A Parents experience of AF support

Ground Zero for me was 11th November 2015, it was the day my world as I knew it, had fell apart.  A bomb had gone off in what I thought was a fairly good life and all that was left was devastation, hurt and loneliness.  I had a loving husband, supportive family and friends but all I felt was pain.  As a mother, I found it hard to accept that I was unable to protect my baby girl from the suffering she had endured.  My daughter was only 14 and I wasn’t there for her when she really needed me.

 My daughter didn’t blame anyone.  All she wanted was not to be reminded of her unfortunate experience, so the only request she had for me was to act ‘normal’.  Can I just say ‘normal’ was the hardest thing she could have asked from me at that point but I tried.  During the day I would be a mother, a wife, work full time and do school pick-ups and drops off as normal, but at night all I wanted to do was question why, what I could have done to avoid it and cry.

 In pure desperation for answers, I searched for some kind of support, help, and understanding, anything that would help me to make sense of what had gone on.  I needed to understand what I was feeling and how I could support my daughter when I didn’t know how to support myself.

 This is when I found Acts Fast, it was only a couple of weeks after ground zero but by then it had felt like I had been suffering for an eternity.  Shrapnel of my life before ground zero lay scattered around.

 I left my contact details and my call was returned within a day or so.  Mandy from Acts Fast was a calm, welcoming voice of reason in my life, which had by that point become an uphill struggle of chaos and only just functioning.  I was offered a time slot to visit Mandy at a local Children’s Centre have a cup of tea and a chat.

 From that very visit, I felt validated, understood and supported. Acts Fast helped me find exactly what I needed.  Over several months, I met some amazing, strong women going through the same struggles I was, helping each other understand the whats and the whys.  Having people who truly, deeply know how you feel and why, brings you some kind of peace.  With the support, the love and kindness Acts Fast have provided me, I have been able to support my daughter in a way that she requires and understand what she has been and will be going through.  

 Unfortunately for us, my daughter’s case didn’t have the outcome, we had hoped for due to the lack of evidence. We felt let down and deflated by the system.  With the help of Acts Fast, I was able to question the Dorset Police & Crime Commisioner in the way my daughter’s case had been handled.  My daughter was given the opportunity to voice her experience to the Chief of Dorset Police.  Although the outcome couldn’t be changed, Acts Fast helped us every step of the way to get my daughter the validation she needed, in the way of an apology and a promise to much needed local change. It is a small step that could not have been faced without the support of Mandy at Acts Fast.

 With Acts Fast by my side I have felt strong, I have been able to forgive myself for not being absolutely everywhere at all times and for not being able to prevent what had happened.

 Slowly but surely I have been able to find pieces of shrapnel and put them back together, not necessarily in the same order as before but feeling more whole as time goes by.

 I feel I have gained true friends in the people I have met at Acts Fast and can’t imagine, where I would be now without them.

Funding Boost – DPCC Press Release

“We are extremely pleased and thankful to be supported and commissioned by the Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). The OPCC, and Martyn Underhill in particular, have seen the vital and valuable work Acts Fast has provided families for Dorset over the last 4 years. They recognise the huge impact child sexual abuse has on the parent and wider family.

When your child discloses they have been sexually abused we liken it to a ‘bomb going off’ and the shrapnel hitting everyone around. At Acts Fast, we provide that much needed ongoing support for the parents, carers and family members.

With the commissioning of our services we are able to continue to help families affected by child sexual abuse.” Mandy Gulliver CEO & Co-Founder.

 Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University and Chair of Trustees at Acts Fast said “We are very grateful for this funding. It will help secure the immediate future of Acts Fast and enable our CEO to focus on ensuring our long-term sustainability. We work hard to provide the support that families need, but we cannot do that without funding.

Children who are sexually abused are far more likely to be at risk for a lifetime of mental health problems. Acts Fast help reduce that impact by working with the child and family as they navigate life after abuse. We will continue to seek funding to ensure that we are able provide that support.”

