MJ's Story My recovery began in the late October of 2021, but my story began years before when I was 12. From the ages 12-14 I was sexually harassed, assaulted and raped all by people I considered close to me, a ‘friend' and a ‘boyfriend', all who I met in school. The personal relationships kept me from accepting my assaults, at such a young age I didn’t believe that the humiliation, violation and pain I felt was from something so awful. I was never taught that what happened to me was rape, I knew the age of consent but my school failed to teach me what consent meant, that consent wasn’t just a strong no. I was manipulated by older peers to believe I had to, I owed it to them and that is what I had to give in order to have the older boys like me.It wasn’t until a month before my 17th birthday that I sat with my CAMHS worker at the time and shared the events that haunted the corners of my mind. It was there is her office that I finally concluded that the events weren’t events they were assault and rape. The words ‘I was raped by him’ never left by sub conscious until that day, and that verbal acceptance was what led me into my recovery, a recovery which is easy some days, difficult others but still on going. When I entered recovery I began talking, the more I talked, the more I remembered. I remembered every time, every word said and every feeling. I kept talking and sharing and it helped. Hearing my story finally being acknowledged and believed was freeing, because truthfully in the beginning I was caught in guilt, shame and disbelief, I really fought with my younger self mentally, I didn’t want it to be true but I knew it was and that was the first up hill battle- acceptance. So I read similar stories, I kept talking and in time I learned to accept and love myself even more. The second battle was due to blaming myself, 'how did I not know the truth all this time’. I got stronger with doing the things I enjoyed- weight lifting, reading and going on walks, I fell back in love with life and myself. In doing so I found forgiveness in myself and in that forgiveness I knew it wasn’t my fault. In time I had won the second uphill battle. It is now the summer of 2022 and in September I start my Law degree, a career I want to pursue in order to campaign and work for a country that implements sexual offence laws and education that will help keep people like my own 12-year-old self safer. I am strong and I am determined and I still wear my story every day but I will not be defined by the actions of others, there are days I struggle and on those days, I keep going, for the little me who deserved more from her ‘friend', her school and her ‘boyfriend’. I keep going because of her and every other person like her no matter, I fight for what we all deserve.