Deb Courtney is a client of the centre, not only as a survivor but a “thriver”. Listen to here story in the video below.
Here are just some of the letters and testimonials we have had from clients to share their experiences of the KRSAC.
Thanks so much for everything. For the first time in a long time I’m able to hold my head up high. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and it’s thanks to the brilliant service ye provide.
As much as any words of mine may articulate my heartfelt gratitude to you for your ongoing patience, support, generosity and loving, wise guidance of me every week. I seek your help, nurturing and infinite wisdom – these words sometimes seem very inadequate to do just that. But, as they are my chosen way of thanking you I hope you can feel the sincere sentiment and feelings that come with them. I am forever blest that I was guided in your door, with love and deep gratitude.
Where do I begin…….
My first phone call to the centre, I was so nervous and anxious about what would happen next. Would this phone call change my life completely and turn out to be just as overwhelming as my life was turning out to be … but I had nowhere left to tune. The anxiety and nervousness was constant in my life, my only relief was when I’d put my daughter to bed at night – it was then that I’d sit on the floor of my bed room with my back to the bed and start rocking. It was then that I’d start weeping, sobbing silently making sure I wasn’t waking my daughter.
It had been just me and my daughter for quite some time and even with my decade of sobriety behind me – it was my daughter that came between me and a drink during that period. Even though I had some very kind people in my life then – nobody could breech the turmoil that was under my skin. My back had been bad with sciatica for months – to the point of not being able to drive. It seemed my world was getting smaller and my turmoil larger.
Then I made the phone call to the centre, it was the week before Christmas and I was told I’d be able to some in straight away after Christmas. This gave me hope in knowing that I have done something about it now – I have put some action into it. It seemed to b e a long Christmas but the day finally came. I was nervous but I knew I had to face my demons and I wasn’t making such a great hand of it myself.
As the weeks passed, I settled and became more used to the routine of coming in. Became used of the welcome at the door, of the sense of respect given by anyone who answered the door. It was like they knew how hard it was to face that door continually.
My counsellor was so … everything I needed.
She was able to support me during the times where I had to piece horrific things together and she was able to point out to me how strong I am ( even though I found it very hard to realise my strong points). She laughed with me and was there when I howled with grief … she held me no matter what I felt. She also held me when I wanted to distract myself from the pain and kept me focused.
She helped me with managing my day to day living while going through these stages. How to live, with an abuser still in the outskirts of my life. She helped me with myself doubt and low self esteem. About three months into counselling, I collapsed and was diagnosed with Functional Paralysis. I was totally paralysed and my lungs were failing, but I recovered that episode with the help of my counsellor. I learned that Functional Paralysis is triggered from an emotional trauma relived.
It was during that time that I learned to trust my counsellor – in a way she held me upright when I was literally paralysed with fear of what will be uncovered next. I learned to get support in my daily life, my counsellor separated the ‘predator’ type from the ‘supportive’ type o person in my life – I found it difficult to differentiate (one of the patterns in my life because I was abused).
When I started counselling, I was looking after my invalid dad in the family home. I was around my abuser and dealing with a lot of denial. I got a chance to let other family members know what went on, I faced all this with the help of my counsellor. I learned that even though there is still fear it doesn’t have to paralyse me. I began to see how I could protect myself first – for a change. I had a small girl to look after and a bad back to contend with – how far did I have to go to BE HEARD!!!! So little by little, I slowly learned to say no and began to say yes to myself and my daughter.
As I persevered with counselling I became stronger in myself, I became aware of the amount I can control and the amount I can trust. I learned to ask myself first what I needed. I learned to stop asking for approval from people who can never give it to me – I need to seek it from myself. I learned about friendship and how respect and compassion is needed equally and I learned that success can be based on many factors not just on one factor.
One of the most significant factors that has changed my life is with my partner. I can be open and honest with him and he with me. I am no longer ashamed of what has happened to me. T does not make me who I am today. I am proud of who I am, as a partner and as a mother. I can move forward now, knowing where I have come from and what I have survived to get here. I have faced my demons and have set them to rest for now. I don’t know whether I have to come back, to looking again at this area but now I do know that there is a door I can come to if needs be.
