I still find it hard to say that my grandad sexually abused me from when I was eight years-old. At the time I didn’t realise it was wrong, it was only when I got older that I realised it wasn’t normal but by then I couldn’t tell anyone. How do you tell your family something like that? Drugs helped me forget.
It’s hard to explain how much that kind of abuse affects you – it’s literally changed the course of my life. I started smoking cannabis when I was 12 to cope with the anxiety and that led to harder drugs and time in jail. I left in 2010 and a condition of my release was getting treatment with CGL. To be honest, I wasn’t committed to it – I thought I could do it on my own, even though I was living with a partner who was also struggling with an addiction.
One day I came into Change Grow Live in tears – I was suicidal and desperately needed help. My key worker booked me into a detox and for the first time there was a shift in me. I met people who were in recovery and that gave me hope that I could change my life too.
It’s been a tough road since then. I only managed to open up about the abuse for the first time two years ago, which was incredibly scary because I’d suppressed those memories for so long and put on a ‘front’. Now I had to be vulnerable and open. I’m so glad I did it though because it was such a relief to talk about it.
I’m proud to say that I’ve been in recovery for almost two years now and have a job as a youth worker and manager for a kids’ football team. A lot of the children I work with have behavioural problems, so this job has really meant so much to me – to be there for them. I’m also back in touch with my family, which feels amazing.
To anyone reading this now who is struggling with similar issues, I want to say that you are not alone and it’s never too late to get help.
*Name has been changed to protect service user’s identity.
Have you been affected by any of the issues in Mark’s story?
Find a CGL service to start your recovery journey
The NSPCC has support for children and families affected by abuse
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) has information and support for abuse survivors