Q. What effect did the Life Education Qld program have on you? What difference did it make to your life?
A. I met Healthy Harold through the NSW education system, I was a member of Bellingen Primary School and roughly around the age of 12, the age I am not precisely sure of though.
Ultimately it was the education delivered through life education that enabled me to identify as a victim of child sexual abuse. This came through the message, and jiggle of "My bodies no body's body but mine, you touch your own body let me touch mine." I lived through these acts of abuse sensing the act was wrong, however, until that moment I didn't know it as child sexual abuse.
I believe education to be the greatest measure any parent could take in the prevention of child sexual assault and encourage them to seek a program out.
Q. Please provide a bit of background to your situation growing up...do you know how long you were sexually abused? Can you tell me who the abuser was? (or we could just say a family member or family friend or teacher or whoever it was?) What age did the abuse start? Did finding out that what was happening to you was wrong to give you the courage to speak out?
Please click HERE to read my blog, Children of Virtues (courage).
Also, it was a family member, someone trusted, as is the case so very often. The courage I needed was to lie to this person's face and convince him that I would not tell anyone.
Q. What effect has the abuse had on your life? Is that directly linked to why you began drinking alcohol?
A. The impact mentally of the abuse was lesser for me as a child due to not completely understanding it. Unfortunately, as I entered my teens and adulthood, I started to realise more about what had happened but could not process it correctly, or relate to it due to the time that had passed. It was as if I was trapped in my child body but trying to process it in an adult mind whenever the memories arose.
My drinking was mainly a result of my ego, need to be wanted and the centre of someone's attention. The memories of abuse fueled my addiction on occasions. However, it was not the only factor. As a functioning alcoholic, I was never going to begin the process of finding peace with my past and addressing the person I had become and also the evil I had suffered as a child. The two lived in harmony as I lived in chaos.
Only after finding complete honesty and directing it inwards was I able to start and change my life for the better. After choosing to enter sobriety, I was able to also address the historic case of child sexual abuse. This gave me a degree of closure and the ability to find peace through consciously speaking out about my addiction, abuse and mental health issues to help others as I continue to help and evolve myself.
A lot of other social issues can form as a result of child sexual abuse. These include addiction, suicide, mental health issues, PTSD, and an array of others. As a country, we must continue to focus on the prevention, treatment and aftercare of these issues and our people. As adults, we must be accountable for our actions and seek education, help and treatment for our issues. Children must be given every chance to grow up in a safe and loving environment, and we must lead the way through being the example.
Q. What was the reason you turned your life around? I see you are now three years sober?
A. Yes, I am three years sober.
Jack Gibson wrote, "Would the boy you were, be proud of the man you have become?" I was not proud. I did not respect nor like who I had become and needed to change it. I had suffered enough; I was mentally and physically exhausted. We will all face rock bottom at some point, I had hit it and needed to surface again.
Q. Why is it important to be an ambassador/campaigner for child safety?
A. I can never know how someone else is feeling as a victim of child sexual abuse, but I do have an understanding. It is this understanding that creates a connection, a bond. By making myself vulnerable through sharing my story, I may just save someone's life through the realisation that they are not alone.
Q. Outline what you spend your time doing now? Do you have a job/trade/profession?
A. I am currently on long service leave from the Australian Army and then proceeding on discharge, December 2017. I will be looking to start a new career in 2018.
Q. What are you doing in Peru?
A. I have just completed a 254+km self-sufficient stage race through the Amazon Jungle in Brazil. I was fortunate enough to pick up second place and have been taking in some sights in Sth America before travelling to New Zealand in November. Ultrarunning has become one of the foundations on which I build my life. I initially used it to focus my attention away from my past and alcohol, however, It now provides me with so much more. I could talk all day about this subject, however, maybe save it for another story.
Q. How old are you?
Where do you live?
A. In Peru at present, NZ in November. I sold all my belongings to travel. I only have my van in Australia which has everything I need.
Q. Do you have a family of your own (partner, kids?)
A. I have a girlfriend Liz, who I met competing in the Bravehearts 7 marathons, in 7 day's, in 7 states this year. She also travelled to Brazil to compete in the Jungle Marathon picking up second place female. She is a strong supporter of the prevention of child sexual abuse and a children's campaigner for a better quality of life.
Q. Anything else you would like to add or feel relevant, please do!
A. I can not stress enough how the education I received as a child allowed me to act and prevent any further harm. No parent or child is exempt from this evil entering their lives. Don't ignore it, keep the conversation going and take some advice from Bravehearts, educate, empower and protect our kids.
People can contact me or read more about my journey by visiting www.soberstrides.com or by following @soberstrides on Instagram.