This is Phillipene's story.

I have suffered prolonged abuse from the age of 4 up until I was 30.

From an early age it was drummed into me not to tell anyone and this remained with me into my adulthood. I was from a very Catholic background, so when I was abused I went into protection mode for my family. I thought that what had happened to me must be my own fault and I wondered if I was a bad person for allowing this to happen to me. I thought I wasn’t normal. This belief persisted throughout my future relationships and I ended up being with an abusive partner throughout my 20’s. My early experiences had made me think that enduring bad things was just a part of life, so when he told that having sex was an obligation, I believed him. He made me believe that this is how relationships work.

It was seeing my mother with cancer that made me realise that no one that vulnerable should be abused in the way I was. I finally sought help after so long battling on. Trust House Reading (a specialist support service set up by The Survivors Trust in 2015) became my safe space. I accessed therapy services there and joined a support group. Therapy allowed me to remember positive things about my childhood such as my love for singing that I had blocked out with the other memories. In my victim state, I could only focus on the negative. Trusting someone for the first time was very hard but it ultimately gave me my life back.

From going from telling no one to putting my story online, I was amazed by how supportive so many people were. People said things like ‘but you always looked so happy all the time!’ No one can truly know what people are going through on the inside. Years later and with plenty of support along the way, I wanted to give back to the service that had helped me the most. I decided to do a parachute jump, and I chose to do the biggest jump possible. I normally suffer with severe anxiety, but that day I didn’t feel a thing. 2 members of staff came to watch me jump on the day and I felt incredibly empowered by the whole experience. I raised £1500 for the Trust which I am incredibly proud of.

For so long I felt like I had done something wrong. I want children to know that it’s not their fault, how could it ever be? There is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. It took 40 odd years and a lot of therapy but I’ve found it. For others out there, know that you aren’t alone. Being a survivor restores who you are again and you will be a victim for as long as you deny yourself that.