Up until last year, I had worked for twelve years as a psychotherapist, but I was getting asked more and more to attend various speaking events to share my story.
It got me thinking that maybe I should stop working as a psychotherapist to focus on speaking more but I decided if it was meant to be that I would like a sign (I like signs!) I thought if I was going to be a professional speaker then I would love to work internationally to be able to spread my message far and wide into the world.
I never imagined that this could happen! However, On January 1st, 2019 I woke up with an invitation to speak in Johannesburg at a speaker’s conference and then on January 5th I got an invitation to speak at an IWEE (International Women Empowerment Events) conference in The Maldives sponsored by UNICEF.
I decided that these were good signs, thanked the universe for them and took the plunge to become a speaker fulltime and It has been an incredible year for me.
My second application to TEDx Glasgow was accepted this year and in June I stood in front of my largest audience of 2000 and shared my story. This was one of the most terrifying moments of my life but also the most liberating too!
Both of my international events went really well. I was so nervous speaking in front of my peers but I shouldn’t have been as I received so much love and support from them and received my first ever standing ovation. To be told by the Former Deputy Minister of Health and Family that “The impact of Madeleine’s talks in the Maldives, 100% Muslim country, created a mini #metoo movement” was incredible too.
My TEDx “Unbroken – Speaking the Unspeakable” was noticed by Jeremy Vine of BBC Radio 2 after I had tweeted it and about a week later, I was on his show! This was great for a couple of reasons; one I love his show but secondly, he has a huge audience and I was inundated from men and women contacting me and telling me what the sharing of my story had done for them.
This also had a huge impact on my memoir, Unbroken, and after just over two years I had travelled up the charts to become a bestseller in five different categories on Amazon, where it stayed for a couple of weeks.
After the disastrous Prince Andrew interview, I was contacted by BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour show to appear with a journalist to discuss why the focus is so often on the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators and the impact that has on survivors. It was a short but interesting discussion and ticked another box for me as I had always wanted to be on Woman’s Hour.
And throughout the year I have spoken on other radio shows, podcasts, conferences, schools etc and every time I speak, I will be contacted by someone who has had a similar experience as I sadly know my story is not uncommon.
I hope this blog doesn’t come across as a bragging one, but I’m so pleased I trusted my gut. I feel if I can speak out about rape, then I should. Not what it can do for me but what it can do for others.
I do miss the one to one sessions that therapy brings but I feel like I do therapy now for the many rather than just one person at a time.
The overall theme from the many message I receive is still one of shame. “I can’t tell anyone what’s happened to me” “I can’t like any of your posts in case my family see and guess I’ve been raped too” “I’m worried what people will think of me”
As sad as these messages are to read, they just fuel my motivation to speak out even more to end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence and to help others find their voice too.
I want people to know that it’s never too late to find your voice and get support and with the right help it’s very possible to heal and lead a great life after rape. When you find your voice and speak your truth, you can stand in your power.
After my TEDx I was contacted by a head teacher who told me one of his pupils there that day, disclosed that she had been raped a few years ago and until she heard me speak, she had kept it buried deep inside. She said that hearing me speak had given her hope that she will heal, can get past this and will be ok one day.
This is exactly why I speak out and all the evidence I need to carry on doing so! Bring on 2020, I’m happy to trust life that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and excited to see where this journey will continue to take me.