This is Mark's story


Before I begin, I would just like to take a moment to state that the events described in this post are a non-fictitious telling of MY story. Everything you read is a truthful recollection of my childhood abuse, and its effect on me as an adult.

No events have been enhanced or diluted for your ‘entertainment’ or sensitivity purposes.
I haven’t watered this down or held back with my language, I won’t apologise for this, if you feel this might offend you, please click away now. 

I have done my best to leave names, places and organisations out, any relevance is merely because it is the truth.
THIS is real life. 

I shall be discussing the abuse I received as a child, the depression and suicide attempts as an adult and ultimately the steps I have taken to be where I am today including snippets from my counselling sessions and opening up about my past.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” - Rocky Balboa 


When I first decided I wanted to tell my story in the hope of helping others I was advised by a few of my nearest and dearest that it might be best to hide my identity. This was done by those who love and care for me as they worried about any potential backlash that might follow. We all know how the internet works, everyone’s got an opinion on everything and anything, and they’re quick to tell you theirs, especially if it’s negative... long forgotten is the phrase “if you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” These people tend to be better known as ‘keyboard warriors’... well I’m happy to reveal my identity, this is MY story, any negative comments won’t harm me whatsoever, that I assure you. Not to bash out another old saying but... “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. This couldn’t be truer, I’ve been through enough hurt and pain in my life emotionally, mentally and physically that any ‘harsh’ or ‘nasty’ words definitely won’t affect me, especially from those whose opinions are irrelevant. Besides which, if you have anything to say, feel free to come and see me face to face, I’ll gladly give you the time of day and listen to YOUR experiences that have helped form these opinions.                                                                 

I personally feel like revealing my identity only strengthens this cause, as victims WE have nothing to be ashamed of. As victims MANY OF US have suffered in silence. As victims OUR lives have on various occasions been put on hold, due to anxieties stemmed from what WE had to go through and endure, not just in ‘those’ moments but also in the on-going battles in our minds ever since. As victims WE have been made to feel powerless. For me this is no longer the case and so in the famous words of one of my favourite cartoon characters as a child, “I have the power!!!” – He-Man

If this story of mine helps only one person build their courage, face their past and aids them on a path to regaining THEIR power... I will be forever thankful. My journey will have been worth it.

No one wants to remember the abuse they suffered under someone else’s power.
No one wants to relive it, no one wants to face the criticism there will be when you share something like this. So why come forward at all? Why share the story if I’m not going to take action against the abuser who has haunted my sleep and plagued my dreams since?
Because I am finally ready to heal! I have lived and learned and want to give courage to those who are currently and those who have already gone through something similar, as well as for those who have not and hopefully never will.

I have spent much of my life suppressing these memories, even as a child I knew what was happening to me wasn’t right, I just didn’t know how to ask for help. People reading this might think it’s as simple as opening your mouth and asking someone close to you, like a parent, a sibling or a friend... if only it was that easy.

“Why didn’t you do this?” is an easy question to ask, the answer isn’t quite as simple.
“I’d have done this/that” again is an easy statement to make, but unless you’ve been through something like this and found yourself in a situation similar, you wouldn’t really understand. We as people like to believe we would do this or that in dangerous or traumatic situations, but how we like to think we’d react isn’t necessary how we would once we find ourselves in a position of fear... what we forget is our bodies natural instincts, and that can sometimes stop us dead in our tracks, we freeze and we panic... before we know it, it’s too late. 

What about after the event(s), why not do something then, after-all, we’re safe right? Why not talk to someone? Get help? Physically we might be safe... but what about mentally? That’s a whole different story, I know for me, I never felt safe again, not for a long time. 

Did I want to tell someone, of course I did!

I had a mum and dad who would have done anything and everything for me as a child. I didn’t come from a rich middle-class background, my parents had to work hard to provide for us as a family, but they did their best and we never went without.
I was ‘mummy’s boy’ growing up, the youngest of her three children... ‘her baby’ as she liked to remind me... So why didn’t I talk to her about it?

I have an older brother and sister, again both of whom would have done anything and everything to protect their little brother... so why didn’t I open up to either of them? 

My brother was my hero as a child, a brother you could look up to and admire. He was smart, a talented footballer and it seemed, good at everything else, I always felt like I struggled to keep up, but he never once made me feel that way, he would encourage me and push me to be the best I can be... so why didn’t I turn to him?

I had a good circle of friends, some of which I was closer to than others, some I had known since before I can remember, some of which that came from families that treated me like one of their own... so why didn’t I talk to one of them?

Why didn’t I say something? Because it was never that simple. The words were there but trying to open your mouth and actually say them seemed almost impossible. This remained the case until I finally opened up about my past in 2015, it took me 20+ years to say the words out loud...

“As a child I was physically and sexually abused.” 

I always knew, saying these words aloud would bring forth so many more concerns and worries I had...
What if no one believes me?
What if he denies it?
What if I get into trouble?
What if I get judged?
What if people think less of me?
What if I get laughed at?
What if? What if? WHAT IF!? 

Instead I thought what if I just bury everything deep down and pretend it isn’t happening? What if I just ‘act normal’ and pretend everything is okay? No one needs to know a thing that way, I can just ‘forget’ and NEVER have to think about it, therefore NEVER have to talk about it.
I guess this worked for a long time, well I believed it did, little did I know what it was doing to my mental health. Like a parasite it was eating away at me from the inside, I may have appeared ‘normal’ on the outside and put on a smiling face (anyone who knows me, knows my smiling face isn’t one to be desired) but on the inside, I was anything but. However, it was working well for me...  or so it seemed.

Life continued to bring various knocks (some of which I will discuss in later posts), but they too could be hidden deep down and forgotten, pretending it never happened, it was like a bottomless pit.

