A story of personal trauma facilitating positive growth, despite the heartache

This blog follows from a  previous one on this site called ‘The day I cried non stop’..

I am blessed to have several wise and experienced clinical and organizational supervisors who support me in the role of Director of a growing charity for traumatised families. They help me with both the emotional challenge of supporting vulnerable families and all the consequences of that and also the structural developments and changes that are ongoing.

In one session with a supervisor, I was exploring the irony of the traumatic four years of harassment and stalking that I have experienced since starting the charity, which has led to relocating our family of six to a new area and working with the police since the arrest of my stalker and the bail period of 8 months.

Throughout my profession and the professions of my supervisors we all live with the stark reality of the rarity of prosecution in most criminal cases. We work with many families who have, for example, clear evidence of sexual abuse or assault who have never had the relief of even having their cases being reviewed by CPS let alone the victory of any prosecution. It is known that few abuse cases are reported, fewer still are investigated and even fewer are taken to trial. In stalking cases, approximately 5% of cases are reviewed by CPS and only 1% of those end up in court, out of over 2 million cases being reported. The statistics will be revealed this weekend in The Independent Newspaper (Easter Sunday 2015).

My case was rejected by CPS on the basis that the worst of the criminal behaviour of my stalker was in 2011 before the change in stalking law at the end of 2012 and the awful events is also deemed as ‘historical’ as evidence needs to be within 6 months of the incidents. This is an example of the law that obviously needs changing. I also believe that there needs to be a radical transformation in understanding of this growing crime. We have seen over the last 20 or so years a growing understanding of the impact of sexual abuse and an awareness of the complexities of the court system in these cases. More recently there has been a growing awareness of the impact of human trafficking and laws are changing to reflect that. Soon the impact and trauma of stalking and especially continual cyber stalking and harassment will be understood and the laws will continue to change to reflect it.

It was important to go to the police, despite the incompetence of the law as too many other women had been hurt by this stalker and as women we need to join together for our voice to be heard and to work towards justice.

Why do I feel peaceful about CPS not taking the case despite the 8 months of intense investigation?To answer that I will answer the question one of my supervisors asked me; ‘If your stalker and his group had not continually harassed you what would you have done over the last four years?’

My answer was that I would have run a small charity and made sure things were simple and easy! Instead I had to keep expanding and developing and making sure that everything we did was excellent because when you are facing utmost challenge you either shrink back or press on. Standing still is not an option.

We would NOT have moved to the most idyllic house and place on earth. We had to move to escape the awful atmosphere of slander amongst this small group of people in Bath but as a family we have never been happier commuting in to work and living a ‘normal’ life at home.

I would NOT have taken our four children out of their schools and risked new schools and new friendships but their new schools far exceed any school experience they had in Bath and they are the happiest they have ever been.

I would NOT have developed the TRC to include twice as many clients as in 2011 as it’s easier to stay small and comfortable but expanding was necessary as I know what living with trauma is like and I have found an answer so we need to help as many families as we can.

I would NOT have expanded to include the project Oakside Education Centre as although I have always wanted to facilitate an answer for these most troubled students to feel safe and recover, I would have avoided the extra responsibility had it not been for the fact that I needed to keep expanding to avoid running away.

I would NOT have agreed to speak in many different places such as the House of Lords and many schools and trainings centres, as I would rather be with my own children in the comfort of my own home. But I needed to keep meeting new people to remember how small the group of stalkers really is.

I would NOT have written a ‘parenting the traumatised child course’ as we would have made do with the parenting course we were using but I needed to make sure we were the best we could be.

I would NOT have written another book about trauma as it takes commitment and time to write a book but I needed to help the schools that are supporting the traumatised children and it may help in Bath to have my name associated with other things other than the gossip and slander and lies that I would hear from this small group.

I would NOT have started another centre in Bristol as that also takes time and commitment alongside courage for the extra funding required. It’s a big responsibility to take on extra clients and ensure that we are consistently excellent in our practice. But I needed to extend beyond Bath, the city where the birthing of the charity had been so painful.

I would NOT have become a trustee for another trauma charity as that requires extra work and travel, but does enable me to see more children helped on a national basis.

I would NOT have written a course that equips people to effectively help traumatised people as it takes effort to work out the core components, but its been proved to be effective and will enable 1000’s of other children to get intelligent support that brings recovery.

I would NOT have met the most amazing people in our new community who we now do life with had we not been forced to leave Bath. I adore these new families and feel so blessed to have them in my life.

I could go on but the point is that despite the heartache of having to live with the confusion of knowing that a very, very small minority of those who I thought I was helping have turned on me and chosen to support my stalker with lies and slander, I feel that this has been yet another season of pain where the manure has brought significant growth for others and for our family. The turmoil of discovering new slander and new impact of that slander is almost unbearable at times but despite this, there is a principle that all things can work together for our good and I personally believe that the manure that is thrown at us can be transformed into an opportunity. I have to say that this has been the case here. This doesn’t devalue the pain and turmoil that I have experienced but merely expresses a decision to use the pain to motivate more positive growth… images

I am still left with enormous pain and heartache but my healing will come as it has done for my children since leaving Bath. Our staff and leaders who ache too will know freedom as we see so many other families come into new freedom. The key principle in reframing my experience is forgiveness and I forgive those who seek to harm me. I also know that the bitterness that fuels them will be difficult to live with and I hope that they will someday see the light and seek to move on themselves. Meanwhile I choose to focus on the work that I have been given to do and my precious family who now know more freedom themselves and will seek to see the justice system change for all who need protection.

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3 Responses to A story of personal trauma facilitating positive growth, despite the heartache

  1. rachelbanham says:

    Thank you for your courage. Beyond inspiring, a privilege to read.

  2. Amazing blog; well done Betsy- so proud of you and your ongoing courage and determination to see many others restored, despite the horrendous circumstances of the last few years.

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