27th October 2021

Geoff Thompson and Andrea Martinez on forgiveness, self-preservation and surviving sexual assault

Marina Cantacuzino talks to Geoff Thompson and Andrea Martinez – both victims of child sexual abuse. Geoff Thompson is a filmmaker, prolific author and martial artist. Andrea Martinez is an actress, talk show host and young mother. Their connection comes through having had a profound conversation a few years ago when Geoff was able to offer Andrea support and advice in dealing with the trauma.

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Show Notes

Geoff Thompson lives in Coventry, West Midlands and is an author, playwright and BAFTA winning screenwriter as well as one of the world’s highest ranking martial arts teachers. He has published 50 books including Watch My Back, Notes From a factory Floor and The Divine CEO. His most recent feature film, Retaliation is currently receiving great acclaim in the US: it is a muscular biopic about the metaphysical power of forgiveness.

Read Geoff’s story

Episode Quotes

“That is when I started to discover that this anger, this rage, this dissonance, this deep self-loathing could be used as a fuel, it could be clean. I could channel it and put it into a training session into a piece of writing, into a piece of theatre.” – Geoff Thompson

“I blamed him and I blamed everybody but once I started to write about it and started to really go into the depths of it I realised that I had to go beyond blame and I needed to clear it out.” – Geoff Thompson

“I can take responsibility for what has happened in my life since then to a degree and clean it but I won’t take responsibility for what somebody else did to me. But, by the same count I won’t hold hate and I won’t hold anger and I won’t hold rage and I won’t hold the need to seek revenge because that just entangles me with him more.” – Geoff Thompson

“I needed to take myself back to that pure place. What happened when this guy abused me was he stole something of mine, an innocence, a part of the soul, whatever you want to call it and the only way I was going to get it back was to forgive him, to give him over. I wouldn’t get it back with revenge and anger.” – Geoff Thompson

“For a few years I didn’t even understand how I would be able to forgive them until one day it just clicked. One day it just clicked for me that if I forgive this person and then I no longer have to feel bad all the time and that I am able to free myself from them.” – Andrea Martinez

“You feel like by forgiving you may be weaker but it is the complete opposite when you are able to forgive it just gives you a lot of strength within yourself.” – Andrea Martinez

“The problem isn’t the forgiveness. The problem is with the misunderstanding of what forgiveness is. Once you have forgiven properly you will know because you will feel compassion. It doesn’t condone what people do. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to prison. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to court.” – Geoff Thompson

“I can make changes in the world by making changes in myself.” – Geoff Thompson

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Transcript

Marina: Welcome to the F Word – a podcast series that examines, excavates, unpicks and reframes Forgiveness through the lives of others. I am Marina Cantacuzino, a journalist from London, Founder of The Forgiveness Project Charity and I’ve built my career investigating how those who face the most complex and devastating things in life find a way through.

Each episode I will be talking to a guest who has experienced something very difficult or traumatic in their life but who rather than respond with hate or bitterness has embraced or at the very least considered forgiveness as a response to pain.

My guests today have completely separate, but similar and very difficult stories. They are both victims of child sexual abuse.

Geoff Thompson is a 60-year-old BAFTA winning writer, film maker, prolific author, spiritual teacher and martial artist.

Andrea Martinez is an actress, talk show host, and a young mother.

The connection comes through having had a profound conversation a few years ago when Geoff was able to offer support to Andrea who at the age of 16 was struggling with the abuse that had happened to her. They met and worked together since when Geoff wrote a screen play specifically for Andrea and Geoff has also written a play called “Fragile” about his own personal experience as well as a more recent memoir called, “Notes from The Factory Floor”.

Well, hello Geoff and hello Andrea. It is wonderful to have you both join me today for a conversation. Before we start I just wondered where you were both speaking to me from.

Andrea: From London, today

Geoff: From Stratford upon Avon

Marina: Well, that’s great, you are both so welcome. Now, I know this conversation is going to be difficult for some people but I also think it is an important conversation to have and I hope it will also be helpful and even encouraging.

So, if it is OK with you, I want to dive right in and ask what it was that brought you together. Can I perhaps start with you, Andrea and ask how it was at the age of 16 that you reached out to Geoff to help you find a way through or well, maybe it was the other way round, and maybe it was Geoff who reached out to you?

