A man who survived repeated sexual abuse and battled severe mental health issues has bravely spoken out about his experience and the trauma beneath his scars.

Simon Kendall, now 42, carried the shame and anger over the abuse all alone – he couldn’t understand what had happened to him.

Throughout school, the torment drove him to kick chairs and constantly fight other kids, reports NottinghamshireLive.

At 15-years-old, he was admitted to an adolescent psychiatric unit after an attempted overdose.

Following years of serious mental health problems, Simon reached his lowest point and jumped from a bridge onto the A52.

He survived but life-changing injuries resulted in both legs being amputated.

Simon and Debbie
Simon says the support from his friend, Debbie Rigby, has been amazing

As memories of the abuse came back, Simon would slash at his face in the belief that making himself look as threatening as possible would prevent any other abusers.

He got his face tattooed to stop himself from cutting and to keep potential rapists at bay by making him, in his words "look like a complete and raving psycho".

Now, Simon’s story is the subject of a new book, Beneath the Scars, written by his friend Debbie Rigby.

Simon Kendal
Simon is bravely sharing his story and has waived his right to anonymity as a sexual assault survivor

It explores his dismay at how he was treated by Nottinghamshire's mental health system and its failures in helping him.

Simon said: "I'm still a human being and if only they had not put me in a box to be treated a certain way because I had deliberately injured myself and instead they had taken the time to try and understand those reasons and the effects of my experiences, things would be different.

"I have been accused of attention-seeking by doctors and I try to explain but they don't get it.

Beneath the Scars book
The book explores problems with the mental health support system

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"One thing that sticks out in my mind is when I had sliced through my Achilles tendon again.

“The doctor said 'next time you do it, don't do it down there, do it here' and he ran his finger across his throat.

“I was shocked and stunned. I still can't believe that a doctor would say such a thing.”

Simon says he would love for others who self-injure to experience more compassionate treatment than he did.

Debbie and Simon
Simon wants to increase the understanding of self-injury

A spokesperson for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Practice in our emergency department is very different now, and there is a Rapid Response Liaison Psychiatry Team in place.”

Chris Ashwell, associate director for mental health services at Nottinghamshire Healthcare, added: "We're sorry to hear about Mr Kendall's experience of mental health services in the 1990s.

"As with all mental health conditions, we have a much better understanding of self-harm than we did 30 years ago.

"Our work with young people is focused on addressing the underlying reasons for this distress and supporting them to develop less harmful and more positive coping mechanisms."

Beneath the Scars is available to buy through Waterstones, Amazon or by emailing Debbie at [email protected], priced £11.99.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can get NHS help regarding sexual assault here or ring the Samaritans on 116 123.