Thursday, 19 July 2018

Esther Beadle - the story of a returned missing adult

Esther went missing in 2016. She shared her experience at a parliamentary roundtable meeting as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults’ inquiry into safeguarding missing adults who have mental health issues.




“I am a returned missing adult.

From my perspective, the return is the most disruptive and difficult part of going missing. It is a very long and slow process. There is little support, very little guidance and a lack of closure in the whole experience.

I went missing …it was 10 o’clock. One minute I was where I was supposed to be and the next minute I wasn’t. There was no intention to go missing or be a missing person. I ended up in London (from Oxford). I was paying cash – I didn’t want to be traced from my card – and avoiding police officers. I did this for 41 hours. Up to the point I was exhausted and was thinking of taking my life. Instead I went to St Thomas’ A&E and asked to see their mental health crisis team.

So that sounds like a story with a happy ending. However, being found is not the end, it is not the resolution, it is just the start. What followed for me was a strange few weeks, months and now a couple of years in which my life has completely changed.

My life is now broken into ‘before’ and ‘after’ I went missing… It is the most significant, traumatic, confusing upheaval I’ve ever gone through. It is something I and my family have had to navigate blindly.

If an adult goes missing – something in their life isn’t working out the way they want it to or it should be. If you return from missing, the place you are returning to is no longer a safe space because you have already proved you can go missing. Your relatives can’t trust you and you can’t trust yourself. Any space you have inhabited is now tainted and fraught with difficulties because you have to proactively re-enter an area that has effectively been ransacked. It is a logistical and emotional nightmare.

Trying to answer the local newsagent who saw the TV news report; coping with deleting the many voicemails from scared friends and family; the responsibility of dealing with messages from people you may not have seen for 25 years; sleeping in a bedroom that has been combed over by the police, including your diaries and underwear drawer; trying to work out how you are going to walk back into your office; working out when you can leave the house without a chaperone; trying to cope with your nervous breakdown being picked apart on social media; trying to phone your mother for the first time after four weeks of being back.

You have to try and do all of this alone.

For me missing led to directly losing my home; losing my job; losing my partner; leaving a city I’d been happy to call home

Through all of this there was not one easily identifiable route to access help or speak to other people who had been through the same thing.

I spoke to police once when I was found – they asked for my name, address, date of birth, and any crimes that I wanted to report. That was it. In St Thomas A&E in a cubicle – whilst banging my head against a wall. I was safe yes, but not well. The police didn’t know the media campaign that had gone on. Didn’t ask where I’d been, how I’d got home. The police report says: 19:06 Officers have been and spoken to her at the hospital and she is safe and well. There is nothing she wants to report to the police and will be staying with a friend…..

There is support for people who are missing and their families, and rightly so, but a huge gap for the people who have returned and a huge vacuum where our voices should be. It makes us feel like an after-thought –almost as if we are still missing.

People need a dedicated safe space to come to terms with what we’ve ‘done’ and support with thinking how we get back into society. I looked everywhere and could find nothing. Nothing for the thousands of people like me who this happens to each year.

Return is an opportunity for learning and for people like me to get the support that we need.”

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Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit www.missingpeople.org.uk.

Call or txt the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.