Tuesday 12 December 2017

Finding the light amid the darkest childhood memories

Good counsellors can help victims of sex abuse cope with the inevitable lows

Gabrielle Cummins says Sheila Vereker at the Waterford Rape and Sexual Centre gave her the strength to get back to work. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Gabrielle Cummins says Sheila Vereker at the Waterford Rape and Sexual Centre gave her the strength to get back to work. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Gabrielle Cummins

One of the hardest parts for sexual abuse survivors is coping with the guilt. Frequent struggles occur with questions like: "Could I have avoided what happened? Did I play a part in allowing things to go on? Was it my fault?''

I distinctly remember an incident 15 years ago. I was producing a local TV programme in Waterford at the time and one of the news features of the show that particular week involved covering the latest annual report from the Waterford Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.

I was standing in the centre interviewing the then manager, the wonderful Sheila Vereker, about the report when a flashback came at me, completely out of the blue and I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit. Professional, journalistic instinct ensured that I kicked into survival mode and continued with the task in hand and went on to complete that week's show.

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