When I look in the mirror I can now really see myself again – it has taken more than 15 years to do this. Survive’s EMDR therapy has changed my life.

Jessica’s journey started with a relationship that she thought she wanted. She had reached a time in her life when her friends were all settling down into long-term relationships and starting their own families. She was heading into her thirties and wanted the same. When she met a charismatic older man who was kind, intelligent and shared a similar Christian background, she wanted to get to know him more.

They had loads in common and everything indicated that this could be a relationship that would last. The criticism directed at Jessica started with comments on what she was wearing or that she enjoyed going out too much. This was easily put down to the age gap between her and the man she was dating. Then it became that bit irrational – a meal cooked and loved on one day would be intensely disliked on another. The erratic behaviour meant Jessica became more and more uncertain of things and self-doubts about her own judgement developed.

On a medical level there were complications too as she had endometriosis. The condition meant her cycles were irregular and extreme. Surgeries were needed to help her deal with it. The fatigue associated with this condition and the extreme cycles meant she was not always able to do things. Just asking the man she had been regularly dating to have a take away instead of a home prepared meal led to intense heated arguments which she described as World War Three.

The cycles and surgeries led to situations where her partner would call her unclean and refuse to share a bed with her. When he was not seeing her, he would call her in the early hours of the morning and expect her to speak to him. On one occasion she was dragged out of bed to be shouted at and be told that she was not a proper girlfriend. He would regularly shout at her and belittle her as a woman. On one of those evenings, he raped her.

Jessica felt numb inside and dehumanised.  She also needed to end this relationship and she did. She retreated into herself and threw herself into work. The numbness remained as did the sick feeling in her stomach. She chose to avoid relationships and an experimental one-night stand made her feel as if she had been violated all over again.

When the pandemic occurred, Jessica like everyone else, spent more time on her own. Lockdown offered time at home to reflect and this turned to what had happened more than a decade ago. She had undergone a hysterectomy so her medical condition eased and she needed to do the same for feelings that simply did not go away.

Conversations with a close family friend led her to opening up to her parents. They actively encouraged her to find a way through. A referral to Survive was made by her doctor after she completed an adult mental health assessment. Matching to a Survive senior counsellor followed a further assessment by the charity. Significant steps forward were made in a ten-week programme. She embarked on an EMDR programme in a second round of therapy, and this truly helped Jessica change her life. Her relationship with her parents grew in strength as her father supported her and her mother listened to developments session after session. Her friends all remarked on the change.

Jessica can now look in the mirror and see the self that she is and have the confidence that she felt when she was much younger. Survive therapy has changed her life so much that she is able to embark on relationships but set the boundaries that sustain her self-worth. There is a renewed thrill in going to the shops and choosing an outfit that reflects an attractive woman who owns her own life.

‘After such a long time we were really pleased when Jessica started her journey with Survive. It was a difficult period but all the time little glimpses of the real Jessica surfaced. As, parents, we cannot praise the staff at Survive highly enough. Finally, this summer Jess’s journey was complete and we were so proud of her. Thank you so much Survive. We have our daughter back, and more importantly you gave Jess her life back.’  Jessica’s mum


Sexual abuse counselling services York


I was in my 40s when I reached crisis point and was unable to function.

The abuse happened when I was a child and Survive was my last hope.


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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