‘I wanted to die’: Effects of an abusive childhood
NOELENE Shepherd had a tragic childhood of abuse. But her real issues began after the abuse had stopped.
The 76-year-old Kingaroy resident said the aftermath of her sexual abuse was far worse than the actual events.
"I only wanted to die," she said.
"I had years of cursing every morning because I woke up."
The effects of the childhood abuse have meant Noelene has found it hard to function in everyday life.
"I have had a social phobia for many years," she said.
"I would peek through the curtains to see if there was someone out there.
"If I did see someone, I couldn't speak. I couldn't get a word out of my mouth.
As a teenager, Noelene used alcohol to numb the pain and it helped her suppress the dark memories of her sad childhood.
While she has seen many good counsellors and psychologists along her heartbreaking journey, Noelene still struggles with her emotions to this day.
Her abusive childhood meant relationships in later life also suffered.
"I was married to my husband for 25 years and I never once told him I loved him," Noelene said.
In fact, even now in her seventies, Noelene is struggling with the aftermath of the abuse.
"I haven't been this bad since the early 2000s," she said.
"I fell in a hole about ten weeks ago."
One of the symptoms of her trauma is significant memory loss.
"In recent times I didn't know what day of the week it was," Noelene said.
"I would have to look at the calendar to see what day it was.
"I have written notes all over the place," she said.
"The first note was, 'get out of bed and get dressed'."
The brave sexual abuse survivor is happy to share her harrowing story even if it helps one person.
She encouraged anyone going through a similar ordeal to seek help and speak out.
"Find someone to talk to," Noelene said,
"Don't be frightened of going to a counsellor or social worker."
"Go two or three times and if you're not hitting it off with them change and see someone else," she said.
"You can have some form of life."
She said while her childhood was less than ideal, she would not change it.
"It has made me a far better person," Noelene said.
"I like who I am and I know I have helped many people over the years."
Noelene will be participating in the Reclaim the Night event and town march on Thursday, October 24 to raise awareness of victims of sexual abuse in the South Burnett.
The event starts at 5pm outside the Kingaroy Town Hall forecourt.
For more information go to the South Burnett Sexual Assault Action Group Facebook page.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.