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Survivors Story

I have suffered many forms of abuse since I was born. My mother was neglectful, emotionally abusive and dedicated her life to finding and serving a man, at the expense of her children’s physical, educational and emotional needs.

She married my abuser when I was 4 years old and instantly surrendered control of every aspect of her own and her two children’s lives to him. When I was around aged 10-11, he started sexually abusing me, although I now believe he began grooming me much earlier. This abuse continued until I was 19 (September 2014), at which point my younger sister (she was 11 at the time) disclosed to another of my siblings (there are 6 of us) that she was also being sexually abused by him. When the police were informed, they didn’t speak to the rest of us. No one asked us if we had also been abused, and the social worker who spoke to my sister never came to the house to speak to the rest of the children.


 

Along with the sexual abuse, he also abused me and my siblings in other ways. We were not allowed to have normal childhoods. Me and my older sister were forced to care for our younger siblings, we were made to cook and clean while my mother served his needs. We were denied a proper education, (I only took my English GCSE) and were isolated from others except for a few select people who we were allowed to be friends with. We had to follow their rules and were not allowed to have our own opinions or personalities.

Growing up it was like we lived in a cult, but we didn’t even know that the way we lived was not normal because we had very few outside influences. Even the TV we watched or the games we played were closely monitored and carefully chosen so that we wouldn’t realise that was happening wasn’t the norm.


 

This start in life has caused me many problems in adulthood. I have PTSD, anxiety and depression. When I first left home and began adult life, these were crippling conditions for me. I couldn’t speak to strangers, everything I did was exhausting, and panic attacks plagued me every day. At the same time, I was in denial about the state of my mental health, and I continued to refuse to accept that anything was wrong.


 

Two years after the man who abused me fled the country, I still hadn’t admitted to anyone else, my mother included, what had happened to me. She asked me many times, over and over, but all I could think about each time was how much she’d hate me and how she’d blame me for what had been done to me.

In 2016 I married a man I’d only met on 2 occasions, because all I wanted was to escape her and her abuse. Since I was around 14 this idea had been drilled into my head, the only way to change my life for the better was to get married. That was my only purpose, and my worth was directly connected to whether someone would want to marry me and how many children I’d have. I didn’t see any other way out for myself, and no one around me told me that I could save myself and change my life on my own.

My husband knew what had happened to my sister, and quickly figured out that it had also happened to me. He was alternately kind and weird about it. I remember him asking me if I had loved the man who abused me. My husband told my sister-in-law who in turn told my mother about my sexual abuse. This made me incredibly angry because it wasn’t any of their story to tell. My mother said she felt guilty, and like it was her fault, but I felt like she only said that so I would comfort her and assuage her guilt. She always found a way to make everything about her.

My mother took it upon herself to tell everyone she knew, even people she’d recently met, what had happened to both of her daughters reigniting my trauma. She never once asked us if we were OK with her doing that. The response from the community was varied, but no one checked up on us, to see how we were doing or if we were getting the help we needed. I never felt like I could tell anyone my real feelings or ask anyone about what help I could get for the trauma I had experienced. I felt like people didn’t see the seriousness of the abuse, or that they’d rather sweep it under the rug and ignore the fact that this was a real problem that young girls have been subjected to for a long time. This was made worse by the fact that some of the community had reproached us for reporting a prominent member of the Muslim community to the police or had asked if we still spoke to the abuser and advised my mother to encourage her children to forgive him.


 

I formally reported my abuse to the police at the beginning of 2017, which is around the same time that I started EMDR therapy. Around September 2017 my mental health reached an all-time low, I was severely suicidal for a long period of time, and as this is when I lost my faith and due to this was isolated from my family and felt completely alone. The only thing that kept me alive was my daughter, and yet simultaneously the belief that I was a bad mother and wasn’t taking care of her properly was making me even more suicidal.


 

Despite the issues with my mother, I continued to try and help her see her own mental health issues, and to try and improve our relationship. It wasn’t until I reconnected with A Trauma Healing Practitioner that I fully realised that my mother played a big part in my ongoing trauma. As things with her got worse, I knew that the only way I could fully heal and recover from her abuse was to cut her out of my life completely. I did so in December 2018 and haven’t spoken to her since.

Ever since I spoke to the Trauma Healing Practitioner about the extent of the abuse I suffered. She has supported me completely in every way she could. Funnily enough it was my mother who first told me to speak to her.

Again, In July 2020 she supported me with reporting an incident of sexual abuse disclosed to me by my daughter, involving my younger brother, who had also been sexually abused by his father who was my stepfather and abuser.


 

The Trauma Healing Practitioner has supported me throughout the process of speaking to the police, and every time it brought up anxiety and triggered me she has been there to talk to and help me calm down. She has reassured me multiple times that she will be there every day of the court case, and afterwards so I don’t have to go home alone. She will continue working with me on my healing journey.

Working with her has been a massive part of my recovery from sexual abuse. Before I reconnected with her (I’ve known her since I was a child) I never felt like anyone was on my side, and actually cared about my healing and what had happened to me. Even when I had a social worker for my daughter, and when I spoke to the police about my experiences, none of these other professionals made me feel like they had my best interests at heart, like she does. I feel the authorities have been negligent in regard to my safeguarding and wellbeing.


 

I am doing better now than I have in a very long time. My mental heath continues to have its up and downs, but I am learning to allow myself to feel everything, good and bad, and I have more good days now. I have more tools now to deal with life and the triggers that come up for me, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Trauma Healing Practitioner who helped me.

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