Jeremy’s Story: Speaking Out About My Abuse
Trigger Warning: This article contains information about sexual abuse which may be triggering to survivors.
When I turned 24, my life began to change. I started having severe bouts of sadness that seemed to come out of nowhere. They would leave me feeling low and upset. I was confused, asking myself, “What was going on? Why was this happening?”.
As time passed, these episodes started lasting hours, and they came coupled with memories from my past. They were memories of when I was a young 8-year-old boy. I was in disbelief that this was happening after all of this time. Why now?! I had come so far since the abuse. I had a good job, great friends, and life was generally going well. Of course, I had never forgotten what happened to me. Occasionally something would come up on the news, or somebody would say something that would remind me of it, but I didn’t care, life was good and I wanted it to stay that way.
I decided the best thing to do was to fight the memories. My strategy was to keep pushing them away until they gave up and disappeared. But it seemed the more I pushed, the more strength it gave them. They started attacking me from all angles, and I couldn’t hold them off. They even made their way into my dreams, where I would wake up screaming that he had snuck into my room. At this point, I knew the fight was over, and I needed to do something about it.
I spoke out for the first time to a close friend when I was 27-years-old, which was just short of 20 years after the abuse happened. As soon as I did this, I felt an incredible lift, like I had achieved something great. It encouraged me to continue sharing my story, one person at a time. As the years went on, I could feel myself growing in confidence. It was a fantastic feeling, and to add to this, as the confidence grew, the fear of what other people may think was reducing.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey I had been on to get to this point, looking at the different stages of coming to terms with my past and figuring out how to move forward. It led me to wonder what other people may be going through. How were they doing? I started searching online to find out. I came across a chat room where people were writing their stories and expressing how they felt. There was one post that really struck a chord with me. So much so that I had to re-read it several times. It was from a 70-year-old woman; she explained that she never told anyone what happened to her as a child. She felt this was one of the main reasons that held her back in life. She explained that she will now take this secret to the grave her. I couldn’t believe it; I felt so sad for her. It made me realize how fortunate I was to have people around me that I could tell. I felt a sense of gratitude to be in that situation, and I decided that I should try to do something for people like her.
I began to think of how I could be of use, how I could use my story to help others. I thought the first thing to do was start sharing my story publicly. I remembered that I had been to an open mic night earlier that year, which was a free event to the public where you could sign up on the door and perform that night. I knew this would be a good starting point, so I went as a storyteller and began speaking on the open mic stages around London.
These events were held in pubs and bars. They were busy venues where people came to have a drink with friends and listen to the musicians and singers who were performing. It was the wrong environment for my story. The audiences looked uncomfortable as I spoke, and things were not going well at all. One venue cut my microphone halfway through my story and told me that I had to stop and come off the stage. It felt terrible. On another night, I had a guy from the audience stand up and shout, “This is meant to be a night of entertainment, and you’ve come here talking about kids getting touched!”. I literally couldn’t believe it; I felt completely defeated. It was like I couldn’t take one more night, but I knew I couldn’t stop. It was the best option for me, and I had to keep going.
I needed to improve my performance to stand any chance of getting somewhere at these venues. I needed to be more creative with how I told my story. I started experimenting with different ideas. I wrote a performance that explained why I never said anything at the time the abuse was going on, and I delivered it over music. It was catching people’s attention. One night I started with two or three people watching, and by the end of my performance, I had the whole venue’s attention. They clapped and cheered; I will never forget that moment. From there on, I knew I was on to something.
I began performing at every event that I could. I didn’t care what type of venue it was anymore. If the night went ‘badly,’ then so be it; it was all helping me develop my content and delivery on stage. I started recording my performances and uploading them onto social media. Somebody saw my work and told me about a poetry and spoken word open mic night happening in London, so I went. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived. It was a room packed with a supportive audience, who were there solely to watch the performers. Everybody paid full attention to the stage and showed overwhelming support. The night was fantastic. I felt like I had finally found the right platform to share my story.
I have now been speaking out in public for two years. I have also been creating videos and social media posts online. I have collaborated with filmmakers, illustrators, and photographers to be as creative as possible in communicating this topic. I believe if things can be kept engaging and interesting for the viewer, then we can bring more attention to this subject, which is essential if we stand any chance of breaking the stigma and the silence.
I truly believe we can do this.
Thank you for listening to my story. If you would like to see the content I have been creating around child sexual abuse, please go to Jeremy Indika on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
If you have been affected by sexual violence and need help, we urge you to reach out to RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or hotline.rainn.org/online.