You Cannot Let Them Win
I struggled to actually write this down for a while even though I can now speak about this, site well with people who know me, sometimes without a tear leaving my eye. This is not a sad story, this is to show you how I returned from the darkest of days because “They cannot win”….
I grew up, on the outside, as a generally happy child, always smiling and dancing and trusting everyone. However, I wasn’t great at school academically and got into trouble a lot, I craved attention and was very emotional, Why? Because I was hiding a dark secret.
My father drank too much, sometimes way too much and used to be very abusive both verbally and physically to us in the house. I grew up thinking men told you they loved you but hurt you which meant the same thing. I didn’t know it was wrong. I just thought whenever he picked up the bottle he changed into someone who used to scare me- “Bad Daddy”. Daddy who pushed me down the stairs, Bad Daddy who punched me in the face in a restaurant, Bad Daddy who almost killed me in the car from drink driving and got arrested meaning I slept in the police station until my Mum arrived to get me at 4am in the morning. This was all before I was 15.
Funny enough this wasn’t the worse of things that I considered to have happened to me. I still felt I had my innocence attached to me even though I had gone through all of the above. It wasn’t until I was violated, twice, sexually, once by a family friend at 11 and again at 12 but that time by a stranger. The incident at 12 isn’t in this piece I don’t want to go into in much detail like I said it’s not a focus on the bad but the good.
I remember climbing into bed with my friend petrified he was going to do it again
The first time I was at a family friends house on NYE and everyone had fallen asleep. My friend was in bed and I had gone upstairs to join her; “Tops & tails” as I was 11. Her older brother met me in the hallway, he must have been about 26 at the time. He kept looking at me, in a strange way, asking if I wanted to sleep in his room, I declined politely. He then managed to put his arms around me, he braced me and whispered ” why am I scared?” I replied strongly “No” but before I could push him away he then slipped his hands into the front of my knickers and told me to relax. I froze, why was he doing this to me, why could I smell the alcohol on his breath? What was happening?
When he finally let go off me, I was scared, trembling and my heart was pounding like I had been hit by a car. I remember climbing into bed with my friend petrified he was going to do it again. The next morning we joined the family in the parents bedroom to laugh about the party the night before. He wouldn’t look me in the face, I was still in shock and couldn’t eat, then collapsed in front them all. I woke up with everyone screaming and shouting around me.. I blamed the hunger and was rushed to A&E. Until now I have never said a word.
I decided I couldn’t keep doing this to myself
The incident at 12 is a very hard pill to swallow for myself to even write about but just know I didn’t come back from that at all. I became depressed, angry, lost weight, started partying with boys, wearing tight clothes to get attention. It didn’t help, and I got worse. I would drink, smoke, sneak out of boarding school to party, started having consensual sex at 14, cutting myself and feeling suicidal. I eventually got expelled from boarding school and landed back in London at 16.
After a 2 years of continued self destruction back in London due to above events and my beloved Grandmother passing away, I turned to boys, casual sex and finding love outside of my home; that’s when I decided I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. Even though the buzz of frequent sexual partners gave me a buzz and I felt in control of my body, I hated myself afterwards. After being told that I was “dirty, damaged goods” and I “deserved the rape”, words that came from my own Father after he found out, I knew I had hit rock bottom. Word also started to spread around my peer group that I was sleeping around and I was starting to let myself go. The buzz wore off. I knew I had to stand up and not be a victim of my pain and what happened to me.
My business gave me a buzz no one could ever take from me
I enrolled in fashion school, got my merits and opened a fashion business that blew up over night. I went from ex boarding school drop out to the handbag person or “Birkin Buyer” flying all over the world dealing and befriending royalty and celebrities. My business gave me a buzz no one could ever take from me. I turned the hurt and pain in my heart and made it into something worth living for. I turned tears into strength and have built a brand no one can take from me.
But it wasn’t until I watched Oprah on Jonathon Ross a few years ago and he asked her how she over came her abuse and she turned to the audience and said something along the lines of ” I didn’t let them win, don’t let them win. What they did to you and me was horrible but by falling down means they have won. You have survived, you have won”
That’s why I wrote this article not to tell a story of abuse or my business “success” but to say to women out there, regardless of what has happened, if that person raped you, you have survived. If that person touched you, you are not dirty, you survived. You are stronger, every day you get stronger because you are here and still standing. YOU HAVE WON! YOU ARE GREAT! YOU ARE LOVED!
Because if I can come back from the ashes so can you.
Written by O.M