A story of hope and strength

Below, a survivor shares their story with us.  The pictures at the end have personal significance to them and symbolise exhilaration, hope, determination and courage.

I am a survivor of Child sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and neglect, as a child, and rape.

I was a child in care and left care at 16 years old moving into my own accommodation with no support around me.  Through my own determination, I was able to attend college and university, supporting myself in every aspect, to gain a career in social work.  

As a result of the trauma I experienced at a young age, my personal life has been very difficult and I did not trust people and learnt to be very self reliant, and only depended on myself.  I experienced more trauma when my children were still born and miscarried as a result of the traumas I suffered, and the separation of a long term relationship through infidelity as a adult. 

I have huge self-motivation and I have worked in children’s services since the age of 17 years old, in residential care, then moved into a qualified social worker role. 

Despite my experiences I have a very positive outlook on life, and I have been able to believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to, and have been able to encourage and support lots of others to do the same. 

Despite my own history, physical health difficulties and disabilities, I have worked throughout my life to promote the safety and protection of children, and am passionate about this. I have been able to use my own experiences and insight to positively impact on the wellbeing of children. 

I have progressed in my career to the role I am now, and have been able to gain professional respect in this role for my skills and knowledge.  Through sharing my knowledge and skills, I have been able to support colleagues to improve their understanding and encourage their development.

I have a very pragmatic approach, and am open and honest to enable others to talk, share information and seek help and advice from throughout my life. 

Although the damage caused by child abuse does not end in childhood, it transpires into adulthood, and sometimes feels like it will take over, there are support services and resources out there to help.  I know that I would not have reached the point I am if I had not reached out for support.  It is a massive strength to accept and reach out for support, and not as I once thought (and others may believe) a weakness.   Now there are so many more services, support groups, survivor sites, etc that you are not alone.  So much more than when I started on my journey, and whilst this is sad to recognise that these are needed, it is good to know they are there. 

I know each and every one’s experiences are unique to them, there are some commonalities which can help to link you and make you feel less alone, take those steps towards nurturing yourself and reach out.  Sharing is such a positive, and even just listening is also a positive to enable you to recognise you are not alone. 

The old adage of ‘a person is not an island’ is true, and a problem shared becomes half the burden.  I also want to say that no matter how long you go through recovery there are times when you slip back, and this is part of the healing journey so accept these steps and work with them. 

Life is a journey and sometimes, like mine it can be a very hard, challenging one, but believe in yourself and remember none of this was your fault, you do not have to go through it anymore and you can now lead your journey.