Leaving Neverland – Finally, the truth of childhood sexual abuse…

Firstly, this post is not about Michael Jackson.

This is not about pointing out fault or blame anywhere, it is not to determine the guilt of Michael Jackson, although my personal view that where there is smoke, there is fire and the accounts of the two accusers are extraordinarily detailed and specific.

This post is a long time coming for me personally, and it is coming from a place of needing to share my voice about what happened to me, and the Leaving Neverland documentary has given me a way to communicate my story in a way that I hope others can begin to understand what childhood sexual trauma feels like to the victim.

Whilst MJ fans world wide are sending death threats to Wade and James, the two men courageous enough to come forward and telling their story in the doco, their truth, the real experiences of these two men, lifts the lid on what it is truly like for any “survivor” of childhood sexual “abuse”.

Whilst I have shared openly before that I was sexually “abused” for seven years from age three by a neighbour, there is no way I could have told of my experience, the way this documentary shared what it is like.

You will note that I place the words “abuse” and “survivor” in inverted comma’s, and that is for a very specific reason.

No one “survives” childhood sexual “abuse”.

No matter how much therapy you under go, as James in both the doco and in the most amazing interview with Oprah (PLEASE watch this! It explains the experience of childhood sexual abuse perfectly )healing from these wounds takes a life time.

With the Cardinal George Pell conviction two weeks ago here in Australia, one of the two victims overdosed on drugs when he was 30 years old.

Not everyone survives the trauma.

Every child that has been abused, deals with it in different ways. There will either be some form of addiction or serious mental health issue that happens either early on from the childhood sexual relationship, or as what both Wade and James describe, their breakdown/s happened later in life post having children of their own, both specifically having sons.

Personally for me, I had locked away the memories of the abuse because they were way too painful and I was not capable of processing them, until 10 years ago come this August.

I vividly recall when the memories surfaced during a hypnotherapy session for treatment of my bulimia diagnosis. I was shell shocked when such clear visions came through. Visions of my next-door neighbour touching my naked body, having his son touch me and instructing him to insert his fingers inside of me to penetrate whilst taking pictures, over the seven years moving to penetration with his penis.

I recall just staring at my therapist at the time blankly and asking “how do you get to the age of 36 and not know you have been sexually abused?” and he said to me, “our body tries to protects us and will hold on the memories and block them from your consciousness until it feels you are ready to see them and heal them, and in some cases, that never happens, for some people, the memories are taken to the grave and never released”.  Body wisdom at it’s strongest. I drove home numb after that session late in the night and didn’t function for days. I went back three days later to try to heal the emotion of pure shock and disgust. But once that door way had been opened, the memories were constant and shocking and confronting. It was like I was watching a horror movie.

There is one point I feel is so important for everyone to understand that feels it appropriate to make judgement as to why Wade and James never spoke of the sexual relationship with MJ, and denied it up until six years ago.

The abusers groom you, make you believe they love you, will protect you, are kind to you, so you develop a bond with them. For me, my parents owned their own business so were not around a lot when I was a young child, so I had a male figure giving me attention, telling me he loved me, giving me gifts, some of which I still have today. You want to protect them. You believe them when they tell you how much trouble you would be in if anybody ever found out.

The reason I use inverted comma’s around the word “abuse” as well is because as you will see within both Leaving Neverland and the Oprah interview, when the relationship is taking place, you are experiencing your first sexual relationship, your first experience of “love” that is not from your family, you don’t see what you are experiencing as abuse. You don’t even understand the word abuse.

After the relationship ends, and for most, many years later, you begin to sense that the relationship may not have been healthy according to society. You hear of other stories of similar relationships and see people’s reactions of disgust of those relationships and you know deep down you can never tell anyone because they will look at you with the same disgust.

For me, for the first few years post the memory banks flooding open, I had many counsellors get angry at me because I wasn’t able to get angry and cut the chords with the perpetrator. I could never explain why, I just never felt angry at him so couldn’t express an emotion I wasn’t feeling about him. They would get frustrated at me and explain, “what this man did to you was disgusting, why aren’t you getting angry?”, and like what is explained so beautifully in the documentary is that as a child, you have no capability of understanding the relationship is wrong. Or that the acts being performed on you or you are participating in, are wrong, so to get angry about the relationship, at the person you loved, makes not only love and sex feel wrong and dirty and bad, but it also makes you question everything else about your childhood.

Watching the documentary, and the Oprah interview with Wade and James has bought up a wide variety of emotions for me. There is anger, frustration, hurt, shame, embarrassment and fear. But the most important thing that I realised, is that I have ALOT more healing to do around this relationship. Whilst the hypnotherapy, and work with other counsellors over the years helped minimise the rawness of the emotions around the experience, helped me get to a place of acceptance that it happened, I have not done the much deeper work of un-rooting the impact it has had on my body and soul. I have tried to fool my body that I was healed, watching this doco and the Oprah interview made me understand how long the path will be.

James said at an interview at the Sundance Film Festival about forgiveness, that it is not a line you cross, it is a road you take, and whilst I taken myself off that road, I am now placing myself back on the road to forgiveness.

I will be doing a few more posts around the emotions this doco has bought up for me around my childhood sexual relationship so that I can try and hopefully support any one person out there that is struggling with a similar experience, or similar feelings, to help them understand they are not alone.

To answer the question, I am sure many of you are wondering, do I now know this relationship was abuse, yes, I do. Do I hate the perpetrator, no. Did he, and the relationship cause me mental harm, 100%, undeniable.

Again, as Wade and James both say, healing from what happened in that relationship, will take the rest of my life to heal.

I am grateful this documentary was made. I am grateful Oprah did the interview with Wade and James. I learned so much about myself and my experience from watching both.

It may be hard to believe that these people harmed young children, but you were not in the room, you don’t know the truth of what they experienced, or what any other “survivor” experienced.

Whilst challenging, think to yourself, how would you respond if your child, niece, told you they had been touched inappropriately by a neighbour, trusted family friend, priest. What do you feel in your gut? Do you automatically believe them? Do you question them? Do you feel they are making up story’s?  Whatever your response, ask yourself, why did I react that way?

My last comment for this post, I pray that even if you choose to believe Michael Jackson is not a paedophile, or that the conviction of Cardinal George Pell on five counts of sexual misconduct, including penetration, with a minor are false, that you at least open your mind enough that you are able to understand that whilst we can put people on a pedestal, such as the ones that both MJ and the Cardinal were on, that they are human. They are not perfect, nobody is.

Just try to honour the courage for any child that has been sexually abused to speak so openly about their experiences, should be honoured and respected and not torn down and be in receipt of death threats like Wade and James have been.

Have an open enough mind to listen to them. To watch the documentary. And not automatically trust Michael Jackson, somebody you were never in a darkened room with.

Oh, and for those asking why I am doing this post when my business is focused on body image, emotional eating, binge eating, eating disorders. Where do you think mine started?

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