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Quetzal shares a Story of Change to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence running till the 10th of December on Human Rights Day. The global theme for this year campaign is: “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”.

”Healing from trauma is a daily choice I make” was written by a female survivor supported through the Breaking the Silence Initiative. The female survivor was keen to share her story and show that despite the abuse she experienced at the hand of families, with the right support, she was able, each day, to make the conscious decision to heal from trauma.

We want to thank her for writing her story of change and highlighting the value of counselling in her life. We want to thank her counsellor for all her support. We also want to thank all our supporters for taking action, fundraising, and donating for Quetzal so together we can end violence against women and heal those who’ve experienced it.

End Violence Against Women Now by Sharing her Story so more can know that violence against women and girls needs to be stopped and that healing is possible.

Healing from trauma is a daily choice I make

I gave up… After a mental breakdown, seeing 3 different counsellors over a decade with no success, I just gave up. I mean, for me, it was a tick-box exercise anyway as I thought “if I get counselling, they’ll make it all go away, then everything will be perfect”.  Nope – that wasn’t the case. It was never going away.  So I parked it all in my head, and pretended I was ok, functioning through life, playing roles, wearing masks – this meant taking drugs, smoking, drinking, partying during the nights, and holding down a job, and being mum to my children during the day, whilst supporting my husband through his studies; not to forget playing a puppet to my narcissistic in-laws… and when I felt low, I’d self-harm to ease the pain. To me, this was my “stability”.

I got to age 39 and I came face-to-face with “him” – the man who sexually abused me at age 6-8. I saw him the day after my dad died – the alcoholic dad that was emotionally and physically abusive to me and my mum; the man that was supposed to protect me. My mum on the other hand did nothing. After all, I was the unwanted child so why would they protect me?

And what happened next is I fell into a deep dark place, feeling afraid, helpless, and vulnerable. I wasn’t alone though – I had my demons in my head to keep me company, holding me back, ensuring I was unable to find a way out. My demons kept me in that dark place whilst I put a smile on for the world to see, quietly in the fight of my life to remain present.  No one would know… Then everything fell apart.

After being referred to the Crisis Team and having to wait forever for a referral to yet another counsellor, I took a different route and met my counsellor at Quetzal.  This angel saved my life. After years of therapy using an integrative humanistic approach, I became a new person. My counsellor changed me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for her. I knew after a few sessions that I could tell her anything – don’t get me wrong, I was very wary! But that was down to trust issues. But finally, in my 40s, I was starting to heal.

She broke things down for me; made me understand the links to my thoughts and behaviours, giving me clarity and making me recognise it wasn’t ok for me to be that unwanted child; it wasn’t ok for my dad to be an abusive alcoholic; it wasn’t ok for my mum to be un-nurturing and vacant; it wasn’t ok for me to be passed between one house to another enduring further sexual abuse whilst both parents were hospitalised with severe alcohol poisoning; it wasn’t ok for me to be dealing with narcissistic in-laws. All I ever had was people controlling me – in my childhood, growing up, and after I got married. I didn’t know any different. I just wanted to be free from control but I didn’t know what that felt like.

My counsellor helped me understand why I played roles and wore masks; the mother, the wife, the daughter, the sister, the daughter-in-law, the work colleague.  She helped me comprehend why not having an active mother in my life made me throw myself into being the best mother I could possibly be to my incredible children. But she also helped me come face-to-face with the person that doesn’t have a role or wear a mask. Who is she?

I’m still not there, but without Quetzal, I would not be self-aware – this was the biggest change for me. It made me see myself from an entirely different perspective. It scared me yet made me feel empowered in my own ability to get through life with my battles. It helped me set boundaries.

She allowed me to breakdown how things felt for me and to gently embrace that inner abandoned, forgotten child frozen in time. Through an inner child lens, I could see my unresolved trauma and emotional wounding that required validation, support, care, protection and re-parenting.

My emotions and memories were categorised into “seashells” for clarity. She helped me understand that my demons will never go away; they are a part of me, and that is ok. So together, we tied them up and locked them in a cage. Now and then, my demons will rattle the cage and even try and escape. But I have been given the techniques to slowly guide them back to where they belong.

Healing from trauma is a daily choice I make. I learnt there is no quick fix and that healing is a life-long journey of self-discovery and reconnecting my mind with my body.

More Stories of Change

Watch Now our stories of change produced through the Breaking the Silence Initiative and Share them. With your support, more female survivors can know about our free counselling support.