Andrea: Yes. What it was I was sexually abused at a very young age so when I was about 7 and then that had quite a big impact as I got older. I went through a little depression and when I was aged 16 it was kind of going on for a few months and like nothing was helping. And I remember my mum she got therapy for me, I was going for counselling and hypnotherapy and a lot of different things and nothing seemed to be getting to the root of the problem or making anything better. Geoff was actually quite a good friend of my stepdad, Paul, and he had kind of gone through something similar and they thought oh maybe if we get her to talk to Geoff then she might get something from it.

So, one day he came round and we had a really deep conversation about it and Geoff said something to me which was really important that I remember him saying, “It is unfortunate that we have to go through these things but it makes us special because we are different we are able to help other people with it or we can use it in various artistic ways”.

And then I remember him asking me if I was interested in any art, if I had any talent and that was when acting came back into mind for me because I always wanted to do acting as a kid, but when I moved to England there was quite a big language barrier for me to do acting, so I forgot about it for a long time. It wasn’t until we had that conversation that I then really thought to really push for it and really go for it because with acting it can be very healing.

Marina: Thank you, thank you for sharing that, Andrea.

Geoff, can I come to you now and ask how it was that over the course of the years you developed enough resilience after your own terrible experience of abuse to be able to not only offer Andrea support but also many others by sharing your story of repair and rejuvenation so publicly. So, basically, what was it that enabled you to get to this place where you had enough resources to reach out to help others?

Geoff: Well, very similar to Andrea, I was abused when I was young. There is more of the grooming in the gaslighting that affected me. That was what created the problems for me afterwards. Not so much the abuse but the confusion afterwards, the self-blame, thinking it was my fault, thinking that somehow I had led him on. That obviously is part of the grooming. It took me a long time to unpick that.

I, too, suffered with a lot of depression. I had this kind of innate need to be creative but I think this parasite inside me that this guy had implanted, this negative cognition, this abuse, so this inner dialogue always told me I wasn’t good enough to be creative. “Don’t get above your station. Who do you think you are?” I would be battered by the internal monologues that I kind of almost set up to defend this negative parasite that was in me.

So, I suffered with a lot of depression. I was very aspirational. I wanted to sit down but then nothing would come out and then I would talk to other people who would basically mirror my inner voice. “Who do you think you are?” So, this created a lot of depressions. There was a lot of self-abuse going on at the time which I wouldn’t have recognised at the time as self-abuse, physically hurting myself, sexually hurting myself. These are things that I have spent a long time exploring so that I could talk about it and clean it.

But they were going on in the background of my life and nobody knew about it only me. So of course these things were going on and they were also creating dissonance and also creating self-hatred, self-disgust, you know. So, the depressions got worse and worse and then in the middle of one particularly bad depression I connected with something much higher.

I felt this rage rise up, this anger and I thought I have got a wife, I have got children. I am not going to live my life under the demeanour of this fear. I didn’t even understand where the fear was coming from so I had no idea what it was. I had this instinct to sit down and write down everything I was afraid of with the idea that if I could clear all the things I was afraid of I could live my life in peace and be creative.

That is when I started to discover that this anger, this rage, this dissonance, this deep self-loathing could be used as a fuel, it could be clean. I could channel it and put it into a training session into a piece of writing, into a piece of theatre. I could put it into a conversation. It could be clean. So I started that process of, I suppose you could call it, individuation from the Jung philosophy with the idea that you are bringing up what is in the unconscious and presenting it to the conscious mind.

Marina: So I just want to add something here because Jung’s Concept of Individuation is really interesting but it is also pretty complex. Individuation is the journey towards understanding ourselves and I suppose at its highest level it is the art of personal transformation which may of course happen whether we want it to or not in that life itself pushes us to grow. But the process of individuation benefits most from approaching life like a quest which is exactly it seems what Geoff was trying to do, first through martial arts and then through writing.

Geoff: And I was doing that first of all through physical training which gave me some outlet but it didn’t touch the depths. It was when I started the creative work, the writing that was when I really started to get at it. Eventually I was able to go through all of the usual things you know, like I blamed my mum. I blamed my dad for not protecting me. I blamed the police for not putting this guy in prison. I blamed him and I blamed everybody but once I started to write about it and started to really going into the depths of it I realised that I had to go beyond blame and I needed to clear it out.

