I’m Emily, a Rockstar, and I’m on a mission to support survivors in living more than a half-life, coping one day at a time, and to live instead a full and whole ReConnected Life. I have used my experience and the skills I developed in my recovery to create a pathway to living reconnected that goes beyond merely managing our symptoms from the trauma. I am on a mission to challenge and change the untrue myths that say we will be forever broken and to address trauma recovery from a whole-person holistic perspective. I’m also on a mission to end rape culture, and to speak up for survivors every opportunity I get, so you can often find me writing or speaking in the public sphere to break the silence and change the world. I’m a coach, an NLP master practitioner, an author, a blogger, a speaker, a community leader, a survivor: I’m a Rockstar.
Back in 2008 I was 34, newly divorced after ten years of marriage, and back on the dating scene. I had been out on only a handful of dates before I went out on this date. We’d spoken on the phone, I’d thought I’d checked him out. He seemed personable and I remember being quite excited about meeting him. We went to a restaurant, we had a cocktail each to calm the nerves, and then because it was a Polish restaurant, we ordered vodka with our meal.
I remember telling him between the starter and the main course, over a cigarette outside, that I was having a good time, but I didn’t see this going further.
I didn’t know that for a certain type of man, that could be a red rag to a bull.
I don’t remember anything after that cigarette break. I don’t remember getting home. The police later told me that according to the restaurant bill, if I had even only drunk half of the vodka that was billed, I would have been several times over the legal driving limit.
At some point, I came to and he was in me. I didn’t say no, and I didn’t say get off. I said, you’re not wearing a condom. It’s strange how the brain works.
I slipped in and out of consciousness. At one point I must’ve been fighting him, because later with my psychiatrist I remembered the moment I thought I would die, facedown into the mattress, his hand on my neck. That’s when I froze. I remember that paralysis. Eventually I submitted.
It was violent. He used kitchen implements. Nine years later, I can still see where my skin broke on my thighs from the bruising and the welts that were left.
The next day, he sent me a text. He called me a young lady, said he’d had a lovely time, could we do it again.
Apparently, that was meant to confuse me, and to confuse the authorities if I reported. Which I did, about a month later. It went nowhere, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) decided not to prosecute. Two years afterwards I found out their reasons: I’d waited a month (most rapes aren’t reported immediately), I’d been drinking (which should have been proof by itself of non-consent as legally I cannot consent if drunk), and he offered into evidence photographs which apparently showed me consenting (how does a photograph do that? I didn’t have even a clear recollection of photographs being taken, although I had said in my statement I thought it might have happened).
The inability to get justice afterwards kicked me in the teeth. Two years later when I found out why, I was kicked down again.
My Healing Journey
I did the things you’re supposed to do. I went to victim support. I went to the Havens. I went to the Women & Girls network. I got some one to one counselling, I graduated to the group therapy programme.
I thought I was better, because I’d taken my medicine. I wasn’t better. I was still numbing every emotion, through every conceivable way. Food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, prescription and otherwise. Cutting. I became a workaholic, working 12-14 hour days 7 days a week.
I had a meltdown, a breakdown, with hindsight it was maybe a breakthrough. The medicine was prescribed again: one to one counselling, group therapy. I then also had psychiatric help for about 18 months, which incorporated many modalities including EMDR. I thought it had saved my life.
Except it hadn’t. Because after, when I was discharged, and told I wasn’t mental anymore, I still didn’t have a clue how to be in this world, this world that had betrayed me so badly.
I felt ungrateful. I’d overcome (most of) the negative coping behaviours. I’d started sleeping through the night. I didn’t have panic attacks anymore. I was even weaning myself off the anti-depressants. I’d had some amazing help that had ‘cured’ me to the point I could say I was ‘in remission’, or even ‘recovered.’. And, yet, I didn’t know how to do life, I didn’t know how to be. I still didn’t feel ‘right’, I didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’ in the world, I still felt ‘broken’ and ‘fragile’. I didn’t trust my cure, I didn’t feel connected to anyone or anything, not even myself.
I thought this was just the way life was going to be. One day at a time. Surviving. Better than before, because no panic attacks, but still, not whole, not really living. Surviving.
I thought I was learning how to be a coach for my own business. What I found was, that in learning how to help other people, I was actually also learning how to help myself. I was learning how to start to feel connected to the world, to dreams, to future plans, to me, again.
My mind was ready; my body was not. It seemed to want to stay in the hyper/hypo yoyo, it wanted to sleep and collapse after any minor excitement. It was becoming my Achilles heel, and I resented it more than ever, holding me back, preventing me from doing everything my head now said I could.
Then, one evening, completely unexpectedly, something clicked. I was at a women’s retreat, the kind where you do lots of intensive & challenging internal personal work, not the kind where you have face masks and massages. It was an exercise in connecting with our inner vitality, our inner soul animal. I watched everyone connecting with tigers, lions, dancing, moving. And yet I was trapped, I couldn’t move; I was locked, frozen, in position. The tears started rolling down my face. I realised: I hadn’t forgiven my body for what had happened to me. My mind and my body were completely disconnected.
Up until that point I’d been dealing with symptoms and trying to control conscious thought. And although this had undoubtedly saved my life, what I really needed to do, was make peace with my body and start living as a whole human being again.
I’d found the missing piece to my recovery.
I have been working hard ever since, slowly reconnecting my mind with my body, my body with my mind. And it is this triumvirate of being able to self-rescue from our symptoms, re-discover who we are at core, and re-connect to our body so we can re-connect to the world that forms the central building blocks of the ReConnected Life Experience that I teach.
I feel honoured and privileged to have discovered this pathway. The traditional narrative for trauma recovery after rape is to focus on controlling, alleviating, or removing our psychological symptoms. Very few approaches tell us that we also need to do inner work on our thoughts, and integrate our body back into being. Too often survivors need to fashion their own recovery path, and it can feel like an uphill struggle. I have curated the knowledge, techniques and skills so that we can be empowered to find our way to our ReConnected Life.
“’m here to tell you that you will find the way to put yourself together again, to pick up the pieces, and make them fit, to be whole, to be reconnected. I’m here to tell you that you become risen and that you now inspire others to rise as well. I’m here to tell you that it gets better.”
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