Women's portraitureFrom the age of 6 to 12.5, I was sexually abused by both my grandfathers, not at the same time but I moved from one grandfather to the next.

When I finally disclosed the abuse and it came out in the open, I received absolutely no support from my parents. No one in my family believed me and I was literally left to deal with everything on my own. I was emotionally abandoned and ostracised.

It wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 I made a very powerful life-saving decision; to deal with my pain and to re-create and unlock who I truly was. I wanted to remove the culture of silence that surrounds abuse and I was determined not to continue these habits, traits and cycle onto the lives of my own children.

In short I wanted a better future for myself. In my mind I visualised everything I wanted in my life. I had no idea HOW but I knew that if I kept to my vision I would get there eventually. But achieving the vision was where the many challenges were. In order to get there I had to let go of old habits, recognise the beliefs and behaviours I no longer wanted, that I had learned from my faulty/dysfunctional upbringing and re-learn new behaviours, acquire new skills and develop new beliefs. I literally had to look at what I was doing and ask myself repeatedly over the course of the years, “Is this behaviour getting me what I want?” I had to have incredible self awareness and see what I was doing and what I had to change, to be who I wanted to be.

The pain that arose was hard to deal with. Having absolutely no family support, with parents not believing the abuse, I had no safety net when life got tough. So for me the key became seeing that my pain had a purpose. I spent a lot of time (many suicidal thoughts…nights were the toughest) sitting with my pain and questioning it. As it was my firm belief that pain was there for a reason and if I could unlock it and understand it, then I could work with it to diminish it. I wasn’t scared of the pain, as much as I was scared of my future if I didn’t address it.

Unlocking my true self and working through my pain meant slowly shedding parts of me that I had created to protect myself; like creating situations where I would self-sabotage, run or fight with people who really cared. It was a whole lot of trial and error; back and forth, recognising traits I had learned and carried in my childhood that were often destructive and wanting to get rid of them and learn new ways of trusting people and just being. I had NO idea of who I was, what I was capable of and even what I was good at…I had built up so many layers over the years of abuse to keep myself hidden. Discovering me, involved taking chances, learning new skills, risk being exposed, trying new ways, listening to me (my true self) and learning to trust in myself.

Going through everything has been worth it, because I am finally there. I succeeded in creating the person I was born to be and I know for certain that the dysfunction I grew up with has stopped with me. It was a very long hard battle but it was worth it to know I have created a normal, loving, safe environment for myself and my family and that I have the power to ensure it stays that way. That was my vision; to break the long cycle of abuse and I achieved that. And that is something I’m very proud of.

Beck, Australia