Survivors Stories

Monica's Story

This is always a difficult thing to ask of anyone...the question tell me about yourself?
Where do you begin? What do you say and what do you leave out?
I decided that I am not just going to talk about what I studied and what degrees, knowledge and skills I have. I have all those.

The real questions are: Who am I? What is my story? How did I get to where I am today?

I believe in being open and honest and not staying quiet about what happens in life. I am sharing my story below to encourage people to seek professional help when life gets out of control and you don’t know how to handle a situation.

When I was 18 I was raped by someone I thought I could trust, someone I called a friend.

Even though I knew that being raped didn’t define who I was and at some level I understood that it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t realise (or maybe didn’t want to accept) how that one night’s trauma could influence my life.

It influenced my choices with who I had relationships with, it started a cycle of bad and abusive relationships (friendships and romantic), it became my “comfort zone” because I didn’t believe I deserved better.

It influenced my dreams, my thinking about life, my emotions. I would find myself crying for hours, not knowing why, being mad at everyone around me and at life in general. I would smile when I was around people, pretending that I was fine, even though sometimes I could feel myself breaking on the inside.

For years I felt confused and not certain that what I remember really happened, I felt ashamed, guilty to the point where I was starving myself, punishing my body by spending hours in the gym. I know what it feels like to have those flashbacks and bad memories fill your day at the most unexpected times. I know what it feels like to be scared of the dreams you might have when eventually you fall asleep at night.

I felt that it was my fault and that something was wrong with me.

I started studying psychology when I was 27, maybe as a way to understand myself and what I was going through or maybe to find answers about why people hurt each other in so many ways.

Even with the knowledge I was gaining through my studies I still kept quiet and tried everything I could think of to justify my choices, actions and emotions. Like many people do.

I tried to be strong and told myself over and over again that I could handle my life and that it had nothing to do with what happened in my past and that after so many years I should be “over it”. I believed I could control everything happening in my life. I mean I understand psychology, how could I not be in control? I was wrong...

Combine all the above while struggling with depression and you get the “old” me.

I know what it feels like to hit that “rock bottom”, because I did. HARD. I found myself at a place where I had only two choices. Get help from professionals or continue walking in the wrong direction. I chose to get help.

I saw professionals to work through the things I couldn’t work through on my own.

Was it easy? NO

Was it painfull? YES

Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY

I had to go through my own journey to find the “new” me.

I realised that I wanted to be a survivor; not a victim anymore. I realised that although my body was hurt; my heart, my soul, my dreams and the aspirations I had before the rape and dark depressed days was still mine (maybe a bit bent out of shape, but still mine) and it can only be taken away from me if I allowed it.

It is my past, my choices, life experiences, the fact that I took those first steps to study what I always knew in my heart I was meant to study and asking for help that led me to where I am now.

Through counselling I learned that I am not perfect, that there is no such thing as perfect, but that I can strive to be the best me every day. I learned that I am also human and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, that it is ok to be happy! I learned that I am real, true and honest and that inspite of the challenges I’ve been through I have a lot to be grateful for and a lot of reasons to be proud of who I am.

I learned that I am strong, which doesn’t mean I don’t have “down-days”. I do and on those days I know I need to fight a bit harder to stay positive.

Your life always matters and is worth fighting for.

xx Monica xx