One of the things I couldn’t hide deep down or run away from was the death of my mother, who tragically passed away on the 15th November 2007.
Since then onwards throughout October/November I had always struggled. Thoughts of her death would cloud my mind and have a massive impact on me, but I didn’t allow others to know or see it, I was ‘strong’ you see, like a ‘real man’.
It was 8 years later, October/November 2015 and the feelings I’d grown somewhat used to set in, I could feel myself switching off, only this time things seemed much worse than before. As time passed, I found myself not only thinking about the usual thoughts of my mum’s passing but also memories from my childhood that I had hidden deep down for so long and hoped would never resurface in such a way. The more I tried to switch off from these thoughts the more I thought on them, the more I thought on them the more I could feel myself sinking deeper! 

I was laying in bed one night with my partner who at the time was a close friend (we weren’t Facebook official yet, so you know, it doesn’t count until the social media community know about it). She’d noticed how I had become distant over time and we got talking... this alone was a rarity for me, I was so used to switching off my emotions and closing down, going silent and pretending I was fine. I’d lost count the amount of times I’d said in my life “I’m fine” whenever anyone asked “are you okay?” when really I was anything but... what was I going to say instead, the truth? “No not really, how long have you got?” that just wasn’t an option. 

Anyway, like I was saying, we were lying in bed one night, and I knew there was something different about her, I felt at ease, I felt safe and secure... I felt like I could finally put my trust in someone and not feel judged. 

I told her what was going on in my head... I told her all about my mum’s death and then about the ‘other’ memories that were constantly causing a stir in my mind... it was the first time I’d ever told anyone, that as a child I was sexually abused. 

I’d like to say it felt good to finally say it out loud, but it didn’t, not initially, it was more like I’d finally admitted to myself that this happened, after refusing for so long to even allow myself to think about it. 

As the days passed I sank further into myself... I still to this day struggle to know how what happened next actually came to be, but I attempted to rid myself of these thoughts, of these feelings and of what at the time felt like the embarrassment that was my past... I attempted suicide. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t even know I was going to do it, I don’t remember much at all, other than feeling myself force a knife edge into my wrist and drag it down the skin... I suddenly zoned back in, it’s like I’d ‘left the room’ like someone else was controlling me... I suddenly ‘came back’ and dropped the knife to the floor. What on Earth was that? What was I doing and how did that happen? 

I needed help.

I was taken to A&E and we told them what had happened... I felt ready to accept help, unfortunately it didn’t go to plan. As the hours passed and we sat waiting to be seen I felt myself beginning to close down once again, before I knew it I wanted out... I was no longer accepting of help. “I don’t need anyone’s help! I’m fine!” Are words I think back on me saying and wish I could go back in time to shake some sense into myself... but I wasn’t ready, and that is one of the most important things when it comes to mental health, the person has to be ready to accept help for themselves. 

I somehow managed to bury these thoughts deep back down within myself, as though it had never been an issue. For the next three years it was rarely spoken of again... I remember thinking to myself, ‘I knew I’d be fine, it was just a silly blip, I was so weak, that won’t happen again’ I couldn’t have been more wrong! 


From being a helpless child onwards, as I grew older, I always said to myself if I ever saw him again, I’d confront him, I’d hurt him, I’d get my revenge. The more I got into bodybuilding and the bigger and stronger I became, the more I looked forward to hopefully one day seeing him again. 

As though it was by coincidence, one day, not long after I had first ever spoke of it, I was taken by surprise. Sat in the car at a set of traffic lights I saw HIM (at least I believe to this day I did). He was walking practically a few feet away with another male carrying shopping bags. I stared at him as he passed by my window...
Where was this rage and anger I had built up for so long?
Why wasn’t I jumping out the car and doing what I always swore to myself I would do if I ever got the chance?
I was frozen in my seat. I couldn’t move, I struggled to breathe, I felt powerless! I felt like that helpless child again.
Before I knew it, the lights had changed... my opportunity was gone.
The entire way home I was silent, I could feel myself getting more and more pissed off at myself...
What happened!?
Why didn’t I act!?
Was I scared? REALLY!? Surely not! I could have ripped his head from his shoulders with ease... where was this version of me when I needed it!?
I felt like I’d never forgive myself.
What if I never got a chance like this again to confront the man who destroyed my childhood? I felt like I had let that helpless little boy from my past down.
I hated myself and didn’t want to be here anymore... I wished death upon myself again.

At the time I was working as the head door supervisor (or as it’s less professionally known these days, a bouncer). I was running one of (if not the) busiest ‘doors’ in town at the time, with a regular capacity of 1,200 customers, it was my job to ensure things ran smoothly and that everyone had a trouble-free night. With 12-15 other door supervisors working under me (army veterans, rugby players, boxers, MMA fighters, builders, electricians and so on, you get the idea, they were what could be described as stereotypical ‘mens men’), how could I allow them to see or know what was really going on with me... after all I was so often described as big, powerful, domineering and in control... I couldn’t let that ‘mask’ slip now could I!? I had to maintain this image, I had to stay ‘strong’.

As the days and weeks passed, I again began to ‘heal’ or again, so I believed, burying it back down inside and getting on with things... being ‘strong’ being a ‘man’, being what I always believed a male HAD to be. 

Things soon returned to normal following the Christmas period, I was back to my ‘normal’ self, even laughing at myself for being so ‘weak’. 

I decided in the New Year to put my degree to use, I signed up for an agency and began working during the week here and there whilst still working ‘the doors’ at one of Blackpool’s busiest clubs.

Following a busy summer dealing with Blackpool’s holiday makers and locals I was asked to take on a full time role through the agency, by this point I’d grow tired of the late nights, the fights, the constant dramas and the troubles that were occurring in the town centre, so I jumped at the chance. 

I soon settled into the role and felt like I was finally doing something worthwhile, I was content.