There is a lovely saying in the Kabbalah. It says, “If you would forgive somebody firstly injure them”. What it means is before we forgive them or give them over to reciprocity we have to first injure them. In other words we have to destroy their story. You have to go in and go, “I wasn’t complicit in this. I was just a child. This wasn’t my fault. I was a child.” As I say in my prayer I was 11. “I was 11. I was 11. I was fucking 11”, excuse my language. That’s what the character said in the prayer. For dissonance I was only 11, so I can’t be to blame.

So I injured my parasite by destroying the story, by destroying the grooming, by destroying the gaslighting and saying I can take responsibility for what has happened in my life since then to a degree and clean it but I won’t take responsibility for what somebody else did to me. But, by the same count I won’t hold hate and I won’t hold anger and I won’t hold rage and I won’t hold the need to seek revenge because that just entangles me with him more.

Marina: So, did that mean that whereas before you had been somehow inextricably linked and bound to your abuser and now you could somehow release him or be reconciled with what happened?

Geoff: Yes, absolutely. What I can do is recognise that there is a law of compensation and I can give him over to that. Over a long period of time that is what I discovered. But, the outlet and the discovery and the revelation came through me being brutally honest.

You talk about how I was able to reconcile with this. I recognised that unless I was literally a pin in the crab shell pulling out the last remnants of this it was always going to be a piece of it remaining. So, I not only got rid of it or exorcized it, I actually cleaned it. You could say I laundered it. I boiled this energy up and I cleaned it and I have made it into something beautiful, my plays and my books. So when I came to meet Andrea, I had an idea that if she had a creative outlet that would take her on the journey to healing because I had been in a similar situation to her, she was able to hear that.

Marina: And you actually used the word beautiful with Andrea, didn’t you? You sort of told her that she could create something beautiful by using her creativity as part of her process of healing.

Geoff: Yes, absolutely, because this energy that is inside you, I call it parasitical, because it is like when somebody abuses you become entangled with them. So even if you are separated by time and distance and by years and years, they are still in you and you are still in them. So, they are still abusing you even in their absence because they enter your mind, they take over your mind.

So, I recognised that. I needed to take myself back to that pure place. What happened when this guy abused me was he stole something of mine, an innocence, a part of the soul, whatever you want to call it and the only way I was going to get it back was to forgive him, to give him over. I wouldn’t get it back with revenge and anger. If I was able to take that innocence back that he had stolen, I would be able to give him back the parasite that he had given to me.

Marina: Thank you for that, Geoff. I think what you have given there is a really detailed and insightful description of how someone can shed or alleviate the effects of trauma by facing, absolutely head-on, the reality of every detail of what happened. You mention forgiveness and I definitely want to come back to that in a minute.

But, first of all, Andrea, can I come back to you. I know that Geoff’s abuser was an adult, an authority who he admired and even loved. Was there a similar kind of betrayal for you, Andrea? Perhaps you can talk just a little bit about what happens to someone when that kind of trust is eroded.

Andrea: For me in my case it was someone in the family so it was a family member. It was someone who I kind of looked up to as a father figure because my dad wasn’t really present when I was younger and he looked after me sometimes, but not enough. Especially through that time where I was living in that house my dad wasn’t there, so I kind of looked up to this person as a father figure, really trusted them.

So, when they did what they did it was really confusing and it was just like a really big feeling of betrayal, especially because it wasn’t something that just happened once. It was an ongoing thing for I think about two years. I can’t remember the first and last time because it happened so many times and it was like Geoff says, you do feel guilty for it. Sometimes you do think did I lead that person on. Was it my fault? Was it this? Even when I went on to telling my mum a few years later and we confronted them he completely denied it so even that I felt like even I was questioning myself and started to think oh did I image that. Did it actually happen? That is how crazy it is because you don’t want to believe that actually happened.

Marina: Also shame is a great silencer, isn’t it and I would think, Geoff, in that space of not telling anyone, you can imagine just about anything. Your mind can run riot.

Geoff: Actually what she said. Andrea articulated it beautifully. It makes you doubt the facts yourself. It makes you doubt it. You have to really break that down because that is part of the grooming. You have to break that down and go, no matter what happens I was a child and this happened and I am going to confront it.