As much as my counsellor was such a significant influence in my moving forward, I know now, that I brought myself to the appointment every week, I did the homework if needed (poems, writings and journaling). It was I who faced myself every step of the way. Saying this is a testament of how far I have come with my self confidence. Yet without the constant understanding, love and support I felt within the hour each week, I don’t know if I would have continued. Yes, courage is needed but I was met each week with the ideal setting for helping me face what I needed to face.
For all of this, I am ever so grateful. You have given me the chance to live my life the way it was intended, without a dark cloak hanging over me … and my journey and my learning’s continues from here…
To all at KRSAC
I never would have known the depth and significance of the work you all do, had I not knocked on your red door one afternoon.
Thank you so much for your work, dedication and welcome – you truly have made a difference to me and hopefully will continue to do so for others.
Every journey has to begin with an initial step and I eventually decided to take mine just over one year ago.
After many years of denial, attempts to address issues and my own enforced ‘acceptance’ of my past, I finally knew that this wasn’t something I could deal with properly on my own.
Sadness was creeping closer to my present and despite my efforts to keep as far away as possible from my past, I knew I was losing the race. It took a complete change in my demeanour – panic attacks /anxiety, for me to eventually slow down and be honest enough with myself to admit this was something I needed to address with help. From my own experience, the hardest part was making the commitment to walk down the path and knock on the door (or as I found out – press the button) and faces the unknown. I never really thought about the truth behind the saying – “the first step is the hardest” until then
And so began my journey. My year of commitment to myself and my well being. I can’t lie or over gloss the experience – yes, it took me a while to learn to be honest with myself. This knotted, frayed, and torn ball of emotions I had kept rolled up as neatly as possible inside me all had to be undone, untangled, unravelled and laid out strand by strand so I could see things clearly and separately for the first time. Not an easy task after 25 odd years of rolling it up and pushing it away. The problem of course with pushing a ball up a hill is that it rolls right back to you each time.
With each thread came little knows that I maybe hadn’t seen or recognised before, and these too had to be undone. Some slipped away easy like untying a shoe lace, others required persistent patience.
As with anything new, I found that you have to be open to the experience. Be willing not to try and show what you know but what you wish to learn. To slowly work backwards, through all the distractions, the incidences, the things I had focused on as part of my issue and eventually end up at the centre of my hurt and pain was something I didn’t expect but have fully learned from. By distracting myself from the actual depth of my hurt I was able to function- not perfectly- but enough to get by. Getting by was proving harder to do.
I had thought that the process would give me the direct answers and the questions that had clouded and tormented me for so many years. The answers to all the ‘why’ and ‘how would it have been’ and so on, but it hasn’t, not directly, I have learned something so much more valuable than simple questions and answers. I have learned to understand myself, who I am. The answers were already within me but I couldn’t access them all the time or when needed.
Rather than wanting to change my past, change my family, change the routines, I have benefited far, far more by changing myself. Not by altering my personality, my goals or ambitions but by finally learning to sit still – allowing myself to simply sit and listen. Think, Relate – and yes – think again! I finally learned to sit with myself as a person and to stop running. To allow myself to be calm and, with trust and guidance, slowly allow my past into my present thoughts. With a lot of work, tears and patience I have found myself both, past and present – merging together as one.
To have to slowly acknowledge the very things I had spent years running away from and to have to sit with them and let them in is something I had feared all my life. With time, help and patience I have seen that it is possible.
I haven’t fallen apart. I haven’t lost my family, friends, even my mind (even though at times I thought it might be possible). I haven’t lost who I am.
What has changed lies within what I have found. A calmness within me that I didn’t think was possible. A clarity for the first time – that helps me identify and deal with my emotions. An understanding of my past with which comes forgiveness towards myself. A safe and protected sadness, what I experienced, lost but have regained. An appreciation, for all my qualities and for those around me who have helped and above all else, I have found myself – the being and whole parts of me that for the first time I am not trying to separate, but rather welcome into my life. A willingness to allow all my experiences to merge together in me – as one.