What happened next was something I’d never have expected... HE worked there!
I was a few weeks into my new role, and I saw him, ‘THIS CAN’T BE REAL!’ I remember thinking to myself. 

This time it was different, I didn’t freeze. I just put my head down and walked on.

I went home and told my partner; she couldn’t believe it. She was raging I’d never seen such anger from her. She wanted to confront him, it felt so strange having someone wanting to protect me! We spoke about me leaving but I argued how much happier I was in this job than I had been in years, I told her “I’ll be fine” (that should have been my motto at the time). 

Not long after this HE actually approached me, “Mark Sherwood, isn’t it?” I couldn’t believe it, had he forgot what he did to me as a child!? 

I felt myself ‘change’ it’s as though I had to put on a front and just seem ‘normal’, I felt like I’d been stripped of my power AGAIN!
I’m still not sure how I managed to this day, but I answered him, though I can’t even remember what my response was.
He said he’d heard about my mum’s passing and asked how my dad was... ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING, HAS HE ACTUALLY FORGOT!?’ I recall thinking to myself.
Again, my partner and I discussed me leaving and again I assured her “I’ll be fine”

There was no conversation between HIM and I following this other than acknowledgement in passing... each time my skin crawled and I felt my stomach turn, I didn’t feel like the man I had become, but more like the child I once was.

After a couple of months, I was offered a full-time position through the workplace itself but in a different role. I’d handled things quite well I thought and hadn’t let myself get down about being around HIM again, I was coping... the pros seemed to outweigh the cons, so why not go for it I thought.

I’d previously encouraged my partner to go and chase her dream of achieving a degree, which she began in the September of that year, I promised I’d help her financially, to achieve her goals, so this was a no brainer, I left the agency and began full-time employment directly for the workplace. 

Over the next two years things seemed to go well, I admittedly had good and bad days, I had thoughts of revenge, admittedly some dark evil thoughts, but they were just thoughts (more on that later), for the majority I was coping and happy in what I was doing. 

As for my partner, she couldn’t have been doing any better, she was smashing it! I was so proud of her.

In the summer I applied to do a master’s degree in mental health and handed my notice in at work. Mental health was becoming a bigger issue for lots of people and it was finally starting to be taken seriously, and I believed I could help others after believing I had ‘conquered’ my own issues... Turns out, these issues were far from over, the worst was yet to come. 

With my partner going into her final year I made the decision to do one more year at work, I couldn’t possibly let her get this far and do as well as she has had to then let her down, (doing a master’s degree wasn’t going to be cheap), so I met with my boss and came to an agreement to work one more year. 

My partner felt guilty but she had no reason to, this was MY decision and I’d have never have forgiven myself had she not achieved what I knew she was capable of doing so, this girl was going to get a First class degree no matter what! 

October soon approached and I soon felt myself sink back into old habits, only this time it was worse, I felt crippled with negative thoughts. I couldn’t understand or explain how I felt, other than I was down and didn’t want to leave my bed, let alone the house.
I told work I’d be off as I wasn’t feeling well, I hoped I’d improve throughout the week, but things just got worse. I sank further down into myself and thoughts of not wanting to be here began to resurface again.
I began thinking on my past again, I began hating myself for allowing myself to be in such close proximity with the person who’d made my childhood hell.
I began thinking of the events that took place as a child... with glimpses of information coming back to me little bits at time. How had I not thought of these things in so long? It was like ‘new’ information only it wasn’t ‘new’, it was memories, MY memories, MY past. 


HE was a friend of the family, and had been for a number of years, one night each week I went to his house after school, it was an arrangement put in place by my parents who themselves would be at work. My parents ran a seaside hotel and were often rushed off their feet most days with the day to day chores of managing and running a guesthouse.

As I continued to sink deeper into myself, I began thinking on how ‘it’ all came about.  
How interested I was in his collection of Star Wars and Wrestling figures, what young boy wouldn’t be? Often, I would play with these figures like any child would have done… I wish that was where the memories ended and that I had no story to tell, but all that changed one day, and it would never be the same after that.

There was nothing different about this day, not until he came in and I noticed him barricading the door shut with a chest of drawers. I was confused, why was he doing that? He began ‘play fighting’ with me, much like me and my brother would do as kids, only this wasn’t my brother, (my brother never barricaded any doors when we would fight), and soon this was no longer fun, at least not for me anyway.

I remember him grabbing at areas of me which didn’t feel or seem ‘right’ and I would push him off, only for him to try again and again, each time getting rougher and stronger.

Eventually things become more aggressive and he began to overpower me and this time I couldn’t get him off me. His hands went down my pants and he began grabbing at ‘things’. He began pulling at my trousers and no matter how much I tried or how much I fought back, he got what he wanted. My trousers and pants were down, and he did and got what he wanted. I just lay there, with tears in my eyes and wished I was somewhere/anywhere else.
Thinking back on this I couldn’t help but wonder,  
Why didn’t I fight more?
Why didn’t I shout for help?
Why didn’t I find a way to make it stop?
Fuck knows... instead I just cried. 

I remembered each week I would have to go ‘there’ and the above became more of a regular thing, I would have to be ready to fight and ultimately face whatever was coming.
WHY DIDN’T I SAY SOMETHING!? Eventually I didn’t even think about it anymore, it was just something I’d grown used to. Eventually I even gave up fighting, I knew the outcome so why go through all that physical pain to just receive more anyway… Just get on with it, I’d stopped caring. I’d lost any will to fight, and any power I had, he’d stripped me of that as well as my innocence. I was powerless. 

Powerless you may ask?

What even with guns like those? Hard to believe I know, but all jokes aside, he’d taken every ounce of it.

I often thought back on this and blamed myself.
Did I encourage it by no longer fighting back?
Did he think I’d grown to enjoy the abuse?

