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.
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