Please note that this article contains details that some readers may find depressing.
In 1981 I was sexually abused by the restaurant owner who made friends with my family while on vacation overseas. I was nine years old. I had no idea what had happened to me that night or that it would be a trigger later in my life.
I lived with my mother and stepfather, but every other weekend I would spend
with my birth father. My parents separated when I was around three years old and I was happy with my life – I didn’t know anything else.
Some of my earliest and happiest memories were of the weekends with my father. I adored him; He was my hero, someone I couldn’t wait for. He had a wink and would make me laugh. I loved him very much. But that should change.
In 1984, when I was 12, my father picked me up for the weekend. After a short drive, he stopped the car. He told me that there was a “problem in our relationship”. I feel sick.
I wasn’t sure what he meant until he called the next night and told me he couldn’t have a relationship with me until I’m older.
I hung up the phone and ran out of the house with my mother and stepfather, tears streaming down my face. In no time at all, my hero was gone. I was devastated.
My dad who left me has influenced my relationships ever since. Fearing the consequences, I struggled to make decisions for a long time. Life became a sea of darkness; I was a nervous wreck and suffered from problems with the task. I got off the rails at school, at home, and with myself. I was deeply insecure, vulnerable, had low self-esteem, and was dying to be loved and needed.
I lost my memory for a large part of the time and cried all the time. The once happy child faded and became a withdrawn, nervous and sad girl in her place.
High school was going to be a troubling time and I had no enthusiasm. It wasn’t long before I was classified as a “juvenile offender” and sent to a child psychologist. I also had a weekly meeting with one of my teachers, but it was a waste of time – I just cried and walked around the truth, too scared to speak up.
In 1985, at the age of 13, I got into a sexually abusive relationship with a much older man who was known to my family up to that point and whom I trusted fully. He took advantage of me, cared for me carefully, and became my friend – I think he became my missing father figure.
He showered me with affection and gifts. But there was a price to be paid; I was humiliated, tortured, raped, and manipulated. He controlled my every move, followed my bus to school and watched me walk through the gates. He would be there when I got on the bus to get home. He was obsessed. He would manipulate me to sneak out of my house in the middle of the night. He would give me alcohol and drugs and then take advantage of me.
My school days suffered, I became addicted to pain killers to numb the hangover. I drank a lot, smoked, took drugs, laxatives, and became bulimic. I was lost and broken with suicidal thoughts.
I trusted this older man and no one else. Looking back is a great thing, and I can see now how easily this came about. I was a sitting duck, a child abandoned by her birth father, vulnerable and devoid of self-esteem.
If I had my life back I would prefer not to know what I have, but I have found my strength to express myself, to stand upright, and I have learned to use my voice to support others
In 1987, at the age of 15, I began to distinguish right from wrong, and I gathered the strength to move away from him – but it wasn’t easy. He was everywhere I went. He threatened me and sometimes I wasn’t sure if I would survive his temper, but other days I didn’t care if I lived or died. I whirled into an abyss of darkness, afraid to speak and afraid to let go of the secrets within me.
For years I’ve wondered why I am allowing this – why haven’t I talked about it? I learned that abusers are good at making you feel like everything is okay, and while I was scared of him and what happened, I was more scared that no one would believe me.
Through my years of recovery in therapy, I have learned to forgive, I have understood that my abusers need help, and I understand that I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I think I was in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time, but I was taught valuable lessons that can now help others. I am always open to therapy and encourage others to express themselves. It’s ok not to be ok We cannot fight pain with pain.
I have done A-Z therapy over the years. I had regular counseling, but I felt that hypnotherapy and psychotherapy helped the most – although it was difficult. Some days my therapist would take me back to difficult situations (with my consent) to help me release locked memories, and other days we had gentle sessions to aid my recovery.
I remember one particular hypnotherapy session where we delved deeper into my closed memories. I can categorically tell you that this was the hardest day of my life – but also the best day. So much pain was resolved and after a few quiet days of rest, I began to regain my strength.
I have tried many treatments to aid my state of mind including acupuncture, meditation, yoga, clairvoyance, EFT, and reflexology. When I feel shaky now, I usually check in with my clairvoyant. She is a great focus to me and someone I trust with all my heart.
If I had my life back I would prefer not to know what I have, but after nearly 36 years I’ve found my strength to express myself, to stand upright, and I’ve learned to use my voice to to support others. I don’t want anyone to suffer like me in silence.
In 2018, I took part in a BBC Three documentary and was asked what my biggest regret was. I don’t like to regret it, but it was easy to have to answer: I am sorry I didn’t speak earlier.
I started my therapy in 1994 at the age of 22 and started my business too – they ran in parallel. I had a lot of fears, was up to many challenges and published my first self-help book, Don’t Hold Back, in 2018.
I am an entrepreneur who runs a number of lifestyle companies and I now speak publicly. I’ve worked with the BBC, That’s TV and my new YouTube channel “The Emma-Jane Taylor Show”. Presenting the Mid-Morning Matters Show for Marlow FM Radio and enjoying my freedom.
I’ve felt liberated ever since I found the confidence to express myself. I have opened up many opportunities and learned to support others who suffer in silence.
Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (accredited) says:
Emma’s powerful story shows courage and bravery. After such traumatic experiences, your determined attitude to seek help and overcome your personal difficulties is inspiring. Emma is a shining example of how talking about what’s going on internally can have a truly life-changing impact.