To the victims reading this, I assure you the abuse you received was not your fault.
Your abuser(s) much like my own knew/know exactly what they are doing, the blame is theirs. If you gave up fighting or never fought back at all this doesn’t mean you welcomed the abuse, that I assure you. There are 101 reasons I am sure, but ultimately your will was broken.


If you’re reading this and thinking I actually escaped, you’re wrong, remember this isn’t a fairy-tale... this is real life, there isn’t always a happy ending.

With the door barricaded shut I knew there was never an escape.
At first, I used to lay and hope that someone would come through the door and save me... this never happened, the only escape I had was the window. I remember I would stare out the window as he did what he wanted/needed to do. It was my ‘mental’ escape. He may have had control of my body, but he didn’t have control of my mind... I would switch off as I stared out the window, looking at the sky, wishing and hoping to be anywhere else but there. 

This became something I would continue throughout my life without even knowing it, using windows to escape situations I didn’t want to be in. Lessons at school as a child, “You’re always daydreaming, focus on the work”, or whenever things became tough or too much, I would often find myself staring out the window wondering what was going on elsewhere. Avoiding arguments with partners, instead of ‘fighting’ I’d just go quiet and stare out the window or even at the television if I didn’t have a clear view, anything to take me away from the current situation at hand. I can only imagine how annoying that must have been for others. So often I was told “I hate it when you do this, you just act like nothing has happened, I’d rather you just screamed or shouted instead of just going quiet and switching off, it’s like you’re not even here, like you don’t even care!” and still I’d sit there ‘zoned out’ hearing what’s being said around me but refusing to accept it was reality. 

I never put the two together, how my ‘escape’ as a child had followed me through my teenage years and into adulthood. I knew I zoned out and switched off from things, but I never knew why. This only came to light when my counsellor explained that I stared out of the window a lot during our meetings, when asked why I explained it was because I could see outside, and that outside as daft as it sounds wasn’t ‘this room’ and therefore I could imagine being elsewhere, much like I had as a child. It was like a switch had been flipped inside my head and suddenly I realised how I had carried this ‘coping mechanism’ with me throughout my life.


As I continued to decline and sink deeper into myself I decided one day to go for a walk, to gather my thoughts, and to try and make some sense of everything that was going on inside my head, which itself was becoming a sort of prison for me. I knew exactly where my destination was going to be… I wanted to return to where it all began.

It didn’t take me long to get there. I had passed that road a number of times since ‘then’ but I’d never gone down it, I’d never returned to that house since last stepping foot in there as a child. Thankfully in my youth I got to an age where my parents no longer needed me to go ‘there’ and I gained what they thought was some independence, being able to take care of myself after school and make my own way home each evening. Little did they know what this really meant to me. No longer did I have to go ‘THERE’ once a week and face ‘HIM’, no longer did I have to go through things which even to this day my mind won’t allow me to remember the full details of, I was physically free! I started to enjoy my childhood more, spending time with friends, playing football each night if not for the school team or training then with friends on the park, I began to forget what I had been through and instead began feeling like a ‘normal’ child, cheeky, mischievous and most of all, happy.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’d reached my destination, by this point the sun had set but the evening wasn’t dark, it was one of those warm, peaceful nights where everyone and everything seemed at ease. I made my way up the road and reached the house, I expected a flood of memories to come rushing back, but instead there was nothing. I felt nothing.

I stood and stared at the house, wondering to myself if he still lived there? I tried to remember myself as a child walking through the garden and to the front door knowing what was waiting for me behind it, how scared and broken I must have been. I wasn’t a child anymore, I was a 6’5, 20 odd stone man, full of rage and my blood was boiling. I couldn’t help but think of that little boy I once was and how I’d let him down by not confronting him, by not seeking the revenge I’d wanted for so long. I wanted to go knock on the door, better yet I wanted to kick the door down, storm into that house and see him there, things weren’t going to be like they once were, I’d take him to my own personal hell, he’d beg for Satan to save him after I’d finished with him. But then what if he didn’t live there anymore, and instead a stranger answered the door, what would I say? What would I do?

Instead I crossed over the road and perched myself on a wall belonging to a house opposite. I sat and stared for a while, the house seemed empty, as though no one was home. I found myself looking up at the window that was once my ‘escape’, only now instead of looking out, I was looking in. I was thinking to myself, if only someone would have looked up at that window all those years ago and saw what was happening, IF ONLY. The world wasn’t made on ‘if only’, so I had to stop dwelling, the reality was ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ will only ever haunt us, our pasts are what they are, they cannot be changed, no matter how much we wished they could be.

Eventually I got up and walked away, I felt no different than before I’d arrived. I’d gained no answers or knowledge. I guess it was just something I needed to do, and now it was done. I returned home and felt no better for my journey, if anything I felt worse.


Eventually my partner convinced me to go and see the doctor, I knew I had to, this wasn’t normal. I explained to them how down I was feeling, I didn’t go into much detail but they signed me off work for a further two weeks with ‘stress’ although asked me to come and see them before I returned to work to ensure I was fit to do so.
I was also given some leaflets for mental health helplines and agencies... I remember my first thought being ‘I’m not mental.’

Over the next two weeks things didn’t improve, they got worse, a lot worse. I sank deeper into myself and I could see it was now affecting my partner too. 

I returned to the doctors and this time I felt like I had to open-up and be honest with them... I felt suicidal again, I didn’t want to be here anymore, but I also didn’t want to die, it made no sense.
I informed them of my past (most of it, I held back that I worked with the person who abused me, I felt maybe they’d make me go to the police or take legal action).

I was signed off again, this time they wanted to sign me off for a longer period of time but I asked for it to be just 2 weeks again, hopeful that if I set myself a deadline perhaps I could work towards pushing myself to improve.
I was asked to again return before going back to work to assess how I was doing. I was also put on medication. An anxiety based medication, (I’d heard and learnt a lot about anxiety, I never for a second considered it was something I’d have).