Andrea: Exactly

Geoff: That is how we break it but it is less about the shame. That is a big part of it. It is more about the fact that society and the people around you make you think it didn’t happen or maybe you did lead him on or maybe it was your fault. You have to come back to the point. I was a child. No matter what happened it can never be my fault.

Andrea: Yes, exactly. I think I kept it quiet for quite a few years. I didn’t actually tell my mum until I was about 11. So there was a few years I didn’t tell anyone. I just kept it secret because when I was so young I didn’t really understand it. I think it was only when I got older you see certain films and you start to think, oh wait a minute, something similar happened to me. Maybe what happened to me wasn’t right and that is what made me tell my mum. But, the first few years I literally didn’t tell anyone and it haunted me growing up.

Marina: OK, I think this is a good place to talk about forgiveness. It seems to have come into the conversation very quickly and I know it is a big part of both of your recovery process. It is also a really difficult subject to talk about in this context.

I remember doing a BBC interview a few years ago and comment on a survey they had done for local radio about what people could and couldn’t forgive. It was on a score like 1-10 and they found child abuse was considered more unforgivable than murder. And, I don’t think this is unsurprising because when adults prey on vulnerable children for their own gain in a cold and calculated way, it is far more difficult to understand than say murder, which is maybe seen as hot-blooded or a moment of madness or coming from vengeful instincts which we all have at times.

So let’s just talk about how you came to forgive both of you and also, how you came to talk about it publicly, Geoff.

Andrea, can I come to you first. When you met when you were 16 did Geoff actually talk about forgiveness then?

Andrea: I think so yes. I remember about that time when I was 17 or 16 there was no way I was going to forgive this person. And, I remember feeling that I didn’t really understand how I am supposed to forgive this person after what they did, after what they took from me like now I feel like this. It wasn’t just depression it was more than that. I even went through self-harm. A lot of different things.

So, for a few years I didn’t even understand how I would be able to forgive them until one day it just clicked. One day it just clicked for me that if I forgive this person and then I no longer have to feel bad all the time and that I am able to free myself from them and I remember when that moment came I even wanted to speak to him. I kind of just wanted to have a conversation just to let them know how I felt and everything and I don’t know just for my own sake because…I don’t know.

But that never happened because as I kept telling myself Ok I am going to message them on Facebook or whatever and speak to them, they were then murdered which was really strange because no matter what he had done, never in a million years did I wish murder upon anyone or death upon anyone. So, I felt really strange. I did feel really sad that that had happened to them and also in the way that it happened.

It was a very strange sort of situation because he was a family member in my family but what am I going to say like? A lot of family members when I gave my condolences they were a bit funny because they said, “this is what you would have wanted anyway”. They said it as if I was being fake and I said, “No way, not in a million years did I want this person to be dead.” So, that kind of conversation I wanted to have with them never happened. So, yes it was just left like that.

Marina: So, it is a freeing for yourself, Andrea?

Andrea: Yes, definitely it is. You feel like by forgiving you may be weaker but it is the complete opposite when you are able to forgive it just gives you a lot of strength within yourself.

Marina: Yes, absolutely and you have also said it is a process, haven’t you?

Andrea: Yes, it is definitely a process. It took a few years and it is a process. You are kind of thinking about it. You must do this. You must do that. It was one day it just clicked. I don’t even know how it was. I was always telling myself OK eventually you must forgive this person to be able to free myself.

One day I was just ready to do it and I just forgave him completely. It was more kind of like they have done this but I don’t know if they went through the same thing as a child but I started to look at them differently instead of as this person that betrayed me. I started looking at them as a human being and not knowing what they had been through, I was able to forgive.

Geoff: Very powerful, isn’t it because what Andrea has used there is she has defeated him with compassion. She has found compassion rather than being stuck in that line of fear and dissonance. She has looked and thought, which is true, that everybody is a victim of something. It doesn’t condone what they do but everybody is a victim of something and unless we are omniscience, we can’t know exactly what but we can free ourselves by letting them go.

Marina: And, is that what happened to you, Geoff and did that help much later when you came to confront your abuser?

Geoff: Yes, I mean I had built myself up into a monster. I had built myself up into this world class martial artist, this fighter. But, then when I started to tip into the higher end of martial arts, the Budo, I started to look at the real power, the power to forgive, the power to expand awareness, like Andrea did there. She expanded the awareness. She saw things from different angles.

