The Survivor – Vikki

"For the first time in my 35 years on this earth, I felt heard."

“Survive provided a safe space for me to finally stop being defined by my experiences and the emotions they brought with them. I am now learning to see myself for who I really am, and I like me! The world has turned from black & white, to the most vibrant of colours.

I experienced childhood sexual abuse at a very, very young age and I remember thinking to myself when a little older “I need to make myself repulsive, then maybe it will stop”. So I did, I turned to food. I would eat and eat and eat, hiding wrappers and packets in jacket pockets/under my bed and so on. I also dressed in baseball caps, big jumpers and tracksuit bottoms because I thought these would save me. Surely he would stop now?

My mental health suffered. I felt un-lovable, not worthy, a waste of space. I felt angry, confused, sad all at the same time and no matter how much I tried, I could not shake these feelings. The years of intermittent abuse stopped when I was 11, but my mental health continued to spiral. My eating was out of control and as much as I recognised this, I could not stop the cycle as it was the one thing that made me feel safe. I sought various forms of counselling and therapy as I got older, even went to my GP for medication and these forms of support were invaluable for helping with other life experiences, however I was just unable to see myself as anything other than a disgusting inconvenience to the world. I was described at times as moody, over-sensitive and ‘no fun’ which I accepted as being how I was meant to be. In my mind, it was obviously how I was born to be.

The sense of being an inconvenience was overwhelming, constantly feeling I was in the way of others, was significant. Even a trip to the supermarket for example, resulted in me feeling guilty that I had taken a parking spot because other people deserved it more than me, apologising for being on an aisle if other people were on there because I would be in their way. Putting that last loaf of bread back because what gives me the right to take something that someone else wants. I had zero self-respect, self-worth or rights. These feelings were constant and if I ever experienced anything positive, I would automatically self-sabotage because I wasn’t allowed to feel happy, good things were not to happen to me.

At 33, I started with anxiety attacks and I sought support through Occupational Health at my workplace, who referred me to Survive, and this is where my journey to the future began….

For the first time in my 35 years on this earth, I felt heard. Not only listened to but actually heard. I could finally breathe and it felt surreal, like I had never taken a breath before but I knew I wanted to feel it again and again as it felt amazing!

Survive provided me with a safe space to re-connect with the little girl who was within me, but who had been hidden deep within for self-protection.

I am safe, I am alive and with Survive’s support, I am ready to thrive. My past will always be a part of my story, and that is ok but what it won’t be, is my future. I am taking small steps to alter my relationship with food and I am finally beginning to feel that I have a place in this world.”


Names have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.

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