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”I am still on my healing journey, I’m now 53” is a story of change written by one of Quetzal’s beneficiaries. She answered questions, reflected on her healing journey, how it helped her to become calmer, and what she found through her journey: healing is not a linear thing but an ongoing journey of unraveling each issue at a different rate.

We want to thank the woman who wrote this piece for giving us permission to share it on our website. We invite you in turn to read and share her story.

And if you would like to share yours, fill the form here.

What were the main things you struggled with before counselling?

Before I started counselling, back when I was 18, I was angry, withdrawn, didn’t socialise properly with other people, I drank enough so I could sleep without dreaming and was both verbally and physically abusive to the males around me. I had very few friends and my motto was the best form of defence is a good offence. I had repressed the memories of the sexual abuse that I’ve been through and I didn’t understand why I was acting the way I did.

What was your experience of the counselling process?

My first set of counselling was very hard. It was in a group setting and it was easy to listen and help the others while doing very little work on my own issues. With later sets of therapy, I found them very upsetting and would find ways of talking about the easier parts rather than the ones that were the hardest issues. Finding the right counsellor is paramount, I found a lady that worked with me for 18 months and was my 3rd set of counselling. This lady helped me work through the outer layers and see that I had many issues because of my childhood trauma and even without remembering most of the trauma we were able to work on how my abuse still affected my actions and work on changing my reaction to situations.

What change did you see after your counselling journey?

I’m still on my healing journey and I’m now 53. I’ve found that each set of counselling helps me unravel each issue at different rates. I’ve learnt how to express myself without becoming verbally aggressive and be able to understand that my trauma was done TO me and NOT done by me. It’s helped me become calmer in some instances yet made me stop chasing the repressed memories and deal with how I behaved in the present.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I found talking about what I could, helped me realise that I wasn’t lying about my childhood and it did happen. I wasn’t alone in my suffering, sadly there are many more who have been through similar situations. I learnt about family dynamics, parenting and how abuse in childhood affects victims in the long term. I’ve learnt that a backward step isn’t failure but another chance to revisit the issues and rework how I see the damage and lies that my childhood left me with.

Space for your story in your own words

I am 53 and have been in counselling on and off since I was 18. I’ve found healing is not a linear thing, and that you can resolve one issue and still not be able to work on another.
Both my grandfathers were paedophiles, one was convicted but the other wasn’t and I’ve repressed those memories of them abusing me. My parents came from dysfunctional families and they passed it down to my brothers and I. I was abused by a 15yr old babysitter yet never told anyone as the fear of punishment for being downstairs after my father had told us to stay in bed was worse than the abuse. My middle brother also abused me and made me abuse the youngest brother.
It has taken me all my adult life to get where I am, I don’t know all the details of my childhood abuse, but I do know I have worked damned hard not to pass it on to my child. I struggle with emotions and don’t have much connection between head and heart which leaves me open to being called cold and hard-hearted, yet I’ve been able to help other survivors by sharing my experiences and what I’ve done to cope with the issues.

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