Yes, I have a story and yes, some may find it hard to comprehend, but it is just that my story, my journey this far. It hasn’t been easy but there have been some great highlights and in balance, some tricky lows. The final resting spot seems to lie not “out there” in what I do, plan or say but silently and calmly within me and that place I can say honestly is a nice and safe place to be.
As for the torn ragged and knotted ball I carried, I still have all the threads. Some are worn, some broken but repaired and tied back together. Others are frayed but determined to hold together with strength. Each thread with its own colour and texture is as important as the next. I’ve taken them all one by one and stitched together a colourful and unique little patch that I am quite proud of. It now sits very tidy within me – keeps me warm and protects me. It reflects me, who I am and is a little colourful quilt of security. It’s something I have made, something I have created and something that I can carry always. My own little tapestry that’s interesting to look at, that is unique and reflective and true, it reminds, supports and reassures me – something for me to keep always.
“How have I been helped by our local Rape Crisis Centre?”
Looking back over the past 18 years, I know that without such counselling my life, and my children’s lives, would have been very different. Those who have survived childhood abuse can grow very much alone, developing harmful ways of keeping the sad bad memories down. I see the counsellor as a real support, as a friend alongside me, and as a safety contact in times of anxious disturbance.
18 years ago we were settling in Kerry, having moved away from my ‘homeland’ for good. Our 5 year old daughter was playing while I tidied up. She was too busy to do as I asked. I was angry, shouting, and about to hit her. Suddenly I realised that I was close to repeating what my father had done to me – at the age of 5. His words exploded in my head; “I’ll teach you a lesson, you’ll never forget.” My little daughter continues to laugh and play, while I froze. Memories were rising up painfully and endlessly. I was in need of help. I spoke with a marriage guidance counsellor, who realised very soon that I needed those trained to help victims of child sex abuse.
Counselling provides time and place for honest reflecting, and a growing strength to deal with issues. How did I cope? Did I develop patterns of hiding away? Why did I eat so little for 10 years from 15 – 25? How do I relate to others in my family? Why have I, in the past, hurt myself? And much more.
My counsellor encourages me to draw out what was in my head and heart. So there I was, tiny and helpless, imprisoned under bars – ALONE. Sometimes I was heaving a burden of stones up the mountainside. And – good news, over time the burden grew lighter, as the stones grew smaller and fell away. I realise now that I’m no longer held down.
Now I recognise my reactions – And I can even smile at them. For many years I was disturbed when in our busy shopping centres, I often heard the child in the buggy crying out: he or she was impatient, restless, and normal. But what I heard was a frightened, pain-filled ME. With the help of my counsellor I was able to recognise and understand what was happening.
What about contact with friends? Despite feeling anxious about a visit I was persuaded, 8 years ago, by a sister, who insisted that I should call on our 90 year old Mother. I spent a week there, struggling hard, understanding nothing. I returned home to Kerry in severe depression, spending two months in hospital, followed by rest. During some relaxing massage therapy I was again overwhelmed by another surge of memories. Again I was guided back to our Rape Crisis Centre.
Now I see how my sisters are sadly damaged and unable (or unwilling) to seek the necessary help. One lives alone, alcoholic, separate from her young family. Another sees her sons leave Britain for good, to settle in New Zealand.
Contact with unhealed family has pained me for decades. Counselling has enabled me to recognise what and how. Now I remain apart from them, avoid weddings, celebrations and funerals. And all is well.
And now, reassuring news. Our 2 daughters are the opposite of all I recall when I was aged around 20. Lots of talk, talk, talk, with their Dad, with me, with friends and with each other. They disagree and laugh and share. Above all they are very close and respect each other. For my children the link with a sad past has been cut. They are free.
Finally, how would I describe the effect of the counselling I received over the years? When I began I was carrying a big loud headline – in red – of my experience. Now these lines are a normal size, alongside the other writing, in the usual colour: they remain there, and are no longer in control of my life.
