When life crumbles around you – parents, PLEASE have this conversation with your children.

Anna is eighteen, and hasn’t had an easy childhood. Diagnosed with ADHD, she’s been on medication since she was twelve. She’s an intelligent , caring young woman, who has already had more to cope with than most people have in a lifetime, but she was coping with it well and had her future mapped out until the final straw: a sexual assault at work.

The death of her grandfather, followed by the death of her aunt a couple of years ago, upset her terribly. When her mother died from Covid 19 earlier this year, she and her family were devastated. She was staying with her grandmother to keep her company when Covid struck, so she was isolated from her three sisters and her father when the tragedy of her mother’s death occurred. She stayed to keep her grandmother company, which must have been really tough. Her grandmother, having lost her husband and now both her daughters, was understandably depressed, and Anna must have been a huge comfort to her. What astounding courage that young woman has shown.

Anna was coping remarkably well. She had an engineering apprenticeship linked to a day-release course at collage and loved her job. She was good at it. All the family were united in pushing forward and building a future for themselves without the mother of the family in their lives. Not easy, especially as the father suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, but they were getting there, together.

After the assault, Anna left her job as the man concerned was making her life hell. All the stresses and emotion that Anna had bottled up inside and tried to deal with have come spilling out. It was like letting a cork out of a bottle of fizzy water. Anna has become worse than depressed, and the mother she would have normally turned to isn’t there anymore. Her life has literally crumbled around her. She has suffered a psychotic episode, hardly surprising, given what she’s been through this year. Her father, having had experience of psychosis, has sent his other children to stay with their grandmother while he copes with Anna – her screaming and crying isn’t good for her little sister to be around just now. Anna is terrified that if her father leaves the house, he’ll die – and she has lost so much already.

Her psychosis was so bad that at one point, he rang 999 for an ambulance. The call centre, hearing screaming in the background, sent the police as well. Anna was assessed and is receiving psychiatric help. She’s on different medication and has a tentative diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

Her father says the confident young woman who was coping with a job, college, and supporting her grandmother has turned into a ten-year-old child – and maybe that’s what she needs. To be a child again for a while, to be cared for, and that’s what he’s doing to the best of his ability. They’ll get there. As a family they are strong.

That young man has a lot to answer for, assaulting a vulnerable young woman. But bullies always pick on the vulnerable or the physically weaker, because they’re too cowardly to pick on someone who’ll give them the punch in the face they so richly deserve.

And it isn’t only sexual harassment and assault that can ruin lives – and young people have suicided because of this abuse – it’s general bullying, on-line trolls – anyone who needs to make people feel small in order to feel good about themselves. They have no idea or care about the damage they can do.

Parents, PLEASE, have this conversation with your children. I was taught that if I couldn’t say something nice about someone, to say nothing. I have found that if I can do something nice for someone, I feel better about myself. Perhaps if some of these HORRIBLE, VICIOUS, SELFISH people did something nice for someone else, if they reached out a hand of support and comfort, they too would learn to love themselves and have no need to put others down.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to your children, any more than you’d want them to be horrible, vicious, and selfish, so teach them not to do it to others and be careful how you treat others as well. Throwaway remarks about race, disability, and sex, might mean nothing to you, but children learn from their parents, after all… Teach them well; teach them kindness, consideration, generosity, and understanding, for they are our future.


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