Adam was 4 years old when his mum had a psychotic breakdown and was hospitalised for many months. His dad then looked after Adam and his 6 month old sister, but it was too much for him and he would often binge on alcohol, eventually resulting in Adam being taken into care. Adam didn’t see much of his biological parents after that, and he was moved between various foster placements and care homes for the rest of his childhood. He can’t recall ever seeing his young sister again.
By the time Adam had his third serious suicide attempt in his early 30’s, he had been in prison various times, and had struggled with drug and alcohol for many years. His probation officer was the only person he had ever told about his sexual abuse by other boys, which had taken place various times during his foster placements.
Coming to The Green House for the first time, Adam was terrified and felt a deep sense of shame. He felt he was “weak and worthless” and “wasn’t worth bothering with”. Talking about himself was painful at first for Adam, he found it hard to name his feelings or to believe that his counsellor could be interested in him. While it was clearly very difficult for him, Adam did keep coming to his weekly sessions. He experienced a lot of strong emotions around anger and grief, not only for the loss of his own innocence as a result of the sexual abuse, but also at the long-buried pain at losing his family and particularly his little sister, whom he remembered loving very much.
The shame and humiliation of being sexually abused made Adam “hide in violence and alcohol” and withdraw from people. Through the counselling process Adam recognised some similarities with his dad, who also used alcohol to cope with difficulties. For many years, particularly as a teenager, Adam was “furious” with his dad and “hated him for being weak”. Being abused by male children also left Adam with a deep fear of other males.
For Adam counselling was his first ever opportunity of building a safe enough relationship where he could let himself be deeply seen and accepted. Through it he began to process some of the many feelings he had long drowned in his drug and alcohol use. Some of his rage and grief was expressed and the shame and fear he felt about his abuse had lessened. He showed exceptional courage in staying with the counselling process and allowing himself to begin to find more healthy ways of dealing with his inner world and releasing some of the pain he had carried for so long.
When Adam finished his counselling he reported that his drug and alcohol use was much more manageable and he planned to begin attending a local rehabilitation programme. His anxiety and suspicion of other males had diminished and he no longer felt suicidal.
“Thanks so much for thinking I’m worth it”, Adam wrote on his feedback form, followed by, “maybe I have a chance at a proper future now”.