Marina: And you did have a conversation didn’t you once I think in McDonalds, where you bumped into your abuser one day, years after the incidence?

Geoff: I did, yes. One day I just found myself confronted with this guy. I was obviously ready to forgive him and I realised as soon as I saw him I knew innately that if I was physical with him in any way, I would entangle myself more. I would create more reciprocity for myself and whatever was in him would be fed by my rage and whatever was in me would be fed by it.

I was given the chance to have a conversation and it was a powerful conversation because I built this carapace, this armoury, around this very wounded, insecure child and when I saw him again that child was evident. That 11-year-old was evident. So climbing out of that McDonald’s chair was like climbing out of the gutter and going across no man’s land. It felt life and death to me but I knew that if I walked away I would lose a vital opportunity.

So, I stood in front of him. I’d completely disfigured myself and again I didn’t realise this until many years later. I was a pretty boy I was very androgynous and I had put myself into a place where I had got broken nose, cauliflower ears. I was very heavy. I was 16 stones. So, I kind of disfigured myself unconsciously to get rid of all the prettiness and I said, “You won’t recognise me but you abused me and you need to know that I forgive you” and I told him it twice. I had to really affirm it, once for him and once for me. This is what I am doing.

I watched him dissolve in front of me. I watched his power dissipate. Similar to Andrea, before I was able to forgive him I had to injure him. I had to get more information. I needed a wider prospective. When I watched him deflate as I forgave him and he put his hand out because he wanted to shake my hand, I realised that he was already defeated and that at some subliminal level he was accepting my decision to give him back to reciprocity.

And, also, I think I mentioned to you before, Marina, once that happened, I walked away from that situation feeling quite proud of myself because it was a difficult thing to do but quickly afterwards I realised there was a quiet conceit there. The man I had been had done so many things wrong in the world. I had hurt so many people. I had physically damaged so many people. I had been unkind and cruel to so many people. I had a lot of work to do on my own repentance and when I say repentance, I mean in the sense of repair. I am still working on it now.

Marina: So, when you forgave him it was like your opportunity to go away and heal.

Geoff: And his opportunity, if he wanted to, to go away and repent. That didn’t happen with him. Similar to Andrea’s case, he wasn’t murdered, he committed suicide and that quite often happens when people are confronted with what has happened to them.

In quantum physics they talk about entanglement and they say that entangled parties can’t be differentiated. The best way to completely disentangle is to go right the way through it, so right the way into it and then you can break free from it. Once you recognise that, you are able to let them go by giving them over to a law of compensation. So, at some level, although Andrea never had the conversation with her abuser, at some level that conversation or that commitment to forgive was registered somewhere, reciprocity unfolded very quickly.

Marina: So, reciprocity I imagine is some sort of reward in a way for moving towards reconciling and repairing and showing compassion but, Geoff, I just wanted to also ask you where does forgiveness fit in to all of this?

Geoff: You mentioned earlier on, Marina, that people talk about forgiveness and the one thing they don’t want to forgive is child abuse and I believe that is because people don’t understand what forgiveness is. The bigger the sin, the more we need to forgive. In other words, the more damaging the sin, the more we have to give them back to the law of compensation, to Kama, to reciprocity, whatever you want to call it.

You only have to take a basic look at science to see that what goes around comes around. What goes out comes back. This is where the level of enquiry is you have to go into that and we have to recognise that. We are not letting somebody off. The crime in a sense doesn’t really matter.

Marina: I want to share here just a glimpse into one of the other stories we work with at The Forgiveness Project, which addresses this same subject in relation to forgiveness and child sexual abuse and actually, in a remarkably similar way.

Dave Dineen is from Ireland and was a victim of multiple perpetrators throughout his childhood. He said there were two ways of looking at the situation. One, which would be to despair and darkness and the other to light and peace of mind.

And he says this. He says,

“I took the road of light. It was an instant decision. A moment of opportunity and grace. I have been down so deep in the darkness, pain, rage, self-medication and addiction so I had to find a way out. For me, forgiveness was like an escalator into the light. So, I took that chance”.

And, then I went on to remind Geoff about something he had once said.

I just want to remind you of something you said, Geoff, once, which I found incredibly powerful and I wonder if you could speak to that. It was post the Jimmy Saville scandal and you said that people understandably are suspicious, even angry, if someone talks about forgiveness in connection with paedophilia or child sexual abuse because they think automatically that you are condoning the action or leaving the way open for further abuse.

