Betrayed by my paedophile teacher - how I survived sexual abuse

David Scarfe is founder, group partner and managing director of Preston-based Enduring Mental Health Organisation Group.
David Scarfe is founder, group partner and managing director of Preston-based Enduring Mental Health Organisation Group.
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David Scarfe was abused by a music teacher as a child and spent decades struggling to deal with the impact on his mental health. Now he is helping other victims of abuse.

I still vividly remember 36 years later the feeling of fear and panic on that day, at the age of 13 years old, when I was sexually abused.

It was just a normal week at school in 1983 and I was due to have my piano lesson after classes. I remember riding my bike to his bungalow in Sittingbourne, Kent, where he lived. He opened the door and greeted me just like he always did and I entered into his lounge to begin my lesson. Little did I know on that dark day, what was about to happen.

I sat down and started playing while he watched as usual. All I can remember is that towards the end of the lesson, he sat close to me on the stool and placed his left hand on my right thigh... I didn’t know what to do or say, but little did I know, that was only the beginning.

The next hour or so is as vivid in my mind today as it was back then, and the details are too graphic to write. After the sexual abuse had taken place, he told me he would take me home in his car. I was in a state of shock, frightened and scared.

He put my bike in his car, drove me home and even had the audacity to come to the front door where I was greeted by my Mum.

He even said hello to her, which looking back now, is utterly disgraceful. I remember thinking to myself, “I need to wash. How do I tell my parents?” I went into the bathroom and took a shower to get clean. I remember getting out of the shower and breaking down in tears. I’m not sure if this was because of disgust, or relief that I was home and safe. Was it the fear of telling my parents or worrying what people would think about me when they knew? To be honest, at that moment I didn’t know.

At this point my Mum knocked on the door asking me what was up. She could hear me crying and I remember being afraid, as I didn’t know how to tell my own parents, what that evil man had done to me and little did I know what a massive impact this would have on me in the future. The next few hours are somewhat of a blur to me. The police turned up and I remember sitting around the dining room table and having to give a statement to them. The rest I don’t remember clearly.

There was a court hearing, which I couldn’t attend as I was a minor. The most debilitating thing, on top of being sexually abused, was the fact that his only punishment was 100 hours of community service, which angered me greatly.

Within a couple of weeks, I was walking down the High Street only to see him on the other side of the road and he even had the nerve to make eye contact with me.

In the 1980s, mental health wasn’t really talked about and more often than not the main advice given was “you’ll get over it”.

Over the years since that traumatic event, I sub-consciously suffered in silence. I endured marriage break-ups, I lost a dear friend to suicide and experienced other imposing stresses and strains which just added to the overall mental pressure, which in turn affected my personal and family life.

My mental health was suffering greatly. In 2003 I attempted to take my own life. Thankfully, it failed. I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and at this point I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression) by the psychiatrist. This battle continued, but I just fought it off thinking I would just get over it.

I worked in a senior management position for more than 20 years up until last year, working in UK, Middle East and Africa. I just kept on hiding my emotions thinking everything will go away, to the point where I couldn’t face going to work even. I eventually obtained closure on my teenage trauma, after seeing my therapist early in 2018, when I had my final breakdown.

She was amazing and by placing the trauma in a ‘glass box’ and focusing on my mood swings, triggers and behaviours, I started to see light at the end of the tunnel.

We worked on my bipolar model and after months of treatment, I am now proud to say I’m in remission of bipolar affective disorder. This is achieved by using a combination of mood stabilisers and coping techniques.

Founding Enduring Mental Health Organisation (www.emho.org.uk) in 2018 has been part of my self-therapy and is the passion in my life which I wake up to every morning.

The organisation is a one-stop mental health care service and solution provider.

We provide professional products and services to increase the awareness education and support of mental health and; wellbeing into our communities, not only in Lancashire, but nationwide. I want to publicly express and share with as many people as possible that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know some men find it difficult to open up (I was one of them) to our inner feelings but the help and support is out there, all you need to do is “shout for help”. I am like many others, who are there for you.

Never give up and keep on going. We will not let mental health overcome us. We need to control it and not let it control us!

* David Scarfe is founder, group partner and managing director of Preston-based Enduring Mental Health Organisation Group. www.emho.org.uk