I BELIEVED I DESERVED TO BE MISTREATED
by Janey Godley
Janey Godley, 44, is a stand-up comedian and playwright and was abused as a child.
She now lives in Glasgow with her husband Sean and daughter Ashley
Sweet Pea, where are you? I hid further behind the bedroom door,
trying to flatten myself against the flowery wall paper. In the background
the Beatles were singing their latest song, I breathed quietly. Living
in the small two bedroomed flat in Glasgows East End, it was difficult
to avoid my uncle David. He was my mothers younger and much adored
brother. He was about 12 years older than me and my abuser, smiling
and playing the favourite uncle - a role he relished.
I did feel terribly isolated at times and would feel dirty and bad. I told my big sister about the tickling my uncle had been doing that I hated and she whispered to me that she knew what I meant. He had been abusing her also. She told me we should try to keep away from him at home. This was so difficult as my mother would get him to baby-sit us.
I think I believed I deserved to be mistreated. I even hurt myself at times. I used to tie my hair into little knots and pull them out and leave bald patches (I still sometimes do this and have to consciously stop myself.)
mum could be very loving, but when I told her about the abuse when I
was around seven years old, she recoiled in sheer revulsion yet she
hissed a stark chilling warning to me: If you tell your daddy,
he will kill your uncle and daddy will go to prison; is that what you
want? I knew I would have to stay quiet. I let that pain of abandonment
just leak through me and walked out of the room with a deadened, neglected
spirit that truly has never fully recovered.
an adult, my relationship with my mother was one of silent lies and
a legacy of mistrust. I loved my father and always knew he was there
for me. He kept my faith alive that good men were out there.
met my husband very young; we were teenagers when we married. He encouraged
me to speak out about the abuse. I thought he would have been repulsed
by it all, but he reminded me that my uncle took nothing from me and
that I would always be a whole person.
later I called my sister out of the blue and just mentioned how I felt
about my uncle and the whole story came flooding out. We revisited the
pain that day and both of us have always tried to support each other.
She told me she thought if she let him abuse her he would leave me alone.
That one statement cut deeply into my heart; to think my sister had
in some way sacrificed herself as a child hurts me deeply and to this
day I lie awake and silently cry at the horror of that lost innocence.
My life has never been one based on pain or sadness, though. I love life and always loved looking at the weird and wry side of that. Despite my past I still feel I had a happy childhood; it was not all horror. Being a comic and standing on stage gives me a surge of completeness that is hard to put into words. Making a crowd laugh will always lift my soul. Thats who I am and nothing can touch that or make it dirty or bad.