And you said that when people attack people like you for forgiving their abusers it’s unkind and the subtext is loaded with judgement and implication and then you said and I want to quote you directly here.

You said, “This is the dangerous naivety and presumption of the observer who sees only two options in sex related abuse, a day in court or a violent revenge. Forgiveness is not even in their lexicon. They fail to see its potency”.

And then you went on to say “When you have tried and been failed by the judiciary and bloodlust turns you into a monster, what are you left with?

Geoff: That was my experience of this place in my anger and in my dissonance and trying to fix the world outside, having this feeling I have got to defend myself against everybody and I have got to defend everybody else but the more violent I was the worse it got. It was like the head of hydra every time I put one off another one grew in its place.

So, I also had my moments in the police station where I sat with a policeman. The policeman basically said to me listen, unless we catch these people in the act we are pretty much lost we can’t do nothing. He seemed naïve himself. He seemed more interested in whether I had enjoyed it or not and it made me feel very angry and violent towards him.

So, I felt patronised. I felt blamed and again I was in a highly sensitive state so you didn’t have to say much for me to think you are against me, you know. But this particular person was still working around children. He was still a danger but they couldn’t do nothing. My testimony didn’t help.

People presume you are able to explore those options but those options didn’t work for me and I could take somebody to court and I could go through that process and that maybe a vital part of my process. That can be very important but it doesn’t mean I get the parasite out of me.

If I can’t at some level find any compassion, an ability to completely exorcise them from me, whether they are in court, whether they are killed or whether they die, they are still in me. I am still entangled and I am only able to completely untangle myself in creativity and arts which is was what I did. So, all the other stuff won’t remove the parasite if you don’t find true forgiveness and true forgiveness is true power.

But, to do that we have to try and understand reciprocity. The problem isn’t the forgiveness. The problem is with the misunderstanding of what forgiveness is. Once you have forgiven properly you will know because you will feel compassion. It doesn’t condone what people do. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to prison. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to court but we can free ourselves by educating ourselves not just looking at those two options and that is the line of enquiry it took me down.

It was a really profound moment when I just got to the point where I thought I don’t need to be concerned about what other people are doing wrong or what they have done wrong. I need to be concerned with what I have done wrong and what I am still doing wrong. I can do something about that. That’s what it felt for me anyway. I can make changes in the world by making changes in myself.

Maria: Andrea, have you had any pushback for talking about forgiveness in this context or have people largely been very respectful?

Andrea: No, they have been respectful really. I haven’t spoken about it too much. There was a point where I did use to blame a lot. I kind of blamed my dad a lot because he didn’t believe me when I said it and he was one of the people that said, “oh well, are you sure you didn’t lead him on” and I found that very betraying like when people ask you something like that it just makes you feel even worse.

There was even a time when I went back home that the abuser he was actually at our dinner party and I remember saying to my dad, “No I don’t want to go there” because I felt uncomfortable and I literally remember being forced to go there and just be in front of this person like nothing has happened because no one else knew and a lot of family members didn’t believe me as well so it was really uncomfortable. So, I also developed a lot of negative feelings to a lot of other members of my family for not believing me.

It wasn’t just forgiving my abuser it was also forgiving my dad for not even doing anything because that was another big thing for me. It was difficult because of the fact that he was a family member, it was nothing, well OK, I want him to go to prison because I didn’t want anyone’s lives affected by this per se, but In the end I just had to forgive, not just my abuser, but a lot of other people in the family as well.

Geoff: I call that secondary abuse, Marina. Like a lot of people write to me over the years, it was rarely the abuse that affected them it was always the denial of the family and of course the family always deny because of fear, because they don’t want the shame. They don’t want the disturbance and someone said to me, “You didn’t lead him on, did you?” The same thing and thinking how can I lead someone on I am a child. That is a loaded question. They are basically saying,” I think it was your fault”.

There is a lot of fear and ignorance around it. I had to forgive all of the people and all of their ignorance because they didn’t know what they were saying. They didn’t understand it. I had to explain my own consciousness, my own awareness, so that I could also take into consideration their ignorance. Some people have said, “You have let him off and you have left him to do it again”. I haven’t just killed him dead. That is the first thing people react with because they just haven’t done the enquiry. There is a side of gaslighting in them. Everybody is afraid. I was met with stillness, with coldness, with fear. It was like I had dropped a bomb in my mum’s Sunday afternoon kitchen. I loved them. They just didn’t know how to react. They had no idea how to process this.

