Read Escaping the Darkness Online

Authors: Sarah Preston

Tags: #Abuse, #Autobiography, #Biography, #Child Abuse, #Family, #Non-Fiction, #Relationships, #Social Science, #True Crime, #Violence in Society

Escaping the Darkness

BOOK: Escaping the Darkness
5.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
For yesterday’s victims and today’s survivors.


  1. Title Page
  2. Dedication
  3. Prologue
  4. Chapter One
  5. Chapter Two
  6. Chapter Three
  7. Chapter Four
  8. Chapter Five
  9. Chapter Six
  10. Chapter Seven
  11. Chapter Eight
  12. Chapter Nine
  13. Chapter Ten
  14. Chapter Eleven
  15. Chapter Twelve
  16. Chapter Thirteen
  17. Chapter Fourteen
  18. Chapter Fifteen
  19. Chapter Sixteen
  20. Chapter Seventeen
  21. Chapter Eighteen
  22. Chapter Nineteen
  23. Chapter Twenty
  24. Chapter Twenty-One
  25. Chapter Twenty-Two
  26. Epilogue
  27. Acknowledgements
  28. Copyright
Sarah’s Story
, I realised I still had words buried deep inside me that were desperate to be heard, words which I knew I had to write so that those sentiments too could have their chance of escape and freedom just as I had. These words carry the next chapter of my life, a chapter that in the main has been happy and carefree. It was this chapter that had the details of how my writing had started and how it was prompted by the memories. This period of my life begins where the last words of
Sarah’s Story
ended and were left silent, sitting on the final pages and waiting for release.
I had thought the only thing that was important to me now was this new life that had been carefully moulded and created for me to enjoy. And yet I remember thinking there were times when important bits of my story had been missed out – not intentionally – they just weren’t as
important as the other incidents that had been at the front of my ‘bad memory’ box. The life I was now living was a new way of living entirely; a full and entire existence, made complete with my husband and our children. My current family had all in turn helped me build a world in which I had become a happy, more relaxed person. It was in this new world that I felt that there was no longer any space or crevice large enough for any bad memory to invade.
But it didn’t seem to matter how hard I tried, or how happy I had become, my past haunted me with such an intensity I felt I had to go one step further and tell you the story of how I came to face the ‘ferocious demons’ that had wrapped themselves up in my life – Sarah’s life – so intrinsically that I felt nothing on this earth was capable of unleashing them. I had to speak out about those demons that had imprisoned me and held me against my will, whilst filling my mind and creating the sleepless nights I found increasingly harder to control. Those haunting demons of my childhood had reappeared suddenly again; they had somehow escaped, after years of being buried deep inside the ‘bad memory box’, which, through time, had been pushed into an even deeper, cavernous part of my mind, from where I believed they could never escape.
An accidental meeting in 1989 made me feel so very much more afraid of these monsters; more afraid than I had ever thought possible.
I felt that I was yet again about to become a prisoner trapped by the one destructive fiend who had once taken all I had…
all I hadn’t yet learned to give…
All those years before.
As you read through these pages, it will become evident that some of the words are not new words. They are the words of Sarah’s memories, my memories already brought to life in
Sarah’s Story
, the first part of my journey. To really move forward I have had to visit the past with a wonderful lady called Bess. She was a councillor who helped me fight my demons. In order to do this I have had to relive memories and talk to her about all the things I lived through as an abused child. It was a further journey with steps on a path I found hard to take. My aim in this book is not to dredge up my old work, but to express my feelings in a way that gives people an insight into what my life has been like, and how I have dealt with these memories that could have quite easily overshadowed and wrecked my life. I am lucky because many people who have suffered abuse don’t get this chance; instead they are overwrought by their memories and what they experienced. I feel for these people so deeply that my insides hurt.
Chapter One
INSIDE MY HEAD I pictured and saw, clearly, my life as it began to quickly resemble a threadbare piece of cloth – falling apart with each new wash, iron and fold. I was at a loss to understand how just one chance meeting in a person’s life could bring all their horrible memories tumbling uncontrollably out of the box again, so that they left that person once more in a weakened, trembling, frightened, childlike state; and in fact unable to capture the terrible recollections and lock them away, before they broke free forever.
Yet it was easy to see how this was possible, when you realise that this encounter was a meeting that would involve the only person I thought could never, ever reappear, especially after almost thirteen years…
As I grew from a girl into a teenager, the abuse I was suffering ruled my life. I constantly lived with two things:
dread and loathing. As a teenager travelling the path into womanhood, I was filled with the dread of what had happened to me and a feeling of loathing of what I had allowed to be done to my body. I reflected on what they, my abusers, had done to me, and had the firm conviction that all the things that had happened to me were somehow my responsibility. This feeling persisted, despite the fact that I was too young to stop the perpetrators from doing all those unspeakable, unsuitable practices all those years ago.
