No More Silence – Jean’s Story

Jean Rochford is a member of the Healthwatch Essex Trauma Ambassador Group, and the founder of No More Silence, a group of people who have been sexually abused as children. She has been sharing her story with us.

“I was 51 when I first disclosed to a professional, my GP, about the abuse I had experienced.  They told me that I had two successful sons and was married, so to go away and get on with it.  I still had the determination to ask for a counsellor’s name as I was sure that was what I needed, but my fear of who or what I should be looking for made me anxious.  The GP did give me a name and a telephone number and the questionable advice that if I ever used the counsellor, I would be worse off than I was now! This delayed my healing, and I never went back to that GP. Instead, I joined a group of survivors in the nearest town who had all been abused when they were children. I learned so much by just meeting others and listening to those who dared tell their stories.  I discovered how many of the survivors there were damaged by the way agencies had dealt with them.

“I searched for help in the area I was living and went round and round in circles for two years and lost hope. It felt like we were the people that nobody wanted to talk or listen to. This is how we came up with the charity name, No More Silence. This is a peer support group of people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. The group formed to offer a friendly, empathetic ear and provide a safe space to talk.”

Working with other survivors, Jean had the idea of an exhibition which could be taken to different venues, to highlight the stories of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and raise awareness in communities.  Members of the group share their stories in this exhibition, through photo portraits illustrating the different ways they have coped with the impact of abuse. Some of the people featured in the portraits will be at the event to share and talk, debunking the stigma surrounding this subject. The aim of this event is to give people a voice and encourage others to take the first steps towards speaking out and finding help. Jean explained how the project has developed,

“Last year we took the portraits to seven venues, one being the House of Lords. So far this year, they have been to three locations, including the University of Essex. It’s time to start speaking out about childhood sex abuse. We are all aware how important it is not to feel you are on your own. We are all so much more than our trauma. We want the conversations to start.”

If you would like to access support around any of the issues mentioned in this blog, give the Healthwatch Essex Information & Guidance Service a call on 0300 500 1895, email [email protected] or text/WhatsApp on 07712 395398.