A Story of Sexual Abuse and Recovery Through Psychotherapy
By Pam Smart
Key Themes: sustained childhood sexual abuse, mental health problems, social services, psychotherapy, recovery, qualifying as a therapist
WARNING: CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
“Pam Smart has bravely shared her pain in a carefully filtered way. She does not wish to provide more than the reader can bear and she takes great care with the details she provides. Through the work she has done she offers an example that many others might feel encouraged to follow. May the existence of this book remain a landmark for the writer herself as well as the readers!” – Valerie Sinason, Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies
“This remarkable woman has let her life speak here. Winston Churchill could have been referring to her journey when he once said, “if you’re through hell, keep going.” Every psychotherapist who ever thought a case was hopeless should read this book, and get a morale boost.” – Dr Morton Schatzman, psychiatrist
A powerful and often disturbingly graphic book about childhood abuse and its effects in later life. Pam has been through years of psychotherapy to be able to write this book about her harrowing experiences. Certainly not one for the faint hearted.
About the Author
Pam was born in Stoke-Newington in London. She is a mother and a grandmother. She worked as a social worker with Islington Social Services for over twenty years. Pam is now a practicing psychotherapist and lives with her partner and their dog in West Sussex. Pam is happy and settled; family, friends and colleges surround her. However life wasn’t always this way for Pam. She came from a background of horrific abuse, neglect and permanent emotional fear. As a young adult she was diagnosed as incurable and her future was bleak. After years of being mistreated, with the help of enlightened professionals she slowly emerged from a world of confusion and distress to discover her own strengths and abilities. Pam wrote this book to give hope to others with similar stories and to the professionals working in this field.
I now realise just how distressed the children at the children’s home were. We had no adults of our own to be attached to and the attention of the members of staff from the children’s home became very important. Some children were apparently favoured because they were very young or because they made the staff feel valued. There were also individual preferences, Mummy Robins for instance did not like boys and some children learnt to behave in such a way that the staff felt good about them. It is important to remember that staff would have been untrained, ordinary women and men who were of low status. Perhaps it was a job that was taken up because it provided both accommodation and pay rather than because of any love of children.
For myself, as a result of the psychotherapeutic work that has been done with me over the years, I now can see how devastating was the loss of my little friend, Ruthy, who had enabled me to join in the world of children. Once Ruthy left the Hollies I again became isolated amongst the other children. Mummy Robins was the only person to whom I felt close and who in some sense helped me to feel valued, but also made me an object of envy and hatred with other children.
Under the circumstances my gravitation towards my brothers was inevitable. Touch and comfort would have been important to all of us, however it came about because of the lack of warmth in our environment.
I found out many years later that my brother Joe had already been sexually abused by a member of staff in the children’s home, and therefore had a precocious knowledge of sexual behaviour. I am not sure whether Dennis had also been abused.
I find it incredible that the staff were unaware of the physical abuse that was already taking place when my brothers and I went on home visits. We all must have had bruises and marks on our bodies. Corporal punishment was common in those days, but this was at unacceptable level in any time. Perhaps the staff did not want the trouble that it would cause. I think that the culture in the children’s home was such that children reporting abuse were considered to be telling lies.