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My name is Geoff, and this is my story

I am 50 and I survived PTSD

Hi, it has taken me a long time to have the courage to tell my story. Now is the time and I'd like to share it with people who understand the daily battle.

I had a pretty normal childhood, the eldest of three, mum and dad did everything they could for us on dad's wage. I was never really close with my dad, I didn't want to follow in his footsteps as a plumber, which I think disappointed him at times. I always wanted to be either a police officer or join the airforce.

Around the age of 18, I was introduced to a Catholic priest. This priest, I thought at the time was fantastic, he had a pilot's licence and offered to take me flying on occasions. Always after flying we would go back to the church, have a coffee and a yarn and it was just awesome. I'd met someone who inspired me.

I must stress now, I have nothing against any religion or church, for the record I'm not a Catholic.

Anyway, this one day we went flying and then back to the church. When we got back to there, he asked me if I'd ever seen a dead person. Being 18, I hadn't. We then went inside the church where they were setting up for a funeral and this priest opened the coffin. I won't describe the condition of the lady in the coffin, may she rest in peace.

I was shocked, and he must have picked up on it. I remember going back into the rectory with him and having a glass of wine.

The next thing I remember was waking up, naked on a bed, with him naked beside me.

My survival (flight or fight instinct) kicked in, I grabbed my clothes and left. I went home, I remember having a shower and just not knowing what to do or say, I was in a fog.

What just happened?

I'm and 18 year old guy, my masculinity has just been ripped away, I felt ashamed, betrayed, angry, shocked, and exploding on the inside with a range of other emotions and feelings. This in-turn led to depression, health issues, trust issues which in turn led to friendships being ceased, relationships falling apart and a host of other stuff.

Anybody reading this who's been in that same horrible boat, will probably relate. For people who haven't been in that boat, it's not a pleasure cruise thats for certain!!!

After the incident, I never told anybody about what happened, not even my parents. I held onto this secret for 10 years until I read a story in the paper about a priest being investigated for sexual assault of boys in the parishes he been at. I knew who it was straight away.

I broke down at the kitchen table and told my parents what had happened – all I'll say is that was the second worst day of my life. What I had just told my parents broke them, shattered their world into a million little pieces. I can still to this very day see the look and hurt in their eyes, the tears and uncontrollable sobbing.

I then rang the police and gave them a formal statement. This was one week before I entered the police academy as a recruit. Imagine that, a new recruit, a new career and having this heavy weight of a secret inside you.

So cutting a long story short, it wasn't till several years later I built up enough courage to contact the investigating officers and asked what was happening with my complaint. I was advised they were building a brief of evidence and my complaint was part of it.

The next thing I heard (several years later) was my complaint was dropped as the priest had died. I figured there'd be no closure, no knowing what really happened that day – I was now at a pretty low point in my life, my first marriage had gone in the bin and I was left holding the bag and paying all the bills etc.

I wasn't motivated at work, I was suffering mentally and physically. Whilst I was working on a murder case, the wound really opened up. I broke down in the court room during the trial and ended up in a screaming heap in front of everyone. I'll spare you the full details, it wasn't a good situation.

At the end of trial, I'd found the bottle and well for a couple of years, I have no idea how I did it, managed to do my job and hide this secret in the cupboard.

I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty in-between bits, however, a couple of years ago I was on a Peer Support Officers course and one night during a group session, let out 30 years of the most horrid time in my life.

I didn't sleep at all that night, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Moving on, I've been diagnosed with Chronic PTSD, Depression, Anxiety and host of other things. I've got a compensation claim going through the system at the moment. I must say it's not about the money, all I'd really like is an apology and some closure. I want to move on.

Yes, I'd considered suicide on a number of occasions, had the means, had the intent, had the time. But, I'm not giving in that easy, I'm a survivor!!!!!! If I could see that priest again, I'd say thanks – thanks for making me the strong, moral, ethical, positive person I am today.

Yeah I have my ups and downs, I've got a lot more to live for. I'm still a police officer and proud to serve the community.

With the support of our family, friends and other survivors, we can win this battle.

If you enjoyed Geoff’s story, send a bit of encouragement in the comments section below or share this story with others.

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  1. Bah!!! I don’t want to admit it but here goes, I too experienced sexual abuse as a child. Am I over it? No. I still hurt myself to this day, for that and other complex reasons. But thank you for telling your story, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel and maybe I will tell my story….in time. You’re quite an inspiration to me. Thank you. I dearly hope your life is better now. You deserve it to be.

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