A long road with a big red sky and sun in the distanceMy survival journey started the day that ‘choice’ was taken from me.  At the age of Fourteen I was sexually assaulted by 2 people that I thought of as “friends” from that day I have struggled to trust people.
At 14 we all think we are street wise and that we can take care of ourselves.  We all make poor choices, we all have regrets but we don’t all have the right to choose stolen from us.  The day of my attack felt normal, was normal in every way.  
I was with the group of friends that I had always hung out with.  The only difference was we were drinking far more than normal and smoking things we shouldn’t have been.  
As the night went on more and more of the group left and eventually there was just the 3 of us.  No big deal in my eyes and not even something that had not happened before.  Things ended badly for me that night.  I ended up in hospital for several days, had blood transfusion and surgery to repair my injuries.
Physically I recovered quickly considering.  No real reason not to, I was young and fit.  I had some counselling when I was younger but not a lot, it wasn’t really the done thing then! I chose not to speak to the police; I felt it was pretty much my own fault.  I made the choice to be alone with them, I made the choice to drink, I made the choice to smoke.  I must have been responsible surely.  So like so many other people I kept their names to myself, claimed I had no clue who had hurt me.
From that day forward my life spiraled downhill. Drink, drugs and I decided to give myself freely  to men so it couldn’t be taken from me, which resulted in me becoming a mother at 16.  Now don’t get me wrong my daughter is nearly 26 and I wouldn’t trade her for the world, in fact I think she could have saved my life.  She gave me a purpose and someone else to think about rather than how I felt about myself.
I decided the best way to cope was to put it out of my head! Yeah that didn’t really work out so well.  I went from crappy relationship to crappier until I met my husband who seemed to want me warts and all. 
I have spent years making myself unattractive by deliberately gaining weight, no one would want to take anything from me then.  I recognise now that I was sabotaging my life.  I spent years burying my hurt, anger, frustration, again that didn’t work out so well.  When I got to my 30’s I really started to melt down in so many ways.  Eventually something had to give and I took the step to speak to a counsellor.
I was referred to the local rape counselling service by my GP.  They were amazing, they gave me a voice, I felt like I could talk without being judged.  They gave me the courage to talk honestly with my mother about how let down I had felt.  I love my mother dearly, she is amazing but from a totally different era, a one where you just get on with things and don’t really talk about them.  For once she listened, I mean really listened. We talked, we cried, we shared how we both felt which was incredibly hard for both of us but I think we actually both benefited from it.
The day after I spoke to my mother she arrived at my house with a smart price type dinner service in a box! I have to be honest at first I was like ‘err thanks’ even though it was vile.  The she told me that she had brought them for me to smash the hell out of, in fact for us to smash the hell out of together.  God love that woman, we had the best time releasing some venom smashing plates, cups etc. 
From that day on each day has been about surviving.  Each thing I achieve feels massive, each choice I make feels OK because I know I made the choice.  My marriage has ended but that was my choice.  I am steadily losing weight again my choice.  I make more and more good choices for myself.  
Life isn’t perfect, in fact some days life is pretty grim but I can and will keep chipping away at my issues. The message from me is, talk to someone, smash things, rage and realise it’s NOT your fault.  
The choices that were taken from you were made by other people.