The first time you are called stupid you laugh it off. By the hundredth time, you start to believe it may be true and by the thousand time, you are convinced, it is true.

This is all the softening up so that you become vulnerable. That vulnerability takes on a life force of its own as you go down a spiral of lies from the person who claims to love you the most in the world.

You may be really successful once you step out of the door to your home and build a little self-esteem but it quickly disappears as you receive a blow to the head, a kick to the side and in my case, a horse whip to my back. With my baby screaming at the top of his voice in the background, I took it all to protect my son.

The shaking lasted for days after the attacks and masked almost by the disbelief that this could happen to me. The stupidity was even apparent to me when I saw tears from my husband in the promise that this would not happen again. Only to find just a couple of days later him bragging to his friends that he had gone “ape” in attacking me.

The pattern of violence would go in six-month cycles, with it almost becoming a relief from the psychological abuse when I was left with bruises. As I moved close to leaving his need for control heightened. Taking money from me, ensuring he could always find me and ultimately one night, he raped me with his only comment being: “You are a writer, you can now really describe marital rape.”

A part of my soul died that evening as I bathed my body. But somewhere a determination arrived. That determination took me away from him, a divorce and set me on a career path that would allow me to see the world and deliver a body of work that I am proud of. Probably more important is my son who is now grown up and succeeding in the world of finance. I have a solid, caring marriage of twenty years. My time is now in fostering – finding ways to reach children who have been traumatised through a deep understanding of what it means to be vulnerable.

THE SURVIVOR - JANE

I was referred to Survive by my mental health social worker. I had become too ill to work.

Fragmented memories in the form of flashbacks from seven years of child sexual abuse flooded my waking hours.

THE SURVIVOR - CHLOE

I was seven when I went to visit a friend of my parents. He sexually abused me before offering me some of his wife’s jewellery.

He then frightened me by saying I would be in real trouble if anyone found out.

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