I’m sure you’ve seen this challenge all over Social Media at the moment. You know the one where people are sharing what they looked like 10 years ago compared to now. Well, it had me thinking how different I was then to how I am now.
You see, ten years ago I hadn’t “come out” yet publicly about being raped because I was still so concerned about what other people would think.
I wrongly assumed that people would see me how I saw myself for years. That I was damaged goods, worthless and contaminated.
I was still consumed by my guilt and fear but most of all my shame. As if what had happened to me was a reflection of me in some way.
You can’t underestimate how crippling shame is. It silenced me for years and I would do anything to protect my shameful secret.
I once heard someone describe the pressure of hiding our secrets was like constantly holding a beach ball underwater and that resonated with me.
But the shame I was holding onto never belonged to me; it always belonged to the two men who chose to gang rape me when I was thirteen years old.
Ironically doing the very thing that I thought I couldn’t do has been what has helped me the most. Finding my voice by speaking about it and writing my memoir Unbroken for everyone to read all of the details from that night has taken away my shame.
I realise that I’m not my body or the things that were done to me; I’m so much more than that.
When I look at my photo from 10 years ago 2009, I see someone hiding behind a mask and pretending I was ok which I became an expert at because I did it for years.
And when I look at my photo from present day, I see that constant pressure has lifted and I look freer and more my authentic self than ever.
By finding my voice and standing in my truth I have reclaimed my own power and I’m no longer chained to my past.
I am no longer ashamed to say I was raped as it was something that was done to me and I never invited it in.
Whilst it has shaped my life, it does not define me in any way now and speaking my truth has set me free.
I would encourage anyone who is reading this, that it’s never too late to get support and find your voice. You don’t have share your story publicly like I do but find someone to share it with that you trust. Your story needs to be told and heard.
Finding your voice will help you to live your truth too and set you free!