The figures you asked for over the last couple of years are: 65 referrals, 38 hours of email support, 26 hours of text support, 109 hours of phone calls. Drop-in and one to one counselling started in Poole and Dorchester from April last year and Bournemouth from January 2018: 270 hours of Drop-ins and 104 hours of counselling.

“I desperately needed to speak to someone who would understand what I was going through and to hear of Acts Fast was like a lifeline for me.  Mandy was able to understand the rollercoaster of emotions I was on and helped me understand that I was not alone and she would be there to help me through in any way she could.  I knew nothing of how to go about getting help for my daughters but with Mandy’s help was able to find a wonderful psychotherapist to help with all of my daughters. Sometime later, my daughters wanted to share their story and with Mandy’s help, they were able to help raise awareness with their story in the Bournemouth Echo.  My eldest daughter has also been to speak to governors on the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board to discuss what she feels should be done to help other children like her.   From this meeting she has been asked to help design a helpline poster so that all children are able to recognise sexual abuse and relate it to what they are going through.  It is also hoped that she will be able to help in making a video that could be used in schools and through Acts Fast. 

None of this would have been possible without the help of Mandy so I feel strongly about Acts Fast and the support they provide, and funding it needs, to help carry out the much needed work that they do”

Dorset PCC Police Blog

Comment from Dr Andy Mayers

Reporting by Daily Echo

CSA – NSPCC Awareness Raising Campaign

Mandy of Actsfast has been instrumental in helping the LSCB launch a NSPCC Awareness Raising Campaign and has also supported the family of the teenager that spoke out. To read the full reports in local newspapers follow the links below:

CSA / NSPCC PANTS Campaign Launch Event – 1st May 2018

Bournemouth Echo – New Campaign To Warn Children About Sexual Abuse

LSCB Website – NSPCC Awareness Raising

This ‘Wall of Silence’ is highlighting the impact of child abuse on survivors – and they want you to see it

Luke Hastings, Bournemouth Echo

BOURNEMOUTH University hosted an “extraordinary” conference to highlight the impact of child abuse this week.

In partnership with child abuse charity Acts Fast, the university held the conference alongside an exhibition called the ‘Wall of Silence’. The wall showed images and stories to show the impact child abuse has on its victims.

Among the conference speakers were Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill and the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell.

Survivors, parents and support groups also spoke about their experiences of child abuse and there were discussions about how to try and prevent it.

Chair of trustees for Acts Fast, Dr Andrew Mayers, said: “It was extraordinary to hear the stories. This is absolutely essential. It’s demolishing this wall of silence, where you can’t talk about these things. The exhibition and conference are making it ok to talk about child abuse and helping with the impact of it, whilst raising awareness around it.”

CEO of the Southmead project, who created the wall, Dr Mike Peirce, said: “The exhibition not only highlights child abuse, its impact and the suffering this causes, but also the sheer determination and doggedness of those affected in trying to overcome the aftermath of that abuse: self-harming, substance misuse and sadly, attempts – sometimes successful, to take one’s life.

“Being believed means so much to so many; by their actions in staging this exhibition, the team is giving voice to victims and survivors and are a credit to themselves, Acts Fast, Bournemouth University and the concept of an inclusive, caring society.”

One speaker, Sue Crocombe, was abused as a child and her story appears on the wall.

She said: “I understand that people will feel uncomfortable about the idea of viewing an exhibition on the impact of child abuse. But, as survivors, we want others see it.

“We want them to hear our voices speaking out, breaking the silence of this taboo subject. This exhibition is not just about our pain, losses and confusion. It’s also about our strength, resilience and pride in having survived such a terrible crime.”

The conference and exhibition took place over two days last Monday and Tuesday, with approximately 70 people attending the conference.

Wall of Silence: Breaking the silence on child abuse

In July, Bournemouth University and Acts Fast will be presenting Southmead Project’s ‘Wall of Silence’, a display of images and stories that share the experience and impact of child abuse. The exhibition has already been shown across other towns and cities, including Bristol and Northampton (see http://southmeadproject.org.uk/wall-of-silence/). The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference.