Thank you, to all who help us.
I am a male from East Africa, attending counselling sessions at the Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre. Firstly let me thank everyone at the Centre, you are great people.
The first time I went into the door at the Centre, the way I was welcomed opened my life again and more so in a new country I did not know.
I wasn’t myself until when I went to the Centre. I was traumatised, disorientated and depressed. On my first visit I felt at home and agreed to attend weekly counselling sessions at the Centre which was walking distance.
Just to let you know the Centre, as a person, I call it my home why because it is the place I feel happy and comfortable to express about anything and I know that the people in the Centre understand. I call it a place for safety and I am not ashamed of what I say.
I have benefited a lot at the Centre, it has changed my life all I can say is a big thank you to all the people at the Centre.
My Counselling Journey
Twenty years ago I left my homeland and arrived in Kerry. From earliest childhood I had been running away from and unhappy “house” (not home) : escaping into hard work, and finally into hospital suffering from severe depression.
While recovering I recognised warning signs. I was easily disturbed. One day a toddler was screaming in his buggy. I felt panic – I was about to seize him and protect him by taking him to our local gardaì or anywhere safe. Why? What was happening? Memories of pain flooded me. I was the child, screaming, frightened, and so alone.
Another warning shook me when our 5 – year – old son created the usual, normal mess in his room. Suddenly – I exploded inside. I raised my hand – about to hit him. Thank goodness something – someone – stopped me. Again the memories flooded me = I was the child beaten, abused, again and again ……. years ago.
Memories haunted me … and I began to face the questions. Why had I felt so relieved, at our wedding, when my father handed me to my husband? At last I was removed from any contact with someone who had given me so much pain. And why did I feel relief when my father died a few days before our son was born?
A wise friend accompanied me to the Kerry Rape Crisis and Child sex abuse Centre. That was about 10 years ago – and it was the beginning of the most valuable journey for me. Week by week I met my counsellor. That journey together has changed my life.
That wise long-term counselling led me along a path of healing, understanding, accepting reality, and now freedom.
No more fear, no more darkness. I am free to live a happy normal life.
I know that without the ongoing support of the KRCC counsellors I would have lived out my abused childhood and my own sons would have suffered. My brothers and sisters sadly passed down to their children the old sad story; now they experience marriage breakdowns, alcoholism, and depression. Their adult sons and daughters have fled – as soon as possible and as far as possible.
Now I understand the value of the counselling we receive from our counsellors at the R.C.C. The sad headlines of my life are now simply the small print at the bottom of the page. And the rest of the page is being filled with normal, healthy life stories. A big thank you to our local KRCC.
When I first came to see a counsellor at the Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre I was confused and doubtful. I was keeping a lot of stuff inside and so it was hard at first to talk. But talking is the best way of dealing with anything and the counsellors there are very good at putting you at ease. They are knowledgeable too and have dealt with a lot of people and all their different situations.
Sometimes people have had many abusive experiences. They may not even be totally sure that they have been abused. Or there may be something from the past that has not been recognised. When I first went it was for one specific situation that I needed clarity about. But that was only the tip of the iceberg and gradually over time I gained clarity about the others.
The counsellors are all respectful, approachable, friendly and compassionate. They may have different styles of counselling and it is up to you to decide which approach suits you. You might just want support with certain life problems or you might want counselling on a deeper level.
The counsellors will give you all the time you need until you decide you don’t need to go anymore. I have been a client for a good few years. My counsellor has been there for me in times when life was very challenging, lonely and sad. I always felt she was on my side.
She also gave me great advice when I was faced with potentially dangerous situations, like bad relationships, which could be harmful for someone who was vulnerable, as I was. She could see the issues that I couldn’t see at all and her advice was good. She made me see that I had choices. I think now that she knows me pretty well.
If someone had told me way back during my early visits to the Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre that I would eventually be contented and married to a good man I really wouldn’t have believed them. I felt unlovable then. I am very grateful to my counsellor for her patience and her kindness and for sticking by me.
The work done by the Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre is so important and I hope that they will always be there, for me, and for others.