Marina: Because, what was it that your mother would say to you as a child, Geoff?

Geoff: “Never bring shame to my door”. We were more afraid of shame than an assassin’s bullet, absolutely terrified of shame.

Maria: And when you spoke to Andrea, when she was 16, did you warn her about how society reacts to victims of abuse?

Geoff: Basically what I said to Andrea was,

“This is a fantastic opportunity for you to take this energy and process it into something magnificent. You can process it into something great. This is a latent energy. Most people won’t look at it. Most people will stay in anger or dissonance and it will become an identity”.

I said, “You have an ability here to take this energy, process it and create something magnificent with it and in the process bring yourself back to some kind of homeostasis”. I kind of showed her what I had done myself. This happened to me. I can’t change it but what am I left with? I am left with a reservoir of energy that I can do something with.

That was what excited Andrea because she said she was really interested in acting. I said,

“I will tell you what I will do. When you are ready and been through your acting school, I will write you a film and then you can act in that film and star in it.”

Andrea: Yes

Geoff: So, instead of being entangled in what has happened with the abuse and what happened and all the dissonance, by becoming entangled in something very positive and something empowering and I knew I could do that. I wasn’t offering something that I didn’t think I could do and some years later Andrea did call me up and said can you do that film for me and we did a great film, didn’t we, Andrea?

Andrea: Yes, it was amazing.

Geoff: She is a good actor and she was amazing in it. You won an award for it.

Andrea: Yes, I even got an award for it.

Marina: Well that is brilliant.

But, do you think we could perhaps finish by talking about the healing power of creativity and the arts. It is extraordinary, I have spoken to so many people who have suffered from harm or atrocity or trauma and so often they talk about music, writing, or performing or painting as having really helped them heal. It seems like a really effective way of channelling pain in order to transform it or find meaning from it. Yes, perhaps talk about that for a little bit?

Geoff: Yes, absolutely. Each film or play enabled me to look at it from a different aspect and come at it from a different place. There is a lovely line I read somewhere which says, “What you bring to light will become a light”. It didn’t say what you bring to light would become light. It said would you bring to light will become a light.

I wrote a file called “Romans” for Orlando Bloom and it was very difficult processing it again. I already know that film has landed around the world and had a massive effect on people who had been abused and encouraged them to talk. It becomes a comfort but it interrupts someone’s life when they are at a very difficult point and they get the message and they see it. That is why Andrea’s acting and what she is going to do and the things she is going to do in the future. This talk is me and Andrea, we are taking that pain, that dissonance, that people will hopefully listen to and go, “That’s me, I can do something with that”.

Andrea: It kind of gives you a voice to tell your story. With acting it can be very healing when you really put yourself into that character zone and you dig into different emotions.

Geoff: It creates an allowing to people, it allows them to tell their stories especially if someone tells the story as visually as I do. I really go into the detail of my shame and especially my self-abuse afterwards because I know these are things that people are frightened to talk about and if somebody talks about it creates an allowing for somebody else to talk about it. They can go, “well that’s me. I did that”.

Marina: Well, thank you both for that and I think, perhaps on that note we should draw the conversation to an end and I want to say a massive thank you to both of you for coming on the FWord Podcast and for talking to me today. It really was such a pleasure to hear what you both had to say.

Geoff: I think Andrea articulated it beautifully and I think she hit some aspects that I hadn’t thought about myself. She is such a courageous person. I really admire her.

Andrea; Ah, by bye you!

Marina: Well that is a perfect way to end, I think. Thank you Geoff, thank you Andrea.

Thank you for listening to the F Word Podcast. To dig a bit deeper around some of the themes we have talked about do check out the show notes by going to theforgivenessproject.com/fwordpodcast. From there you can also explore The Forgiveness Project website which over the years has collected and shared many more stories of how people have transformed the darkest of situations.

I also want to invite you to join the F Word Podcast Facebook Group especially if you have more to discuss or share. Again, to find the link go to theforgivenessproject.com/fwordpodcast.

But, most of all, I hope you will join me again.

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