After the assault I could hardly function. I was a basket case thinking I was losing my job. I didn’t want to let on how impacted I was and my boss was not very understanding. He just wanted me to get it together or leave. There was no support. No one could talk to me about what to do about my work. The reality was that I wasn’t functioning and I needed to let the job go to get help. I quit my job and struggled to survive for a long time. I am still struggling but surviving better and growing stronger. If this sounds like you, don’t give up, look after yourself and reach out to people who care about you. If you have no one, find support in other ways, look for free services and peer support groups – they can help a lot.

I went to an employment agency and shared my situation. They were very supportive and helped me figure out the kind of work that I can do and supported me through to my first job. It was sharing my story and admitting that I needed help that opened the door for me. On the other side of the door was a compassionate employment counsellor willing to take a real interest in me as a human being.

I had to give up my job and go on welfare after the memories of my childhood abuse first surfaced. I was completely unable to function. It felt really shameful – the whole thing – being a victim – quitting my job – going on welfare. I thought about killing myself many times. Instead, I drank and got high to manage the pain. I realize these are not good long-term strategies, but they kept me alive. I share this just to say, do whatever you have to do to survive.

I drove myself hard to be wildly successful but at the cost of my family. I realize now that I worked like a demon because I was trying to outrun my childhood demons. I felt like such a loser because I was abused as a kid that I had to prove to everyone that I was not a fuck-up. After my partner left me because I was a workaholic, I had the wake-up call that allowed me to admit I have been running my whole life. I also think I just needed to be older. I wasn’t ready to confront the past until I was in my thirties. I think it is different for everyone.

I always wonder what I could have done with my life if I hadn’t been abused as a kid. Would I have finished high school, gone to university or college, had a career I loved? It is one of those questions without an answer. I hear other survivors ask this a lot. Don’t feel bad if it plagues you. This is the part of my journey I have had to accept. It’s hard. I didn’t do all those things and I will never know what might have been. What does give me comfort is reflecting on how far I have come in reclaiming my life. It takes courage and commitment to keep going and I have done that. I am a good and kind person with a lot of grit, and I believe this is an accomplishment that deserves to be recognized. I try to remind myself whenever I get into the wondering loop.