this today” he tells me.

“But I can’t” I tell him. “It’s not just as simple as telling a story of how I met my wife or how I got my job, this is very hard for me to talk about” I explain.

“We have to go in and see the police soon and they will ask you if there are any reasons at all they may have found these images. They will caution you at the start of the interview and tell you that anything you do say maybe used in evidence in a court of law against you. I advise you at this caution stage you tell your story”.

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We leave our white small room and cross the corridor to another room. The arresting and investigating officer is waiting for me, I sit down with my solicitor. I am shaking and scared but I hope no-one has noticed that.

I’m advised the interview will be recorded, the officer has a file and a laptop she places on the desk in front of me. She begins to caution me, I remember what the solicitor has said about telling my story and I open my mouth to try and speak. Nothing comes out, I open my mouth to tell my story but I’m silent, nothing comes and I know the solicitor who is sitting to my right hand side is looking at me. I’m trying to speak but nothing comes out.

I put my head in my hands, have I missed my chance to tell my story?

Against all this pain, please fight

 

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March 29th 2017 12:00 Noon

So this is D-Day. With the police informing me in January that they hadn’t yet completed their investigation into me and would be re-bailing me until March 31st 2017, the day has come. The police informed my wife and I that they had recovered 4.75 Million Digital Files from my 45 devices they seized at the end of October hence the investigation had taken sometime (5 Months in total).

I knew my wife was alarmed at this figure when the police informed us why it was taking so long. I tried myself to imagine how there would be nearly 5 million files for the police to look through. I must have shot around 25 Weddings, with an average of 2,000 images per wedding, these images were backed up twice and then there were the edited photos which were kept separate. There were all our holiday photos, again backed up across different drives, there were family shoots I had worked on, there were all of my photography training videos I had, there were films I had downloaded, there was music I had ripped and downloaded. But nearly 5 million files? I couldn’t quantify that many but that’s what the police told us they had.

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I arrive back at the police station with my Dad, I didn’t really want him to come with me but he wanted to be there for me so I respect that. My dad doesn’t know about my abuse at this stage and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be here on my own. I was scared of him finding out today, out of my control.

The investigating officer had confirmed the time of my appointment to me via email. She had also added in her email “really look forward to seeing you next week”. Really looking forward to seeing me? What did that mean? Did that mean she had found hundreds or thousands of files and has “nailed” me? I felt for certain the police would want to question me about some of the searches I had performed in September and October 2016 and I was ready with my answers. I knew they would want to know why I had such an interest in abuse cases and had been actively reading articles for quite sometime. But hundreds or thousands of files? That can’t be right please?

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I was scared. I didn’t want to have to talk about my own abuse to the police, I didn’t completely trust them. A solicitor was present for me today and I had never met him before.  My mind was already all over the place and I was back feeling vulnerable, but I was here and I had to get through this. For my children’s sake, for my wife’s sake, for my sake I’d try hard not to fold and crumble.

My solicitor is first to see the investigating officer for “disclosure” while I sit with my dad in the waiting room. I’m not aware of what happens today, I have an idea of what disclosure is but no-one has explained to me in any detail what happens today and I haven’t asked.

I’m invited in to a room to see my solicitor, as I walk nervously through the door I see he has an A4 notepad on the desk, at the top written in pen and underlined is the number 795. My heart sinks and my head begins to almost throb, that can’t be right?That just can’t be right I think to myself. 795 child abuse files? How can I ever explain that?

to be continued