Child abuse leaves a trail of destruction that pervades entire families, the impact of which lasts a lifetime. Yet, victims and survivors find it hard to talk for fear of judgement and disbelief. This powerful conference and exhibition will teach us how we can encourage victims and survivors that it’s OK to talk, and explore how victims and survivors can be supported.

Among the conference speakers will be Mike Peirce, MBE (CEO, Southmead Project, the creator of the Wall of Silence), Martyn Underhill (Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner) and Angus Campbell (Lord Lieutenant of Dorset). Other speakers will include survivors, parents, and support groups.

The exhibition takes place July 11th and 12th, 10.00-20.00, at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus. The conference takes place on July 11th 9.30-16.30 (on the same site).

Dr Mike Peirce, said “The exhibition not only highlights child abuse, its impact and the suffering this causes, but also the sheer determination and doggedness of those affected in trying to overcome the aftermath of that abuse: self-harming, substance misuse and sadly, attempts – sometimes successful, to take one’s life. The display has appeared at many venues across England and Wales and whilst raising awareness of the problems encountered by survivors and victims, it has crucially given them a voice. By bringing the exhibition to Bournemouth, the organising team are being entirely open in how they view child abuse and they are clearly demonstrating their belief and desire to help those who have this experience. Being believed means so much to so many; by their actions in staging this exhibition, the team is giving voice to victims and survivors and are a credit to themselves, Acts Fast, Bournemouth University and the concept of an inclusive, caring society”.

Mandy Gulliver, Acts Fast CEO said “I attended the exhibition at Bristol, and was keen to bring the ‘Wall of Silence’ to display in the South. I approached Bournemouth University, whowere more than happy to accommodate such important work. Acts Fast is passionate to keep highlighting the huge impact child abuse has on an individual, and their families.”“The conference will highlight the ongoing impact all family members have, following an earth-shattering disclosure of sexual abuse from their child/children. The need for ongoing support for the child/children and their families is paramount and need addressing, the trauma the family endures is wholly underestimated” Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, is Chair of Trustees at Acts Fast. He said “We know that child abuse has a huge impact on the victims and their families. Most children who are abused go on to experience a lifetime of mental health problems. Abuse is one of the biggest predictors of acute mental illness.” “We need to raise more awareness to prevent abuse and grooming (that precedes abuse). We also need more support services like Acts Fast to tackle the impact and reduce the devastation of abuse. However, we cannot do that without funding. This is our biggest challenge at Acts Fast.”

One speaker, Dorset-based campaigner Sue Crocombe, has been involved in several presentations of the Wall of Silence. Abused as a child, her story appears on the Wall. She said “I understand that people will feel uncomfortable about the idea of viewing an exhibition on the impact of child abuse. But, as survivors, we want others see it. We want them to hear our voices speaking out, breaking the silence of this taboo subject (at last). This exhibition isnot just about our pain, losses and confusion. It’s also about our strength, resilience and pride in having survived such a terrible crime.”To book (free) tickets to attend the conference, go to https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/wall-of-silence-victims-of-child-sexual-abuse/.

Tickets are likely to go quickly. To read more about the exhibition, go to https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/exhibition-wall-of-silence-victims-of-child-sexual-abuse/. There is no need to book; just turn up. For more information on Acts Fast, please call 01202 797 217 or visit www.actsfast.org.uk. Donations, to support the work at Acts Fast can be made at http://www.actsfast.org.uk/donate/

Wall of Silence Exhibition

From July 11th, Bournemouth University and Acts Fast will be presenting Southmead Project’s ‘Wall of Silence’, a display of images and stories that share the experience and impact of child abuse. The exhibition has already been shown across other towns and cities, including Bristol and Northampton (see http://southmeadproject.org.uk/wall-of-silence/). The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference.

Child abuse leaves a trail of destruction that pervades entire families, the impact of which lasts a lifetime. Yet, victims and survivors find it hard to talk for fear of judgement and disbelief. This powerful exhibition will teach us how we can encourage victims and survivors that it’s OK to talk, and explore how we can help support victims and survivors.

The conference, takes place on Tuesday July 11th, 9.30-16.30 at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus (Fern Barrow, Poole BH12 5BB). The Wall of Silence will be available to view by the public, 11th and 12th July 10.00 until 20.00.