A further two weeks down the line and my hope of setting a deadline to encourage improvement had failed. I continued to sink further into myself and the ‘dark thoughts’ I had been having took over more and more... I attempted suicide again.
This time I knew exactly what I was doing, thankfully I ‘failed’ again.
At the time I wasn’t thankful at all, I hated myself more than I ever had, how could I have done that to those who cared about me!?
What kind of person was I becoming?
I felt selfish. 

‘Maybe I am mental’ I thought to myself. 

I decided to ring the number on the mental health leaflet I was given and opened up to someone about what was going on. I was informed my case would be progressed forward and I’d eventually be assigned a counsellor.

We returned to the doctors and I informed them of my mental state, the doctor had an idea, perhaps returning to work would help? You know help me get back into a routine and give me some purpose again?
It was time I told them the full truth, that the person who had such a big influence on causing me to feel this way, is one of my work colleagues.
I could sense the shock upon telling my doctor, I was again signed off work. 

During this period, I received a letter from my workplace requesting I attend a meeting regarding my absence. I discussed this with my partner, I told her I felt like people thought I was soft for being off work with ‘stress’ and that I was being judged for my absence by work colleagues. 

I told her I wanted them to know the real reason I was off work, I’d spent most of my life hiding the truth, I wasn’t prepared to do so anymore. My only fear was that this person would be protected. Having friends in higher places I truly believed nothing would come of it and that I would somehow become ‘the bad guy.’
I also worried this would become a police/legal matter, that there was no evidence other than my word against his, what if people didn’t believe me? 

I requested a meeting with my doctor before the meeting at work but unfortunately, they weren’t available on such short notice, I did however get offered an appointment with a different doctor and accepted. 

This doctor made me feel comfortable and relaxed instantly (describing me as a Greek God and referring to me as both Zeus and Hercules upon meeting me).


I was made to feel at ease and seemed to strike up a good relationship with them instantly, discussing with them what I’d discussed with my other doctor previously. 

Following her receiving this information the doctor asked if I’d ever considered anti-depressants, ‘depressants? I’m not depressed.’ I thought to myself.
I was given some information to read through and asked to return in a couple of weeks to discuss the option of taking this medication. 

Reading the information given I realised, perhaps I am depressed, wow, who knew!
I hated the idea of having the label ‘depressed’ but things weren’t improving so maybe they were right (I know, a doctor only trains for 7+ years to be in their profession, who’d have guessed they’d know more than me!).
We also discussed the meeting at work, they agreed I should tell them why I’m off... why should I ‘protect’ someone that’s got me where I am now, that’s got me into the situation I am now in!

I attended the meeting at work and informed them of the reason for my absence.
I told them I didn’t want to give a name as I didn’t believe it would help matters and in fact would only cause more stress for me. Part of this reason was due to me not feeling ready to face such a thing, the possibility of it becoming public knowledge terrified me.
What follows are the events that took place in the lead up to my return to work. Note to any employers reading this who’s staff may go through something similar, this is how NOT to deal with them or the situation.

During this first meeting my boss commented that they felt it was odd that after handing my notice in and then deciding to stay, I went off ‘sick’ just over a month later. I explained how I had been ‘okay’ at the time. My boss further asked how I had managed to get on the last two years without it getting to me and why it suddenly got to me now? I didn’t really have an answer... I still don’t to this day. I just ‘got on with it’ as it was what was best for me. 

We discussed me attempting to access counselling (the leaflet previously given to me by the doctor). My workplace offered the option of private counselling with the costs covered by them, something I appreciated and accepted (I can’t knock them for that).

The workplace said they would be in touch regarding next steps and how we progress forward with a second meeting eventually agreed upon. 

Throughout all of this, other than my partner, there was another person I turned to and opened up to, her mother. What an absolute diamond she turned out to be.

Without her support I truly don’t think I’d have been where I am today. Together my partner and her mother became like carers, looking after me on the bad days and constantly checking up on me throughout the good, making sure I wanted for nothing.
I’ll forever be in their debt.

With my nerves and anxieties building as the next meeting approached, I asked my partner’s mum to attend with me.

It was at this meeting things took a turn for the worse.

It was made clear to me that if the name of the member of staff that abused me as a child was not given to representatives then police would be informed with the possibility of charges being brought against myself for withholding safeguarding information.

It was asked what the protocol would be should the name be given, and we were informed that the member of staff would be suspended pending an investigation.
I was assured that HE wouldn’t be told why he was suspended but that it would be put down as a safeguarding complaint. This would then be investigated, following which a decision would be made.

Following much deliberation, the name was given, the last thing I wanted was to have charges brought against myself after all, I was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Upon giving the name I saw the look of disappointment on my boss’s face, he didn’t hide that too well, it was as though he didn’t want it to be that member of staff. I instantly regretted it and felt my gut instinct was right, that he would be protected.
As we left the meeting my partners mother informed me, she’d noticed this too, it felt like it was now confirmed.  

I wish I could say I felt better for finally giving the name.
I wish I could say a weight was lifted.
I WISH I could say these things, but I can’t. 

In the days that followed this meeting I was visited by the police, the one thing I didn’t want to happen was now happening.

The two officers that visited me were very supportive and understanding of my situation. I explained my fear of things becoming public, people judging me, doubting me and looking at me differently... like a victim.
I expressed my concerns about HIM denying it and that it would only ever be my word against HIS... they agreed, unfortunately, this would likely be the case.
I was asked why I’d given a name if I never intended on pursuing things further? I explained I was told if I didn’t, I’d have charges brought against me for withholding information, right? WRONG!
The two officers explained no such charges existed and that my workplace had no right to make such a claim. I couldn’t believe it, my trust was broken. My fears were starting to become reality.  

Due to my time off my wage was cut in half until I returned full-time. This was the company’s protocol… I recall my thoughts were likely what yours are reading this… “WOW!”

