Anybody in North Wales who needs support with sexual abuse issues should ring Stepping Stones North Wales 01978 352717 or visit the website at www.steppingstonesnorthwales.co.uk
A young man who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a predatory paedophile has urged other victims to seek help.
Dean, 28, not his real name, has finally got his life back on track with the help of the Stepping Stones North Wales after years of blaming himself.
He says it is vitally important that other survivors do not suffer in silence like he did for far too long.
The support provided by the charity, which was established in 1984, is available free of charge to adults who have been the victims of sexual abuse in childhood.
With the help of funding from the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, the charity has counsellors working right across the region.
In addition to the regular financial support he provides to organisations who work with abused victims in North Wales, Mr Jones has accessed an extra £238,000 from the Ministry of Justice to help them cope with the extra challenges caused by the coronavirus crisis.
As a result, Stepping Stones North Wales has received an extra £29,750 to support clients on their waiting list, which has enabled them to offer more sessions for counselling and compensate for the lost fund-raising opportunities.
According to Dean, he suffered a great deal of trauma as a child and his life spiralled totally out of control after his mother died when he was just 11 years of age.
He said: “My mum suffered multiple sclerosis. My dad, an alcoholic, was never on the scene and we’d lost contact with him. I was only 11 and was my mum’s main carer. She went into hospital for what was supposed to be respite but caught an infection and died.
“I was devastated and my brother and I moved in with my grandparents. My mum had been adopted and her adoptive parents became me and my younger brother’s legal guardians.
“Because of what I’d been through with mum I never thought of myself as a child. To me I was all grown up which couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“I’d accepted I was gay at about age 12 and never tried to hide it. I was open and honest with everyone. That led to horrendous bullying and I lost count of the times I was slapped.
“The verbal abuse was relentless. It affected my brother more as he had to get used to having a gay brother and all the abuse that came with it.
“Aged 13 I thought of myself as an adult and able to make my own decisions. I met a guy in an internet chat room and was basically groomed. I know that now but at the time I thought I was in control.
“We arranged to meet and I started sleeping with him. I was 13 and lonely. I was desperately trying to come to terms with my homosexuality which is not easy aged 13. A friend was aware of what was going on and told the police
“This man, who was in his mid-30s was arrested, charged and jailed.”
Dean says his problems mounted as he spent more and more time in internet chat rooms.
He added: “From the age of 14 it happened over and over again. I wanted affection and someone to love me.
“I met more and more men in the hope of being loved for who I was but as soon as they got what they wanted, I’d never see them again.
“I got to 17 and was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. I had horrendous mood swings and was abusing drugs and alcohol.
“The problem was that I didn’t know anyone and soon fell into a bad crowd and ended up doing more and more drugs. I was using weed (cannabis), coke, illegal highs, speed (amphetamine), basically anything other than heroin and crack, I always stayed away from those.
“I ended up with a partner and we got a flat but it never worked out. I split with him and found another partner who was abusive. I suffered for around 18 months before I got him out of my life. I moved in with another new partner but again it didn’t work out.
“Then four years ago I met my new partner who I am now married to. He got me off drugs but the mental health issues remained.
“That’s when I heard of Stepping Stones North Wales. Right from the off things were different.
“I felt I was listened to. No one judged me or rushed me, we went at my pace. I learnt to understand that all I’d been through when I was a young teen wasn’t my fault, I was a child and it shouldn’t have happened.
“We talked through the issues and the therapy worked. I began to learn why things happened and where I’d gone wrong. I stopped feeling guilty. Stepping Stones North Wales helped me to live without pain.
“I don’t need counselling any more. I have my husband and his family and some amazing friends and work colleagues. I work for a charity and am so happy.”
Stepping Stones North Wales Volunteer and Events Manager Shirley McCann says Dean has survived through his own strength and courage.
She said: “Dean has done fantastically well. He’s now in a loving relationship and is working. He’s respected and has regained his self-esteem. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Dean, it never is for any survivor, but it’s a journey he took through his own courage. I’m incredibly proud of him and all he has achieved.
“Without the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner we couldn’t reach the number of people that desperately need our support.”
Mr Jones said: “Dean’s story is heart-breaking. Sexual abuse is a serious crime that has long-lasting consequences for victims.
“However, thanks to the work of Stepping Stones North Wales counsellors and the Next Step Group he has come out the other side and has made a new life for himself. He has found the happiness he deserves.
“Sexual abuse is a hidden crime and something we, as a society, need to address.”
Anybody in North Wales who needs support should ring Stepping Stones North Wales 01978 352717 or visit the website at www.steppingstonesnorthwales.co.uk
Posted on Monday 30th November 2020