i didn’t know my own strength

Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it contains references to rape.

“have courage & be kind”

when I was young I was bullied for a very long time throughout the whole of my childhood, it started at around 11/12 years old and ended when I was in my late teens. It was very difficult, my parents didn’t know I kept it from them till I couldn’t anymore. I was 12 years old when I came home from school one day to find out that my big brother had passed away, I didn’t quite understand I had questions in my head that wasn’t getting answered because I couldn’t quite put the words together it was like I just ignored it because it was easier that way for me personally. As I started high school I was getting on great, I was friends with the most popular girl in the school I was shy, kept myself to myself and was really enjoying my new chapter in life, it was around the second year of high school when everything got took away from me. My ‘friends’ that I had, turned on me and because the popular girl that was once my friend found it laughable that I had lost a family member. People would join in, most would join in because they were afraid what would happen to them if they didn’t. They’d call me names, hit me and find anything possible to do to me. I remember once they got a boy to come and grope me and I couldn’t do anything about it, I ran off. They’d actually turn up at my house and cause me trouble, in my shopping centre they’d see me and start bullying me. It was horrible, my mum witnessed a hell of a lot because out of the house I’d always be with her, she knew at this point that I was getting bullied I tried my best to keep it to myself. It got to the point where I couldn’t carry on going to school I took 2 years out of school, no one seemed to bother that I did that un till after the 2 years we got a knock at the door asking why I hadn’t been going to school. After a while I got into a new school for the time being and I didn’t like it, I then joined my chosen school that I wanted to join but it wasn’t till I was in the second to last year so the work I had to do was very hard considering I missed out on a lot. That fresh start and that school was okay, very difficult but I felt some what normal again. At this point I realised I had anxiety I was alone a lot I felt so invisible I had no idea what the work was about I was just taking it all as it comes, I did make friends in the end and I am so very grateful for them. I started to go out at the weekends or after school with my friends and they’d drink and be all about boys where as I would just be enjoying the moment because I wasn’t use to all of this. One night we all went out and they left me to be with boys so I was making my way back home very upset I then bumped into someone and ended up going to a pub I seen someone I knew there and she got me a drink what I thought was water, time went on and I was very drunk a fight had happened and again.. I was making my own way home, alone. I realised I was getting followed by someone from the pub so I made all the shortcuts that I knew to make it home but it didn’t help and I then got raped that night. I never told anyone till a few days later, I went to the police and everything came together about that night. It turned out that he had his eyes on me all night and it is thought that he had planned that he was going to rape me. As I was dealing with this I was still attending school but this time I got isolated from everyone because I couldn’t face anyone, I was in a room by myself with my work and I felt very safe and secure there.

As time has gone on, I’m feeling very low in myself and everyday I’d wonder why has all this happened to me? As I came out of school with hardly GCSE’s and no idea where to go next, I went to a college for people that are struggling I met my best-friend there and I loved my time there, I then joined another college and I chose Art. I came out with a pass but as I was enjoying my time here and loved doing Art I realised in the canteen my bully from high school had joined my college. I chose not to go and do my next level, I couldn’t possibly go through all that in college. At this point I stayed at home, I lived in my bedroom and did barely anything everyday. I was safe in my room, no one could get me and it was my comfort blanket. I was lost.

I’m now in my middle 20’s and I have recently took 2 courses and passed them both, my first course was Level 2 understanding children and young people’s mental health, I passed it and enjoyed it so much. My second course was Level 3 counselling skills and I passed that and again, I loved it. I now have found my feet and know what I want to do, I’d love to be a counsellor and help children and young people and I won’t stop til I get there.

What I don’t think I ever understood was my own strength, I tried to take my own life at points, no counselling sessions was helping and I never felt okay in doing anything till now. You can’t force anything and you have to let it be. Everything happens for a reason and I believe all this has happened to me so that I can help the people that are also going through hard times. I have anxiety, PTSD and OCD. I truly believe all these will be manageable one day, I am still struggling but I am further than I ever expected to be. In life, my mum has been my best-friend and she always will be. My beautiful house rabbit that I had for 12 years helped me through those tough times she sadly passed away and now I have a beautiful Lhasa Apso that is doing the same. An animal can truly bring you so much happiness and I am forever grateful for the both of them.

After the trauma, it’s really like re-building yourself and I think that is really powerful.

I think it’s important to remember you will truly get through anything in time, there is no rush and you can feel so pressured into this but it’s all about when you are ready. It’s took me years to get here today and I’m glad I am here today and realised what I want to do, eventually.

I currently have a vision board with images of what I want out of life and where I want to be, I write in my diary most days and I have recently referred myself to CBT therapy. I still enjoy most my time in my bedroom and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My heart is with those who struggle every day and my message to you is, it will get better even if you feel like it won’t. Just like me, you are stronger than you think, believe in yourself!


Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.

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Abby Whittaker