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Emma's story - Awareness for abuse



I don’t really know where to start with this. I have never done anything like this before and in all honesty this terrifies me but this for me is about taking back control and seeing that I have made progress on my journey, people have told me I have but it’s important for me to actually see it and this is my way of sort of sticking two fingers up to everyone in my past who has impacted my life negatively or caused me to do things I would never normally think about and to say that they didn’t win, I have and I might have reared off course every now and then but its that, that led me to where I am now and the journey I’m on now so this is to raise awareness and make people realise who might have experienced similar things or who is currently experiencing what I did to know their not alone!

The past 3 years have been a total roller coaster for me, with probably more downs them ups but not just for me for my family and friends. I was sexually assaulted when I was 19. This completely turned my world upside down. Before the incident, my body confidence and confidence in general wasn't great but after the assault, the confidence I had prior to that when to 0. I blamed myself, I was ashamed and I felt so guilty and angry. I was anger at the person who did it to me but I was more angry at myself. There was a huge amount of what if’s, I was constantly questioning myself - did I over react? did I imagine it? I knew deep down I hadn’t but at the beginning I refused to accept it and even when I heard the words, they didn't completely sink it. I went to the police and I had to have interviews which were very personal which made me feel even more ashamed but the way I dealt with the whole process was to try and bury it, to block it out. I went to work, I tried to carry on with my everyday life, I kept saying I was fine even though I clearly wasn’t, I think I was the only person who couldn't see it but looking back now, I think I new I wasn’t fine but I was scared to admit it, I didn’t want to appear weak or like a failure. I can be very stubborn so I was adamant that I was fine when clearly I wasn’t.  
I began self harming which at the time I felt like that was the only release I had, it allowed me to get all my anger out and I figured as long as I wasn’t harming anyone else then that was okay but today, sat here writing this I know that is the complete opposite. I refused help because I was adamant that I could do it alone and it reached a point when I was forced to face up to it and I saw that I wasn’t okay and thats when I started accepting help. I totally hit rock bottom and for me it took that to show me that I needed help and to finally accept it. I was put on antidepressants and diagnosed with PTSD and depression, I was placed on a waiting list for counselling which felt like it took forever and in that time I attempted suicide so then I was offered crisis support which helped in the moment but not in the long term. I knew that I had to be the one to kick start my recovery and to take back the control because I was the only person who could so thats what I did. It took me nearly 2 years but I finally got there and it was the best thing I have ever done. 
I looked for therapy and I finally found one that really worked for me. I still have it now and then just to keep on top of things but for me it completely changed how I saw what happened to me. I went from blaming myself, feeling anger towards myself and shame to feeling anger towards him and I didn't feel ashamed anymore. He chose to do what he did to me, he took advantage of a situation and he is the only one to blame and it has taken me so long to see that but now I do, I feel free from that burden. The therapy also helped me work on issues from my past that I never knew were causing issues for me in the present. We worked on the feelings I had surrounding the sudden death of my dad when I was 12 which I thought I had dealt with but I was holding on to so much anger towards my dad that it was affecting me in my day to day life without me even realising it and being able to work on those feelings, I now feel completely different. I miss my dad every single day, he was the best dad but I’m no longer angry at him anymore and that again makes me feel free. 
I still have a lot of body confidence issues that I am currently working on. I am going to the gym - I find the gym allows me to get my frustration out in a healthy way without harming myself but also I am getting stronger not just mentally but physically too. I have started journalling and meditating too which helps me get my feelings out on paper so they are not building up in my head but also to relax too when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I am still on this journey, i’m not 100% there but even by doing this for me is a huge step. I constantly worry about what other people will think of me so this was a huge step for me but again its giving me a sort of freedom and it’s like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I far from where I was 3 years ago.
I will never forget what happened to me but I am now on this journey to get to the person I want to be and I want to help people who have experienced similar things or may be experiencing them right now. I used to think that life was all bad, that everyone in the world could not be trusted and I do at times still struggle trusting new people but this is something I am working on, it takes time and a lot of people will tell you that I like to do things quickly and I get frustrated when I don’t get something first time but I’m working on it and I’ve realised throughout this whole process that the world isn’t a bad place. There are people out there who will see a situation and take advantage of it, who may hurt you but there are more good people then bad, 100%. I have met so many amazing people on this journey, who I am still working with but they allowed me to talk and to work out my feelings and to get to a place where I was actually able to talk without feeling ashamed. I was in a place where I didn’t see that life was worth living but then I began talking and that made a huge difference. Talking is a very difficult step to take but it is so important. Doing this also is allowing me to take back that control so I find Bbrave to be amazing at what they do. They give people like me a platform to tell their story, to help other people and most importantly gain back control so I am so grateful for that!.
In the future, I want to work with people who have been sexually assaulted, raising awareness of it. I started a blog which I took a break from but I am working to get back to that to raise awareness of different topics surrounding mental health but also I want to do some volunteering work with a rape crisis charity too. I have other ideas too which I am working on at the moment too but I am also working to try to progress within my career. 
I just want to thank my family and friends also - they stood by me even when I pushed them away and I will forever be grateful for that. I have one friend in particular who really helped me see that nothing was worth giving up on life for, she helped me see that I was good at my job because I had forgotten so I am immensely grateful for her for that!