Life And Hope Beyond Sexual Abuse – My Wife’s Story
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With the new direction that Small Courage is going, I thought it would be fitting that I kick off our first interview with somebody that I know very well, love dearly and who has a ton of courage: My wife, Sophia!
Just yesterday we celebrated her 31st birthday – and while we’ve known each other for nearly 6 years (we married in February, right before the Covid:19 lock-down), I’ve learned just how diverse the word courage is through the lense of her stories – one of them being detailed below. Over the years of our relationship, I’ve listened to her first hand account of being a victim to stalking, harrassment and even sexuall assualt. To this day I don’t understand how she’s battled through to come out the other end as not only a functioning member of society but an all round thriving, beautiful woman, wife and mother of strength.
Born and bred from Bradford in the UK, a pretty rough part of England, she quickly had to learn of another word: Survival. The world can be a very evil place to be in, yet people like her shine as a beacon of light to those who believe there is only grey clouds upon grey clouds within the circumstance. This reality of evil can claim peoples very lives. Evil wanted to claim Sophia’s but God was faithful to pull her out of the mire and onto the safety of solid rock to stand on.
This is her story…
Almost 10 years ago, whilst doing my nursing degree at university, I was faced with an intruder in my student accommodation. Not a stranger, he was somebody that I knew. He was much bigger and stronger than I was, and a real danger to me. He held me hostage in my house where I was residing, all alone as I was the last remaining student still living there over the summer holidays. Hours went by and after being raped and attacked by him, through shattered glass and furniture strewn all on the floor, I summoned the strength to just run… Jumping from a bedroom window, I ran for my life.
Days after this night, turned into weeks, he was arrested but released on bail – I did not feel safe, not only was I dealing with the trauma of the incident – but I faced continual stalking and harassment from this psychopath, even though i was given safety alarms by the police he was relentless and i just did not feel safe. Eventually I succumbed to the trauma and I dropped into a pit.
“Suicidal, feeling hopeless with no strength left in me to fight, while riddled with fear and torment.”
I was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Sheffield where I stayed for many weeks, repeatedly trying to kill myself. During this time my sister also passed away and my whole family was ripped open in despair. All around, there was fear fuelled sadness, and brokenness. At that time, I could not see a way out. I could not see life past the days I was repeatedly living on loop in my head, from what had all happened.
I can’t say there was a defining conversation that rescued me from that pit. I can’t say I saw a flashing light or even that I was uplifted by an angel. I do know however, that I had many a people surrounding me in prayer during those dark days.
“I know that the strength and courage to lift me out of that pit was not a natural one, but I did have to make a choice.”
I had many decisions to make after that night from that month as an inpatient at the hospital. Would I return to the same university to continue with my studies? Would I let this psychopath steal my future? What would my future even look like?
I had to take one small step at a time and cling on to every small victory – with times trusting in those around me to make decisions for me, leaning on the shoulders of those that love me and that could bear the weight of my weakness. I had to really force myself to get up some days. Sometimes I made bad decisions but looking back now, every decision I made helped me grow and heal.
“Eventually I had enough strength to be able to stand on my own two feet and I could see past the grey clouds.”
I had a realization one day, that what happened to me will always be there. The facts wont ever change and the trauma won’t ever fully go away. But what I can do is live my life and not let that incident steal anything more from me. The path that was destined for me before all this happened was still mine! And I will walk it! I know my past does not dictate my future. The incident that happened, as horrible as it was, does not define me and I can move forward with my life and can one day be happy again.
4 Aspects of Healing Through Trauma
1. Time to Heal
Allow yourself to heal. Sounds overly simple, but you owe your former self that much. We all heal differently too; I’m still healing today; it doesn’t have a particular time slot. I began therapy not so long ago and it helped me so much to be able to talk as an open box after I closed it off all those years ago.
2. Feel Your Grief
Allow yourself to go through the cycle of grief for what happened. Whatever you want to feel – feel it. But DO NOT stay here:
Yes be angry, yes feel the injustice and yes feel the pain you feel – but do not stay in that place as mentioned in point 2. Do not unpack your bags in that valley because this is no place to set up home. Forgive those that have inflicted you, not for their sake but for your own. Unforgiveness harbours so much tension and negativity within the body that releases toxins that then can manifest physically in the body.
4. Make a Choice
Most importantly know that when faced with trials we have a choice – We can give in and surrender, or we can fight and move forward. It’s not what happens to us that defines who we are, it’s what we decide to do with it. Our choices define our character, so never give up!
Keep going, keep healing because you never know when your test can become your testimony, and then in turn the lives that you will be able to touch.
I went back to university and completed my studies graduating with a nursing and social work degree. I now work as a qualified nurse amongst a great team of people in the care sector. I am mum to two young girls and have a precious home set up. I also not only found freedom but i found happiness. I walked a path I vowed never to walk in those dark days – down the aisle as i learnt to trust again. I married a wonderfully patient, loving man who has shown me life through a lense i never saw before.
Life can still be tough some days but the future is bright, even for somebody who has been through these experiences that looked only like dead end streets. There is now more life than ever before.