Lifelines: Anne Chilton on revisiting the past

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If you are affected by any of the issues in Lifelines and require further advice, contact Relationships Scotland.

Wound reopened

When I was about ten, someone I knew touched me sexually and I didn’t like it. Afterwards he said not to tell anyone, and I didn’t. I wanted to tell my mum, but he was her friend so I knew she wouldn’t believe me.

That was almost 60 years ago, and I thought I had forgotten about it, but recent news stories have brought it all back. The more I think about it, the more upset I become; I’ve never told anyone, not even my husband or my children.

I had a poor marriage and my husband left me for someone else more than 20 years ago. I know I find it hard to trust people and wonder if the abuse was to blame. I don’t want it filling my head all the time now. I find myself crying at the least little thing. What can I do?

No matter when things happen to us, even if it was many years ago, the upset and pain can feel as raw and be just as distressing when it comes back into our minds as if it happened only yesterday. When bad things happen to us as children we can feel we have to hide it away and keep it hidden – until something triggers us to recall, and this is what is happening to you.

Right now it sounds like you need someone to hear what happened to you and to help you sort out how it has impacted on your life since. There are many counselling organisations that could give you the space to work through your feelings. Please give one of them a call; someone will be ready to listen. Alternatively, you can contact Relationships Scotland and either arrange to speak to one of our counsellors or we can give you details of specialist services in your area.

No excuse

I have been happy with my partner for ten years, and things have been going well between us – until an old girlfriend of mine got in touch via the internet. The ex wasn’t anyone I was particularly keen on. We went out for a few months but I found her possessive. We broke up and she became a bit abusive, but then she disappeared. Out of the blue she contacted me and said how she had missed me and could we meet up for old times’ sake. I agreed, even though I had misgivings, but nothing happened.

That was last month, and since then she has texted and e-mailed continually. It’s a bit flirtatious and suggestive. What can I do? I don’t want this to ruin my relationship.

The first thing you need to do is tell your partner and explain exactly what has happened. The longer you keep her in ignorance of this, the more you put your relationship at risk. This other woman is probably relying on you keeping this secret, so informing her that your partner knows and is seeing all the communications at least sends the message that your contact is public knowledge. Next time you have misgivings about something, maybe you need to take heed.

• Anne Chilton is head of professional practice for counselling with Relationships Scotland (Twitter: @relscot).

The Lifelines column on 11 November was by Pauline Nimmo, not Anne Chilton, as stated. We apologise for this error