In the past six weeks our lives, as we know them, have in many ways grounded to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. For a lot of us, this has meant the inconvenience of not being able to travel freely, visit friends and family, take a holiday, or carry out our usual daily routines. This, along with the horror of watching the news unfold of the devastating effects the virus has had on people throughout Ireland and the rest of the world, has understandably created a level of anxiety that many are not familiar with. We struggle with change at the best of times, but this, combined with the feeling of losing control, and an inability to plan for the future, has added a powerful fuel to this anxiety.

Now, stop for a second and consider what the current situation is like for someone who, six weeks ago, was already struggling with feelings of fear and anxiety, already struggling with the feeling of loss of control, who six weeks ago had fleeting thoughts that life was not worth living if it meant tolerating the torturous emotional pain that accompanies it. Welcome to the world of a survivor of child sexual abuse.

In my work as a psychotherapist, currently working remotely with One in Four, I have listened to my client’s gut wrenching cries as they come to terms with having the rug pulled out from underneath them, just as they were shakily beginning to find their feet, like a new born foal. Clients whose already shame riddled journeys to A&E departments, following an episode of self-harm, now feel even less worthy of a doctor or nurses time if that is possible. That feeling of shame, dogged and insidious in nature, which seeps into their every experience and interferes with every relationship, just one of the many long-term impacts of sexual abuse that they are battling with daily.

I have also heard them express their heartfelt gratitude at having someone to bear witness, to listen with empathy and to attempt to understand their feelings. To have one hour in their week when they don’t have to pretend that everything is OK or that they are not feeling shattered into a thousand tiny sharp pieces on the inside. An hour when they can attempt to speak freely of the darkness of their thoughts with the hope that in doing so creates a connection and healing experience worth living for.

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