My name is Ann, I am 78, a widower, from  North Dublin.  I was sexually abused as a child and have lived with the shame of what happened to me for the past 67 years. If sharing my story will do one thing, I hope it can show people that you’re never too old to get help, and things can get better.

The most important things in my life are my two grandchildren and my cat. Before Covid, I used to make my two grandchildren their tea every Friday evening. They would come straight from college, and it was the highlight of my week. They said it was theirs as well, but with some of the stories, they told me I had some stiff competition. College life seemed so free, they didn’t have a care in the world.

One evening, a few years ago they came bouncing in for their tea, Over chips, eggs, and peas, they told me all about the Me Too Movement.” I listened in awe to them, how they openly talked about abuse, inequality, and power.

I was married with kids at their age, but I didn’t get to grow up, I lost my childhood. It was robbed of me. I was sexually abused from the age of 11. Both me and my younger sister were both abused, we didn’t have a daddy we had a monster.

That night I told them about my abuse.  The first living souls I had ever spoken to about it.

They wrapped their arms around me, 2 pots of tea, and nearly a whole box of Kleenex later, they had a plan. They were going to phone One in Four and get me an appointment for therapy. One of their friends had been there and they had helped her make a statement to The Garda.

The girls had bought me a tablet that Christmas. “You’re a silver surfer now”, Nan they would say. I use my tablet now for my therapy sessions. Thank God they got me it, and Thank God I went to One in Four.

In “LBZ”, “Life before Zoom”, the girls call it, I would go across to Merrion Square after my therapy in One in Four. In was early Spring last year just before the first lockdown, I took out a notepad and pen and wrote a letter to my 11-year-old self. I told her it’s ok, that I didn’t blame her, it wasn’t her fault, that she didn’t need to feel guilty.

I get up early, always have, it's a habit I suppose, Lockdown hasn’t been easy, no more early morning shopping, or making the girls tea on a Friday, but when now  I sleep I sleep sound. The nightmares are gone. One in Four gave me my life back. The girls are right when they say “Nan, you’re living your best Life.” I am getting my vaccination next week. I am going to keep living this best life.

We understand that the trauma caused by childhood sexual abuse can last a lifetime. That's why we are here. With your continued support, we can be here for more survivors like Ann. Please donate whatever you can today.

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