My greatest pride centres around my sister, Caryn Walker.
I'm the eldest of five. When we were kids, I often had to act like a parent. Apparently, I even used to run school classes for my siblings (register and all!). I don't remember that or most of my childhood as it is blocked due to what happened to us.
Our parents were abusive. Particularly, my stepfather, Caryn's real father. For me, it was being hit with cricket bats, soup ladles and later, fists. For Caryn, it was sexual abuse from the age of eight. She thinks this happened to me too but, as I said, it is blocked. I have a few hazy memories which may suggest it but early childhood is just a blank otherwise. Later on, I do remember the constant beatings and the ever-present fear. I used to escape into books or, when I was old enough, to my Nan's house.
Our other sister, Jenny, was taken into care at a young age. The reasons are murky. She ended up dying at 36 due to heroin abuse causing a brain embolism.
Caryn took the brave step to first, tell the family about what happened and then, unbelievably, to report him and take him to court. I went back to England in 2011 to be part of the court case as a witness. He was found guilty on 23 counts and put away for 16 years.
This was a huge turning point for Caryn. But, it wasn't enough. Though it took a few years she realised she hadn't had the closure she had thought she would obtain. She was starting to feel a burgeoning strength, a voice she had never had. She decided to go further and try to help others in similar situations and to give voice also to our sister, Jenny.
So, with the help of a wonderful ghostwriter, Caryn wrote a book, dedicated to Jenny. It was published last year and has been doing very well, now being translated into a few different European languages and as of a couple of months ago, finally available over here in the US.
Caryn has been interviewed by newspapers and radio, given book signings and talks at little cafes and the like and now has been invited to speak at public events for organisations such as Shatter Boys/Shatter Girls UK.
She has been inundated with positivity from people telling her how she has given them the courage to take steps for their own situations. Over and over she is thanked by people.
This is what it was all for. This is why she had to get it out there. This has given her the closure she needed. Turning a horrific negative into a helpful positive and growing that strength into a woman who will not be quiet or silenced (some of the family have tried to) and will dedicate herself to helping others.
Despite everything, Caryn has always been a warm, friendly and helpful person who people adore. Until her revelation, nobody (including me as I just don't remember) had any idea of the struggles she had and was still dealing with due to her start in life. She has attended Pride events and has always been supportive of me since I came out at 17 (when my mum asked me and then I was subsequently thrown out).
With her help and encouragement I am now getting my own treatment for what Caryn was diagnosed with last year and now talks about - CPTSD, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is not as widely known as CPTSD but originates with systematic and prolonged trauma. She is educating and reaching so many people.
She might be younger but I have always been in awe of her strength, particularly with regard to the above. I doubt there is anybody I will ever feel prouder of.
As Caryn says, if you tell your own story, it could one day be a guide for others.
Thank you for reading.#hernamewasjenny#cptsd