Every second of every minute, every hour of every day, every week, month and year that I lived this sad, shallow, abused existence, I learned to continually and successfully hide my insecurities and anxieties from those around me. I had mastered ‘hiding’ my feelings at school, when at just twelve years old I retreated further in to my shell each day. The only difference in me that people could see was that I had started to bite my nails. Unquestioned by my teachers, I was left to my own devices. Providing that work was appearing in my exercise books and my homework was done, those in charge did not notice anything was wrong. I imagine at that time that I appeared to be just another quiet girl, a child who was not much of a mixer, but no kind of troublemaker, or anyone who needed particular attention of any kind. I became skilled in the art of ‘hiding feelings’, trying to persuade myself as I went through every single moment of each new day that the abuse I was subjected to was in the past, and therefore of no importance.
It never really mattered…
After all, who would be interested in my life and what had happened to me all those years ago?
As far as the outside world was aware, I was just another ‘normal’ young woman living in a busy town, getting on with her life. Yet on the inside I was a ‘tragedy waiting to happen’, the only difference being that the tragedy had happened years before. The only similarity between my past and present was that I was still attempting to figure out how to put those historic emotions ‘back in the box’ before they escaped forever.
What unfolds within these pages is how that one chance meeting made me face up to my life and its ugly past. How for the first time I spoke out about my childhood abuse and then left it hidden until I couldn’t hide it any more.
Sarah’s Story
helped me to come to terms with my abuse and has ended my nightmares. It changed my life so much that I can now readily rejoice at the lightness I feel deep within.
In fact, writing was my newfound therapy, and I discovered that the words flowed so willingly. It was as if I was being carried from a debilitating illness that had held me firm within its grasp, towards the light of a marvellous miracle. With each new step I took I learnt to climb over those tiny pebbles that had once been huge rocks and boulders in the journey I had already travelled, a journey that had begun in my childhood in a time that now seemed so very long ago. As the last few sentences of my story were typed, the dark words created within the ink dried silently; yet inside I knew that what I had previously written was
so controversial and shocking that it would affect all those around me, creating such a vast sadness in those I loved. As I looked down at the manuscript that lay in front of me, I realised I would have to change this sadness into happiness and good humour in each of their hearts.
It had all begun sixteen years ago when I had hidden my abuse so well in my subconscious that I eventually managed to stop thinking about it. It was almost as if my suffering had not existed. In those days there just wasn’t enough opportunity to think about unhappiness because the main focus of my life was my growing children, who unknowingly demanded every saved, precious moment of my spare time. Each one of them in turn joyfully stole every spare second that I had almost managed to recapture and call my own. Yet what had prompted me to remember so vividly? I was so happy. I had a husband, five sons and a normal happy life. I was loved, treasured and valued as a person, wife and mother. In return I gave everything I had to give, lovingly and without question. My life was unique. I had been showered with so much love it would have easily carried and protected me through all the years that lay spread out in front of me. Years I was happy to live and create new, untainted memories in.
So what changed? I hear you ask…
Why had I, Sarah, after more than thirty years, decided to finally set the ghosts free and tell the world about my shocking ordeal? Hadn’t I so far made a good job of successfully burying all those dirty, disgusting, vile secrets deep in my mind, away from everyone that knew me?
What had now brought these secret memories racing at top speed out of ‘the box’? Each secret battling with the next, trying to be at the frontline of my already weak, crumbling defences. What had started this emotional roller-coaster ride that I didn’t have time to take, was the only person, the only thing, I dreaded more than any other reappearing in my life…
Chapter Two
I WAS WALKING through town on one cool, crisp, sunny February morning, and can still clearly remember how happy I was. And as I was casually wandering around the streets I had grown to know so well, looking in shop windows, I could feel the coldness of last night’s frost as it slowly lifted, allowing the gentle warmth of the weak, February sun to reach my face. It wasn’t wonderfully warm weather, as I would have liked, but it was a start, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the sun would gain strength in the short weeks that followed to herald the arrival of spring. I had been in town for about thirty minutes ‘window shopping’ when I looked up and saw the one person I hated more than anyone else on earth, the man whose face embodied the worst horrors I had ever had to endure in my life.
I could not believe my eyes as this horrid little man came clearly into focus just a few hundred yards in front of me. All the time the shock of what – and who – I was seeing before me was becoming steadily more and more unbearable. The first thoughts I remember that day were these:
Why wasn’t he dead?
He was old, so why had he not died?
BOOK: Escaping the Darkness
5.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Writing All Wrongs by Ellery Adams
The Minnow by Diana Sweeney
Memories End by James Luceno
Sea of Slaughter by Farley Mowat
You're Not You by Michelle Wildgen
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
The Book of James by Ellen J. Green
The Darkest of Shadows by Smith, Lisse