THE SEXUAL abuse Jim suffered as a child cost him his job, two marriages, three children and nearly his life.
But through rehabilitation, counselling, volunteering and a newly found faith, the 51-year-old has finally been able to put the past to rest – and even forgive his abuser.
Jim – not his real name – was a happy-go-lucky child until, aged nine, he was groomed by a man who lived nearby.
Every week for seven months the man, then in his mid-20s, would take Jim to a secluded place and make the boy perform a sexual act upon him.
The man would ‘reward’ Jim with some chips or sweets and tell him never to speak of their relationship.
At the age of 11 Jim began to drink and by 18 he was drinking heavily to block out the horrific memories.
“I was on a downward spiral,” said Jim. “I became a secret drinker and would have a few pints every night.
“The drinking just made it worse because it makes you think about it more.”
Despite his growing drink problem, Jim managed to hold down a job and had a family without ever revealing his dark secret.
But eventually Jim’s past and his addiction caught up with him and he lost everything.
Years were spent alone drinking and ruminating.
Jim said: “I was drinking six to seven cans of 9% lager every day. My hands would shake in the morning. I was always alone. I had no friends.”
After decades of alcohol abuse Jim suffered heart failure, kidney and liver problems and contracted diabetes.
“The doctor told me if I carried on drinking I would die,” said Jim. “But I still carried on.”
Five years ago Jim decided to get help and registered with Kirklees Lifeline which provides support for addicts and alcoholics.
Three years ago Jim checked himself into a detox centre for 10 days and ever since he’s been almost dry.
Jim said: “At first I didn’t touch a drink for six or seven months. I’ve had a drink since but nothing like to the same extent as before.
“I’ve been dry for a year now.”
But to stay on the straight and narrow Jim needed to confront the root of his problems.
For decades Jim had kept the abuse he suffered as a boy secret.
But it was through counselling at Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (KRASACC), which opened three years ago, where Jim finally was able to accept what had happened.
“Once a week I had one hour’s counselling on my feeling towards the guy that did it – and it helped,” said Jim.
Volunteering to help those who had helped him also enabled Jim to move on.
He now volunteers for Stonham which provides support and accommodation for vulnerable people.
Jim says: “It was meeting other people and taking about their experiences. It’s a difficult subject to bring up but it’s helped me big time.”
And it was faith which carried Jim across the last hurdle.
Jim said: “I learned to forgive him. It was burning inside me and I thought: ‘Why should I let this control me?’
“I’ve never been a religious man but now I go to church every Sunday.
“There’s no resentment anymore.
“I wanted to do this story to show people that you can come out at the other end. You can do it – but it takes time. It’s taken me 40 years. Now I’m as happy as Larry.”
For more information on KRASACC visit: www.krasacc.co.uk or call 01484 450040.
For details on Kirklees Lifeline call 01484 353333.