I came to learn over time that ‘HE’ was never suspended. Was he really being protected like I assumed he would be?
Who knows? I’d given up caring. I just wanted to get back, get my partner through the last six months of her degree and get out of there. 

Overtime I somewhat began to improve, with my anti-depressant medication kicking in and me feeling more positive, a meeting was arranged at work for the New Year regarding my return.

During my time off and before the New Year I found the courage to open up and speak to my dad and stepmother. They had been unaware about me being off work as I kept up a pretence that everything was ‘fine’. That was until my dad saw me one morning in the gym. “Why you not at work?” he asked, I felt like he’d caught me off guard, I wanted to tell him, but this wasn’t the time or the place. He clearly sensed something wasn’t right and asked me round for tea.
That night my partner and I told them everything. I asked them to keep it from my brother and sister, for now at least, until I was ready. 

On my return to work meeting I was told how much ‘better’ I seemed, that meant a lot, as I honestly felt like I was on the path back to being myself.

It was discussed how I’d recently spoke to my dad and step mother about things, this was met by my boss discussing how many members of staff within the work place knew my siblings and that he would like it if I didn’t tell my brother and sister. At the time I agreed, I wasn’t ready to talk to them yet anyway. Thinking back on this it angers me. Who was he to tell me who I can and can’t tell about MY past... at the time I guess he was the man who paid my wages, how could I argue?

I was also asked about my feelings towards ‘HIM’ and discussed my on-going back and forth want for revenge.
“You won’t act on these feelings, will you?” Of course, I said no, but could I guarantee it, now that’s a different matter altogether. 

In this same meeting I was informed that only those necessary knew of what had been disclosed. I didn’t have a relationship with these ‘superiors’ and therefore requested that my line managers were informed, I was told that under no circumstances can anyone else know, any talk of this with other members of staff could lead to disciplinary consequences. 

The company discussed arranging a private counsellor again, having held back on this previously until I had spoken to the police. It was agreed that this is something I would still like to go ahead with. 

Looking back now, as a stronger person with a clearer mind I doubt I’d have been so submissive and compliant. Dictating to me what I can and can’t do… GET FUCKED! 

Alas, it was what it was and if I had then I doubt I would be where I am now.
We had various agreements put in place to help me, I just couldn’t help but NOT trust them or feel a lack of support. 


Eased back in slowly, I began to feel what I had now learnt were my anxieties acting up.
How was everyone going to react towards me? 

What is everyone going to think?
Where have I been?
Why was I off?

What if I see HIM? 

What if I freeze again?

What if I ‘snap’ and embrace my thoughts of revenge? 

Again... What if? What if? WHAT IF? 

Not long into my return I remember seeing HIM again, this time I didn’t freeze, this time my fist clenched, this time my blood boiled, and my jaw stiffened. I began grinding my teeth and suddenly felt myself losing control, but I was still scared.
I couldn’t do it. I needed to get out of there, and I needed to get away from everyone. 

I went and hid in my office. My mind was a whirlwind of emotion like it had been so much during this time. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t get control. I was fighting the urge to smash everything in sight as I tried to calm myself down, I sat in my chair with my head buried into my hands trying my best to block everything out.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door and my line manager/friend walked in, he knew instantly that something wasn’t right. 

I’m not sure how, but before I knew it I was telling him everything.
This is something I look back on and see as a huge turning point for me.
From that point onwards things slowly began to get better. 

I opened up about my anger towards HIM.
My thoughts, feelings and ‘want’ for revenge.

I spoke to him about how I often thought about going to see HIM.
Here it is, those thoughts I promised you we’d come back to.
I’d walk into the room, barricading the door shut so it was just me and HIM.

HE had no escape.
Looking into HIS eyes and seeing them fill with fear I would take my time savouring every second of his dread as I finally got my hands on HIM, this had been a long time coming.
As much as it would make my skin crawl touching HIM, I believed it would feel so good wrapping my hand around his skinny little throat and squeezing the life out of HIM.
Watching the life drain from his eyes as he chokes and gasps for air, I’d literally crush every last bit of oxygen from HIM leaving just one last breathe and then I’d let go.
I wouldn’t want HIM dead. I’d want HIM to live with the feeling of helplessness.
Knowing now how it feels for someone else to be in control of your body.
How it feels to be powerless.
I’d remove the barricade from the door and tell HIM to never forget this moment or ever think this made us even.
I warned you these were some dark thoughts, but before you judge please remember I had 20+ years of this anger, hatred and want for retribution building up in my head.
Luckily, I’m not stupid.
What would I gain from doing such a thing? A sense of power, sure.
Would it feel good? Of course, but for how long?
It wouldn’t take away what HE did.
It wouldn’t take away the years of pain, the years of nightmares and sleepless nights.
The nights as a child I was too scared to leave my bed and go to the toilet, choosing to wet myself instead, that was never going to disappear.
All that would happen is HE would become the victim and I in turn would become the monster. 

I wouldn’t allow that. I was smarter than that. 

Following me opening up to my line manager I actually felt supported in the workplace, I felt like someone believed me and wanted to help me, not for the sake of the company or to tick some boxes but because he genuinely cared. 

I am forever grateful to the man who stood by my side during the darkest days of my life and supported me every possible way he could. I will never be able thank him enough.
If YOU are reading this, thank you for everything you did. I worry where I would/could have been had it not been for your support. 

The remainder of my time at work became so much easier, I was enjoying myself again, I was applying myself and although it might not have been done the way others would have liked, I was getting the job done.


