Survivors of horrendous childhood abuse in Wigan can receive help from a new organisation which is bringing recovery to the borough.
Empower The Invisible, set up by Daniel Wolstencroft and Rose Latham, will run monthly groups for men and women in the community room at Wigan Fire Station for those who have been through unimaginably harrowing and traumatic experiences.
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Both Daniel and Rose know first-hand what it is like to go through the darkest times as an abuse survivor and now hope to teach others how they can follow the same path to a healthy and successful life.
And they are now bringing their recovery programme to towns across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, with plans to also launch training events for professionals such as the police and social services employees who will come into contact with abuse survivors in their work.
However, Empower The Invisible is also coming to Wigan after online discussion among abuse survivors, which led to the creation of Empower The Invisible, revealed there was a lack of help in the borough.
They also suggest many people are seeking help for side effects of their trauma without being able to deal with the root causes of problems such as alcohol or drug addiction.
Daniel said: “We wanted to set up Empower The Invisible because waiting lists for people are really long. You can be talking 12 to 18 months before you get counselling, therapy or any kind of support.
“It’s about bridging that gap for people like us who slip through the net.
“Rose and I are here in Wigan to promote recovery.
“We use our recovery as a vehicle for people to identify with.
“They say that if we have been through it and come out the other end doing OK then maybe they can do that too.”
Rose said: “People in Wigan are telling us they can’t get support from services. A lot of people with trauma have addiction issues because it’s a coping mechanism, they use alcohol or drugs for self-soothing.
“We need to take a holistic approach to the whole person.
“I know services are stretched and being cut but we’ve spoken to places where waiting lists are two years.”
Daniel and Rose will launch Empower The Invisible at Wigan Fire Station next month with an open day where anyone can attend and ask questions about abuse and recovery.
There will then be monthly peer support groups running, one for men led by Daniel and one for women overseen by Rose.
The first step towards the new company being founded was the preparation of an exhibition of photographs showing the child who was abused next to the adult as they are now.
These were accompanied by a slogan urging the child within the fully-grown person to be more visible so that the trauma they have experienced can be more easily understood.
Rose contributed her story (one of 105 submitted in two months) and after talking to Daniel online the two decided to team up for Empower The Invisible.
Daniel and Rose spoke of the difficulties abuse survivors face, often many years later, with being believed and ensuring others are aware of what they have been through.
Daniel said: “We were supporting a lad a similar age to me, in his early 40s.
“He brought the guy to justice but by that time he was in his 60s and when he stood in the witness box the jury saw an old man.
“They thought he couldn’t have done that to the grown man because of the size of them.
“Basically, though, it was an 11-year-old child standing in that witness box. The case eventually didn’t go any further. We need to create and make change.”
Rose said: “I’ve been very lucky in my situation because I’ve had a lot of therapy for complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Historically we weren’t believed. I first reported abuse aged 15 and was treated really badly by the police.
“After taking hours and hours of statements and going through a medical they told me they didn’t believe me.
“That really seriously traumatised me. They didn’t even arrest my abuser.
“I reported it again 30 years later and the experience second time was completely different. It was much more positive.
“Where there’s childhood sexual abuse there’s usually a level of violence, of neglect, and of emotional abuse.
“The majority of people we’ve spoken to come from really dysfunctional backgrounds.”
The idea behind the support groups is that men and women with horrendous experiences in Wigan will be able to share coping strategies and develop networks of friends to help them through tough times.
Daniel says certain problems, such as flashbacks and nightmares, are very common and someone who comes to the group may learn a different way of dealing with it from each member of the group.
Rose has a law and psychology degree and a teaching qualification and has worked for Child Line while Daniel is also a youth worker and a consultant to the national enquiry on child abuse.
The launch of Empower The Invisible is on July 16 at Wigan Fire Station from 11.30am. The support groups start on July 23 for men and July 30 for women, both running from 11.45am until 1.15pm.
For more information visit www.empowertheinvisible.co.uk