The television news and television dramas tell me that it still happens, that children are still being abused, physically, sexually, starved, beaten, even locked away. I know what I went through during my childhood and young adult life. And what I still go through. One just goes through each day, taking it as it comes. And at the back of my mind, I've always known that there were others like me. Not exactly like me, perhaps, but there were those who had also been abused, confused and struggling with their feelings.
If not for this homepage, I would never have come across other people with similar experiences. Since 1997, when I first began the original homepage, I've received emails that told me of another's struggles and questions and even heartache. It was amazing to me how a simple homepage could elicit such response. And it still amazes me.
During a lackadaisical afternoon, I sat and casually went through past emails. Then it was no longer casual. I paid more attention to what I was reading, realising almost at once that most of them were written from the heart, whether or not they themselves were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Some were quite detailed, some were brief. But their message was clear.
I had wanted to help. And though it was no consolation to know that there were so many other people in the world who had been through similar experiences, it was gratifying to know that I had helped in some small way. And wasn't that what I wanted?
As I got up and walked away, I thought, "I am not alone." And that thought, as simple as it was, did something to me. It wasn't some great discovery or a revelation. I'd always known that. Amidst my own struggles and feelings of inadequacy, those words from total strangers still helped to comfort me.
And why did I need comforting?
Because every once in a while, I do. Admittedly, I do. Even though nothing is said, not to anyone else, and perhaps not always expressed in the homepage, there are moments every now and then when I am comforted. I wanted to tell them that they were not alone. And I'd often wondered if that was too cliched. Surely they knew that already, I thought.
And yet their words, at the most unexpected moments, can sometimes reach down and lift away the burden. The burden is not too heavy but weighs me down, nonetheless. But, you see, I hadn't even realised that there was such a burden until it was lifted. And that feeling - even if it was only for a few moments - came to me when I said the words, "I am not alone."
There are others like me, with similar or different stories. Sad, most definitely. But also true, most surely. Why would such a thought have that effect on me even now?
I don't know the answer to that. Maybe it's something an incest survivor like myself needs to be reminded of ... every once in a while. And it does make a difference. It is a statement of fact. It is a reminder. And I think, that afternoon, that I needed that gentle reminder.