With the support of loved ones and my line manager things finally began to get better.
I began to feel myself again. For so long I had felt like I had lost who I was, it had impacted every aspect of my life.
Work life: As previously discussed, I doubt there is anymore that needs adding to the affects it had on my work life, you get the idea.
Social life: I had cut myself off from my friends and family. I was rarely replying to messages or making plans to see anyone. Each day I isolated myself, I had no drive or desire to do anything. I had forgotten what it felt like to smile and laugh, I became an expert at putting on a mask for the sake of others.
Training: I only ever looked forward to getting into the gym and switching off from what was going on around me. Other than my bed this was the one place I felt safe, where I had some control. I found the great thing about training was that I could see progress, I could see the results, and still had some ‘power’. Before you judge those of us who are committed to the gym as self-centred or superficial, realise that for many of us the gym is our escape, our sanity, and a place where we work not only on becoming strong physically but mentally as well.

“A well-built physique is a status symbol. It reflects the hard work you’ve put in…You can’t steal it, you can’t borrow it and cannot hold on to it without constant work. It’s from dedication, discipline, self-respect and dignity.” – Ashley Horner

Sleeping: Not a night went by where I didn’t wake from a nightmare or dripping with sweat. I would lay there staring out the window watching the lights flicker in the distance, wondering what was going on elsewhere in the world. I often considered getting up and going for a walk, but a part of me felt I’d never come back if I did. So I stayed put, lying there watching the hours pass by and reading nonsense on the internet. Ask me anything about 1990’s wrestling or where are the cast of Saved by The Bell now, that’s the kind of useless information I filled my mind with just to get me through the sleepless nights.

Love/Sex life: Personal I know, but those of you who have been through similar experiences, those of you who are depressed and for those of you reading who are just intrigued, sex becomes the last thing on your mind. If you can’t love yourself, if you can’t stand the person you have become and if you can’t even look at your own reflection without a feeling of hatred, how could you expect anyone else to feel any differently. I certainly didn’t feel ‘sexy’ and I had lost any sexual desire, besides I felt like I didn’t deserve pleasure.
In summary: I didn’t want to live anymore, but I also didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, I felt alone but the last thing I wanted was company.
I would wake each day with toxic thoughts and go to sleep each night feeling worse.

For those of you that can relate to any of the above, please remember this:
Some of us have been through things so traumatic that the human mind isn’t built to handle, but we fight and preserve every single day and night. If that’s not strength I don’t know what is.



Sometimes you must die a little inside in order to be REBORN and RISE again as a STRONGER and WISER version of yourself.
I started counselling; this was a huge step in the right direction I assure you. I’m not going to preach and say counselling is for everyone but what I will say is, talking helps.

I remember going to my first session a nervous wreck, a ‘shell’, scared and fearful, what if this doesn’t work? 

I’m not saying this will work for every person who is suffering, has suffered or will suffer, but for me IT DID.

I struck up a great relationship with my counsellor, my partner and I still to this day believe she was capable of magic. She managed to get me talking, opening up and delving so far into myself and my past that I became strong enough to tackle my problems and haunts head on.
I won’t go into much detail about my counselling sessions as each person’s will be different, and catered towards them, mine was personal to me.

One thing I do want to highlight is how I discussed my fear of not being believed.
I recall her asking...

“These people who you worry won’t believe you, do you care what they think? Those closest to you believe you, I believe you, you know IT happened so, these people you worry yourself over not believing you, do you actually care?”
I sat and thought on this and then answered,

“No” I replied truthfully,
She smiled and nodded and then hit me with a piece of ‘magic’ that I have stood by ever since,

“Then fuck them! You don’t give a shit what they think, so fuck them!” 

She was speaking to me on my level, and she nailed it.
So, for those of you reading this who question the sincerity of my story... FUCK YOU!

Over the weeks and months, I felt my confidence grow. The more I opened up and talked the more I felt myself rebuild.
I was leaving the house more, I was even going places and actually laughing, like genuinely laughing. I was enjoying life for what felt like the first time in a long time.
Everything began to improve, and people were starting to notice. I was taking better care of myself, I was looking and feeling better. I was sleeping again, albeit snoring like a bear, but I was sleeping again. Even my training improved and therefore I felt even better about myself.
I have opened up about my past to family (including my siblings who I worried about the most) and friends, all of who have been more supportive than I could ever have imagined.
Please believe me when I say those worries and concerns you have of being judged by those closest to you is just your mind playing tricks on you. These people care for you and WILL support you… and if for you this isn’t the case, then they’re not your people and you should know that there are others out there for you, and WE will support and care for you. 

I was no longer a ‘shell’ I had burst out and I’d grown… bigger and better than before. I regained my power.
As for work and being around HIM again, that changed too. No longer was I fearful. No longer was I powerless. I had the confidence to see HIM in the corridor and continue walking forward… I kept moving forward! I’d keep my head held high and my shoulders back, I wasn’t afraid anymore!
I recall him attempting to acknowledge me as we passed, and I just laughed out loud to myself and continued walking whilst shaking my head. I remember thinking,

‘You’re no one to me anymore, you’re nothing. You aren’t even worth my time. YOU are the past!’

I didn’t feel the need for revenge anymore, I didn’t feel anger or pain, through the help of counselling I had moved on. The past was the past, but there is a whole lot more of a future, the good will outweigh the bad.
I was enjoying my job again and could finally focus on getting things done, maybe not ‘their’ way but MY way, the right way.
I worked my notice and can honestly say I was sad to leave, not the place itself but those I had worked to help during my time there. I wish those people nothing but the best with their futures and hope they know that I am STILL always here to help them anyway I can.
As for the workplace itself, I hold no ill feelings towards them, I might not agree with how things were done but it has helped shape me into the stronger, wiser, more confident and caring person I am today, and for that, I am thankful.  
I am now working in a similar role for a different establishment whilst studying to become a counsellor, applying the skills I have learnt over the years and the knowledge I have gained to continue helping others to the best of my ability.

