Paul Ludford – my journey towards healing

Paul Ludford’s experience of childhood abuse has led him to facilitate a monthly men’s group which includes sexually abused men. For more information Paul’s website is APLnlp

It’s taken me 45 years to write this, and even now, I’m struggling to compose the opening line.

My dad is a gay paedophile.

I’m 56 years old, and re-discovered the sexual abuse my father inflicted on me as a young boy in 2008.

Back then, the news featured alleged deaths and abuse in a children’s home in Jersey. A lady was interviewed and uttered the words which woke my dormant denying mind – “touching………..sexual abuse”.

I’d never associated those words together and had desperately buried the discovery of my sexual abuse to the deep recesses of my mind. Looking back now, it was my, (and many other abuse victims), way of dealing with the abused boy whose father was supposed to give unconditional love, trust and support.

It happened in my early teens when I was newly at Grammar school.I heard and saw, the door to my bedroom slowly open. I remember feigning sleep as I thought I’d get in trouble, it being a school night. I heard him quietly creep across the bedroom floor to my bed, his breathing heavy and laboured; I think the smell of tobacco surrounded him. His hands fumbled, desperately finding a way between the sheets to my body.

He groped around trying to find my penis, his hand pushing into the mattress to get access, my legs curled into my chest, the “safe” foetal position.I feigned being disturbed and struggled to turn away from him, to get away from his groping hands.

And then those immortal words called from the bottom of the stairs, “George, what are you doing”?

The tone of her voice, the phrasing of the words – she knew what he was doing……..and she didn’t come to save me. She knew, my mum knew………..and she chose to ignore, chose not to come and investigate, scared she’d find what she knew was happening.

I can’t remember crying; I remember being awake for ages. Bewilderment, shock, did it really happen, did he do what I thought he was doing? The answer to these questions was yes, but I chose to bury what happened. No confrontation with the man who was supposed to love, trust and support me as a young boy.

And over the years, it went away – or so I thought. My dad robbed me of my childhood innocence; he betrayed my trust for his own personal sexual satisfaction. He sexually abused me and destroyed the young boy he helped create. Bastard.

My dad is a gay paedophile.

Over the last five years memories have returned; bedroom doors slowly opening, quietly, and the faceless person hiding behind the door, waiting………bedroom doors slowly closing, quietly, the faceless man disappearing behind………at the breakfast table exposing his penis in the fly’s of his pyjamas, openly playing with himself, disgusting………….the porn mags found in the back of his Lada estate car (yellow), the young boys standing naked in trees, their bodies clean of hair and glistening…………..the gay paedophile.

His Friday afternoon trips to saunas in Gateshead; him disappearing during shopping trips to Newcastle, returning smelling of urine; the naked young boys in his porno mags.

Once a peado, always a peado.

I struggled in his company, and to the day he died he never knew that I knew what he really did to satisfy his deviant sexual pleasure. I knew mum knew, but it was cleverly hidden behind the detached house in the country, the professional husband, the company car, 2.4 children, the dog, church goers, choir members, pillars of the community – a facade of untruths and lies.

He died in January, a lonely, troubled man, and the monkey was finally lifted from my shoulders.

I never had the courage to confront him with the truths, but it took his death to allow myself to let go of the guilt I’d associated with our non relationship; my disgust being near him, the sick hateful feelings touching him. I tried so hard, but struggled to put these feelings aside.With his death the elasticised umbilical cord was finally broken with the support of my therapist, family and friends and I’ve been able to put my life into some kind of understandable sense which is making me a stronger, confident person. These qualities were always there, just deeply buried beneath the pain and anguish of my childhood.

The last thing he said to me before he died was “I want you to go”. This after holding his hand on his death bed and me crying, telling him I loved him and always had (and part of me really did) – I suspect he knew that I knew who he really was.

And as for me now, I work at the peak of my profession, a self assured confident man respected and loved by my family and others around me.

As regards to forgiveness- I’ve forgiven myself for the pain, fear and anger I’ve inflicted on myself and others around me during many years of self-denial. Buried painful memories always manifest themselves somehow and I knew no better until I looked and got help.

Forgiving my dad may come over time, but at the moment I see his self-satisfying sexual abuse of me inexcusable and unforgivable – he took advantage of a young boy for his own pleasure stealing my innocence and childhood. I didn’t have the resources, knowledge and life experiences to deal with the sexual monster my dad was.

However, despite this, part of me still loves him – and I’d like to think, he really loved me, even though our relationship was difficult.

The journey has been long, and is still ongoing, the young hurt Paul still crying for help at times. Years ago these cries were buried and ignored, but are now understood and embraced.

My message to others abused during childhood; don’t give up, the journey may be difficult at times but there are many of us out there who are willing and able to help.

I’ve become who I am because of what happened all those years ago, so in a perverse way I say “thanks dad and I still love you”.