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If anybody told me that one day, I would be standing on the famous TEDx red dot in front of an audience of 2000 people to share my most intimate details of being gang raped as a thirteen-year-old, I would never have believed it

But on June 14th, with a talk titled “Unbroken – Speaking the Unspeakable” that’s exactly what I did!

For many years I was silenced by my own shame of being gang raped as I wrongly assumed that if people found out that they would be disgusted, look at me differently and not want to associate with me anymore.

Brené Brown says “shame derives its power from being unspeakable”

Which was exactly what my shame whispered to me. It’s such a tough emotion to walk through as I really believed that it was my fault and, in some way, to blame for what happened to me.

I think it’s because rape is such an intimate crime that we internalise the feelings which are also supported by the many victim blaming message and rape culture present in society

I know now that it was NEVER my fault and 100% of all rapes are caused by rapists!

The more I share my story, the less shame I feel.  Speaking out has diluted any shame I had left, and I don’t care who knows about my past anymore!

I don’t expect everyone to stand on a stage to speak publicly about being raped but I do believe that the one thing that helped me out of all the many therapies I had most of all, has been to find my voice

If shame stays where it is, unseen and unexplored it will continue to affect you

And stepping into the trauma and shame has been the very thing that has healed and saved me. I stuffed it down for years, numbing out and convincing myself I was ok, but when I look back, I know I wasn’t.

A few hours after speaking at TEDx on Friday, I was contacted by a head teacher who told me he had attended the day with some pupils.  One of his pupils disclosed about her rape from three years ago, just moments after she had heard me speak

This is the power that comes when we share our stories and all the evidence and motivation, I need to carry on speaking out to help other people to find their voice and to help end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence.

Waiting in the wings to go on stage I felt nervous, but I know that it’s not about me talking anymore but who is listening that really matters and that helped to keep me calm.

I strongly believe that it’s never too late to find your voice and get support.  I think there is nothing more empowering that to be listened to, to be heard and to be believed.

I know that my healing has put me on a journey that has allowed me to shed the cloak of shame I wore for years and opened up my heart bringing it appreciation and gratitude for my younger self and life

Healing from shame invites honesty, defrosting the filters that hold you back from living and a refusal to be limited by it anymore.  Are you ready?

Watch my TEDx here