As for those of you wondering about how my partner did at university… well she only went and got a First-class degree with honours, was there ever really any doubting her!?
I can’t begin to tell you how proud of her I am/was, not only for gaining the best grade possible but for standing by me throughout each and every step of this journey. I saw the effects it had on her (she’s proper rubbish at hiding her emotions, but hey, that’s not a bad thing). I often worried things might become too much and her grades might slip, but she proved to me she is stronger than I ever gave her credit for, and for that I apologise (she too had a great support network). You cared for me in the darkest days of my life and you kept me fighting when I felt I had no fight left. I’ve spoken a lot about power and strength but YOU are a true hero, a Super Woman!

Oh, and as for my love/sex life, well that was back on track too, but we don’t need to get into the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’  or ‘ups’ and downs’ of that now do we.

I know earlier I said this wasn’t a fairy-tale, and that there is no happy ending, well, it’s true, partly… this isn’t a fairy-tale, but this IS the beginning of MY happy ending.

I am now training to become a counsellor myself, in the hope of helping others in THEIR ‘battles’ and to aid and support them to begin their own happy endings.
Now I am happier, more sociable, more outgoing, daring and less insecure than I have ever been before.
Are there still mornings I wake and feel low? Of course, but I now have the tools to fight back, and I want to help YOU equip yourself with the tools to fight back too!

To you the reader: Thank you for taking the time to read MY story. I’m not sure what the response will be, and I am sure it will be different for everyone. I can’t express how appreciative I am for anyone that has taken the time to sit and read my ramblings. You deserve a pat on the back. Again, thank you. May I please take a moment to also thank you in advance for anyone reading this that shares my story, the more this can the reach the more I hope it can help others, and for that I will be forever grateful.

To you my loved ones, my friends and my family: Thank you for your support throughout all of this. I appreciate this can’t have been easy to read. For those of you reading this for the first time, I assure you, this is the past. I don’t need sympathy or concern. I don’t want you to be angry or upset for what happened to me… I want you to be happy. Happy that I have come through this and now WE have a future together… lets make the most of it.

To my ‘crew’: Without their love my struggle would have been much harder than it was. Without even knowing it, these little fur babies brought happiness to my life when I needed it the most. Introducing you all to just two of the reasons I continued my fight…


Henry (the cat) and Rufus (the rabbit). I know I said no names would be mentioned but I cleared it with them, and they’re cool with it.

To you, the ones that took each step of this journey with me: Thank you for everything. Thank you for your thoughts, your opinions and your assistance. Thank you for your time and your encouragement. I will forever be grateful to each of you.

To you my counsellor: You are a true credit to the profession. I will never be able to thank you enough for all that you did. I guess all I can say is, Thank you.

To you the victims: You are the reason I have shared my story. I hope this gives you some courage and help’s you to face your own traumas if you haven’t already. Remember we cannot change our pasts, but we can MAKE our futures what we want them to be. Your abuser(s) WILL NOT define you. Reach out and seek help, it is there waiting for you, when YOU are ready. One day you also might tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through or have been through, and it will become part of someone else’s survival… Your past will not define YOU!

To you the male victims reading this: I don’t want to single out a gender, believe me, this is for everyone, but if I can just for a moment direct this towards the male readers There is no shame in accepting help. There is no definition of what a man should be so please don’t think you have to be ‘strong’, that it’s not okay to cry, show emotion or that you must ‘man-up’.
Men cry. Men breakdown. Men have suicidal thoughts. Men die by suicide. Men suffer with mental illness. It’s not unmanly to struggle. Gentlemen, it’s okay NOT to be okay. Don’t suffer in silence, it’s okay to talk.  
In the UK alone 84 men commit suicide each week, that’s 12 a day, one every 2 hours… Don’t become a statistic because of your mental health, become a survivor. WE are here to help and to listen when YOU are ready.

To you the ones supporting those who have/are suffering: I cannot thank you enough what you do, and I assure you neither can your loved one(s). Your support is what helps them get up and continue each day, even if some days it feels like you’re not helping, trust me, you are. Never give up on them and their struggle with mental illness. When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘WE’ illness becomes wellness.

To you the abuser(s): I am sure some of you reading this have unfortunately done things you may regret, perhaps you have forgotten about them and moved on, let me tell you, your victims haven’t! What might have been fun for you was YOUR victim’s hell. You might have enjoyed yourself for however long it lasted and now you’ve moved on, but YOUR victim(s) haven’t and for some likely never will. I wish I could give you some advice, but I don’t have anything left to say to you other than, karma isn’t a myth, it’s waiting for you.

To you the employer of someone struggling: Please remember that your employee is a person. If they are struggling, don’t be so careless, instead support them, not as an employer, but as a human being. Treat them how you would want a member of your family to be treated. Care for them and not for your protocols or to tick a few boxes.

To you MY abuser: YOU have had so much say over my life, without even knowing it, but not anymore. I have often wondered why you did what you did.
Was I an experiment?

Were you also being abused? Let me give you some advice if so, seek the help necessary.
I guess I’ll never know the answer, and I don’t need to.
I can’t say I will ever forgive you for what you did, but I can say, I am done with you.
YOU are the past, there is no room for YOU in MY future…




Thank you again one and all for taking the time to read MY story. Please feel free to make contact if you ever need someone… I am here to help anyway I can.

Love and respect,


Mark's mental health and well-being blog - Chasing Starlight

Mark's Facebook page - Chasing Starlight

If you have been affected by this and don’t feel you can talk to a family member, friend or myself please see some of the contact details I have listed below for different helplines:

Anxiety UK
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 09:30-17:30)

Bipolar UK
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 17:00-00:00)

Men's Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 09:00-18:00)

Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10:00-17:00 and 19:00-22:00, and 14:00-17:00 on weekends)

Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 09:30-16:00)

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Phone: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 16:30-22:30)
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most.
Peer support forum:

Information on child and adolescent mental health.
Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 09:30-16:00)

Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.
Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)
Phone: 0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)