In the year 2000, aged 20, I was sexually assaulted by a man I had thought of as one of my best friends at the time.

I am writing this now as twenty years later I am finally in a place where I feel comfortable and confident enough to say it aloud and make what I’ve thought of for so long as a gigantic step.

I am writing this now as a sign of how well and how healthy I am now. I am liberated and I am free.

I am not writing this looking for sympathy, I need to do this for me, and it has taken me a long, long time to get to this point.

I know lots of people will judge from their own viewpoint but being able to open up about my experience is not only a personal step of mine but also one with which to help others, and telling my story does that. I will go on and do more to help as I can, but this is the first step.

I’ve struggled for the past twenty years, really struggled sometimes, and I still do and I will always do to some extent, but I am now writing this feeling as a great weight has been lifted.

It took me some time originally to find the courage to go the police. I was then deeply let down and shown up at my place of work by them. I was self-destructive and I tried to call out for help in the wrong ways. I felt let down by most of those around me. I lost my job, lost my driving license, and lost myself.

I am a stubborn bastard though and I really hate being beaten, so I have tried to fight. I don’t want him to beat me. It is one of the most tiring and difficult fights of my life. I tried to fight it alone and I started doing things. Focusing on something. Something else. Achieving things in one sense but not dealing with the turmoil inside me.

I went back to education and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Zoology. I quit smoking (I had smoked thirty a day for around 12 years) and ran the London Marathon raising a few thousand pounds for charity. I then ran subsequent marathons and distance runs. I started a new career which was also on the other side of the world. I obtained a Master’s degree in International Development and Social Science and throughout this time I consider myself successful professionally and academically.

I am incredibly proud of those achievements but they did not help me get rid of what had happened to my brain. What had been put in there by the person I had completely trusted, and that which I hadn’t asked for.

Since that time I’ve subconsciously developed many self defence mechanisms, making the trusting of new people very very difficult at even very casual and momentary meetings. All this happens on a sub-conscious level and I am continuing to work hard on getting better at this.

Some of you on here only know me at certain points, different lows, different highs, different times and different places and different situations. I have made lots of friends along the way but I am sorry to ALL those I’ve met since that day as I haven’t, nor will ever be myself before the assault again. And I feel a certain dishonesty to you all, part of living with a secret. Indeed, Nicole is the only person I’ve met since then that I have been able to be totally open with. She is astoundingly astonishing and is the light in so much dark. She is completely my other half and Beaumont and her have helped me more than I will ever be able to explain to them. They are something good, and something that hasn’t gone bad.

After a couple of years I had realised that I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own, something that those who know me well will understand was very hard to take for me, but I tried counselling.

It wasn’t for me, and again I felt let down and on my own. It wasn’t until over ten years later when I couldn’t go on alone anymore that I tried again, and that led me to a Dr that changed my life.

I think of those ten years plus as lost really, as in a way I feel like I wasn’t really present. As if it wasn’t really me.

It wasn’t until around 2013 that I finally realised I couldn’t do it all by myself and I needed to try for help again. I sought help in Taipei and after a mixed result I was referred and it was then I found the Dr that changed my life. We connected and I was able to talk to her and she was able to help me. It was incredible and I owe her everything. After being lucky enough to find her I saw what a mistake I had made in giving up after my first unsuccessful bout of counselling, and that I just needed to be compatible and I am proud I kept trying until I found the right professional for me.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say, as I just said, I have absolutely needed professional help to get where I am today, and I am now well aware that it is the having of professional help which makes me well and healthy and I will not hesitate again in the future if things get too tough sometimes, but I guess I have always known since the assault, deep down, that I’d have to fix myself and it was my responsibility. Sometime. But it was always not yet. Do something. Focus on something. Something else. But not that. Knowing that was some amount of comfort to me, that I was able to see what I needed to do so I could do it when I was ready. It really wasn’t easy but writing this feels like I have been able to make that step and I am helping myself at last.

It has never been easy for me at all to talk about real and personal things but I have wanted to write this for a long time, and I now have got both the time and the courage.

Accepting that the assault is part of me now is still very hard and maybe I will never do so, but writing this is a big sign of progress along that road. Thank you for reading.

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