Among the speakers, will be Mike Peirce, MBE (CEO, Southmead Project, the creator of the Wall of Silence) and Martyn Underhill (Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner). Other speakers will include survivors, parents, and support groups.

 

Download Wall of Silence flyer

Conference Poster

Three Girls: It may be closer to home than you think

Press Release: For Immediate Release

As BBC One shows the true-life drama “Three Girls” you might be thinking that this harrowing story of child sexual abuse was unique and isolated. Sadly, children are still being abused, and groomed for abuse, all across the UK. Locally, Acts Fast, a Bournemouth-based charity, provides support across Dorset to non-abusive families, parents, carers and children who have been affected by sexual abuse.

As the story unfolds on TV, Acts Fast is likely to receive calls from people looking for support, or perhaps wishing to disclose that they have been abused, or know someone who has. This distressing account is likely to draw on memories that might have been suppressed because it has been too painful to talk about.

Mandy Gulliver, Acts Fast CEO said “The bravery to speak out about your own child abuse must be commended. The strength it takes to come forward, to tell someone, must not be underestimated, not only to the brave individuals of Rotherham but to all the other individuals out there who have done so, and to those that are still suffering either at the hands of their abuser or silenced through fear.”

“Highlighting how truly rife child abuse is in this country must always be kept in the forefront of people’s minds, to reach as many people suffering as we can. The physiological scars that are left following abuse can lead to a debilitating way of life, clouded in shame and guilt. I can’t stress enough the support and understanding individuals and families need when faced with this devastating life-changing reality”

Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, is Chair of Trustees at Acts Fast. He said “As a psychologist specialising in mental health, I am acutely aware of the impact that sexual abuse in childhood has on a lifetime of mental health problems. Many adults with acute mental health difficulties have experienced childhood abuse. One of my roles at Acts Fast is too look at how we can help victims, and their families, survive the mental health fallout.”

“However, we cannot do this work without support. We need funding to help us provide that support. We are also always keen to talk to volunteers and potential trustees to help us carry out that work. If you feel you can help us, we would like to hear from you.”

For more information on Acts Fast, please call 01202 797 217 or visit www.actsfast.org.uk. Donations, to support the work at Acts Fast can be made at http://www.actsfast.org.uk/donate/

Robert Montagu becomes Patron for Acts Fast.

robert-montegu-photo

Robert Montagu becomes Patron for Acts Fast.

Acts Fast, a Bournemouth-based charity providing support for victims of child sexual abuse, and their (non-abusive) family, is proud to announce a new Patron. Robert Montagu is a highly respected psychotherapist, based near Weymouth.

Having been an importer of wines, pottery and ceramics for 25 years, Robert retrained as a psychotherapist (aged 50). He worked in Child and Adolescent mental health for the NHS before going private in 2007. He started the Family Counselling Trust to help families on low income in the south west, so that they could have access to high quality counselling for a range of emotional issues, at a cost they could afford. In 2014, Robert published a book ‘A Humour of Love’ drew on his experience of being sexually abused as a child. In that book, he revealed a sexual relationship that he had with his father, starting from the age of seven. It was that experience that has shaped much of his professional work, and his desire to be associated with Acts Fast. Since the publication of the book, Robert has combined working as a psychotherapist with families, extending the work of the Trust, and campaigning for the introduction of mandatory reporting of sex crimes against children nationwide.

Robert Montagu said “I hope that small charities such as Acts Fast that help promote such reporting in communities like Bournemouth continue to spread throughout the UK and will bring pressure on Government to act fast and reform the law”.

Mandy Gulliver, Acts Fast founder and CEO, said “We are extremely proud to announce and fortunate that Robert Montagu has agreed to be another Patron for Acts Fast, supporting the crucial work we do”

Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University and Chair of Trustees for Acts Fast, said “It is a great honour for Acts Fast to have a Patron with such standing as Robert Montagu. It is commendable that he has chosen to use the terrible experience he encountered as a child to make a difference for future generations“.