Becca’s story: “When I finally talked about it, I felt liberated.”
When Becca* was just 14 years old, she was groomed and then abused by a family friend, Kevin*, who came to live with her family. He was 15 years older than her. “Even after he left, he kept messaging me and asking me to send him nude photographs. He started mentioning very explicit things that I was not comfortable with, but I assumed it must be okay because he was older than me and knew better.”
“Just after my 15th birthday, he turned up and then tried stuff on with me which I wasn’t expecting. I distinctly remember not wanting to have sex, but we did it anyway because he kind of pushed it.”
She says it was great to feel wanted but she didn’t actually like having sex. “I remember every single time, I just wanted it to finish so we could cuddle afterwards,” Becca says Kevin was “paranoid” about anyone seeing messages from him, and stressed that no one could know because he would go to jail.
A few months later, Kevin was selling drugs and got Becca so high that he raped her. When she confronted him, he admitted that he was in a relationship with someone else, and that was the last time she saw or heard from him. She finally told her Mum about it, who was really shocked and angry, but didn’t know how to support her.
“It left me feeling EXTREMELY alone, lonely and shattered. I had low self-esteem and was very underweight and then bulimic due to the stress. My parents’ response was to leave me alone because they thought I needed space, which just made everything worse. And I think that my family was probably subconsciously blaming me for what happened.”
Becca started seeing a counsellor at her school because of her eating disorder. “I didn’t really understood what counseling was. I initially went to counselling because of my eating disorder, but now I realise it’s all to do with what happened to me.”
In her last year of high school, Becca finally called the police, who suggested she contact HELP Auckland, and she began having regular counselling sessions with us. Our youth therapy sessions are tailored for young women, providing a safe space for them to explore and understand their thoughts, feelings and experiences, with someone who understands.
“Many people give counselling one shot and it doesn’t work, but it can take you some time to find the right person for you. I was very lucky when I came to HELP that the first counsellor I was assigned with happened to be great. I feel very lucky.”
Becca says that talking to someone outside of her family really helped her to navigate the situation. “It’s helped me to acknowledge and come to terms with what happened and that it was actually abuse.
“Through the sessions, I have gained emotional awareness and education – coming to counselling is like going to university for your emotions. I now realise it is so important to have therapy as soon as possible rather than waiting: the earlier you go the easier it will be to recover.”
Becca says that the counselling has helped her learn to be more compassionate – and to have healthier relationships. “I am still learning and sometimes it’s difficult, but if I hadn’t come to HELP, I think the cycle of being abused in every relationship would have continued, I really believe that. I am now in a healthy relationship and I don’t think I would have been able to do that if I hadn’t been in counselling.”
* Names have been changed to protect identities.