These words…..What sort of images do they usually conjur up? Amelia Earhart? Knights with swords? A fireman saving someone from a burning house? Mr Incredible? Some sports star? Nurses on the frontline fighting COVID-19? Willie Apiata? Who would you want to put in this throne?

My heroines and heroes are invisible. Often overlooked. Sometimes misunderstood. Will probably never be given any prestigious award or join the Queens Honours List. But in our work as psychologists, we see them everyday. People who have experienced childhood abuse and neglect.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls: the most massive characters are seared with scars” – Kahlil Gabrin

The human spirit amazes me. How children survive the horror, terror and deep abyss of their abusive or barren neglectful childhoods is truly incredible. The courage, creativity and fight in the teenage abuse survivor. The strength, courage, patience, toughness, wisdom in the adult now grown.

Our clients are heroes. They start therapy feeling the opposite. Broken, ashamed, weird, weak, bad, failure. I AM THE PROBLEM and IT IS MY FAULT and I AM BAD is etched in their skin. But slowly the work is done and they can own their right to LOVE, HAPPINESS. JOY AND ESTEEM. For survivors of childhood trauma, therapy is a test of their patience, hope and steel core. It can be a long and frustrating drag up a muddy, bloody hill and by god, it takes guts. But it just so happens that they are the gutsiest people I know.

Tara Clark, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Associates