Photo Credit | Meghan Holmes (Unsplash)

By A Sexual Abuse Survivor (anonymous)

*Trigger Warning*

2010 - this was the year my life turned upside down and I didn’t even know it, nor would I for the next eight years. As a 13-year-old, I was into sports and wanted to try everything I possibly could; all my school friends did were doing sports and they told me to come to a taster session, so I thought why not. Instantly, I fell in love. I felt comfortable in a sport for the first time in my life and I couldn’t wait to go back the next week. My coach instantly took a shine to me, she would tell me how talented I was and that I would go far with hard work. Of course, I used that as motivation and was also offered additional training sessions and coaching positions - I took up anything possible to improve myself further. My coach gave me her number in case I needed anything and soon started texting me, I felt so special and important, I had never felt this before. Very quickly my coach was offering me free sessions and lifts to and from training; we would sit outside my house and chat for hours. It was attention I had never been given, I felt great. Little did I know this was the start to a life full of grooming and sexual abuse.

The special attention was enough to get me hooked in, but it didn’t stop there, then came small gifts personal to me that no other athlete received. I felt on top of the world, how could anyone be this nice to me? My coach would ask me to help her all the time, come early to sessions, we got to know each other so well, she would take me for food before dropping me home, telling me that she’s only a message away if I need anything, literally anything. She would text me every single day, from the second I woke up to the second I went to bed, even through the night and when I woke up… surprise, she was there! Very quickly, she wanted to take control and started manipulating me and my family. She began stating her importance, which obviously I saw no wrong as she gave me more than I’d ever had. I come from a family with six children - our parents gave us their absolute all, but she could give me more money than they could. The gifts soon got bigger, these turned into weekends away and holidays to watch competitions where she would reassure my parents that I was ‘safe’, but clearly I wasn't.

Whilst she groomed me into believing that she was the most important thing in my life, she made me detach from my family, she hated my mum and was willing to do anything to destroy our relationship.

The texting took over my life, no matter what time, no matter where I was, who I was with, I would be texting her, even during school and risking my phone being confiscated, which happened many times. My life was now revolved around her. She would constantly reinforce her importance in my life and her priority over my own friends and family. She started telling me how she cared for me like her own ‘daughter’. She saw me as hers, little did I know this meant her ‘property’. She wanted me to call her ‘mummy’. She treated me as her daughter therefore I needed to call her ‘mummy’ and she would call me ‘baby’. This was very much controlling from the start, but I did as she said and didn’t question it, why would I? She was my coach who I had always been told to trust and listen to. Whilst she groomed me into believing that she was the most important thing in my life, she made me detach from my family, she hated my mum and was willing to do anything to destroy our relationship.This is where the abuse really started. My abuser slowly but surely made me fall out with every friend I had as they were a barrier to her abuse and she needed them gone. Then came my family. I have no memories or happiness with my family from 2010 onwards because I was made to hate them - I didn't even call my own mum ‘mum’ for years.

This coach and athlete ‘relationship’ turned sexual by the age of 14; she had normalised behaviours that should never had been carried out, but disguised them as ‘caring’ and ‘looking out’ for me. From what started as me innocently thinking that her rubbing my stomach was to make me feel better, had turned to her hands inside my most intimate places that should have been saved for someone so special and not just to be violated. By the age of 14 I had undergone sexual activity without even realising it, this was my first ever intimate experience and this carried on until I managed to walk away aged 21. The emotional and mental abuse happened daily and the sexual abuse followed very closely - if it wasn’t daily, it was every other day.

Despite growing older, I didn't become any more aware of the abuse taking place, in fact I was groomed further into believing how normal it was and didn't see anything wrong about this, but I guess that's how abuse works. I was alone, I had no friends, no family and wasn't allowed relationships - I was stuck with just myself and my abuser, I didn't have a life outside of her. I only started to realise something was odd from the age of 19, when my best friend came into my life and showed me how a real friend should treat you, however, despite this I still couldn't get away from my abuser - no matter how hard I tried, I was dragged back in.

My mental health plummeted massively from the start, I didn't know who I was, nor who I wanted to be. I turned to some addictive and very destructive behaviours to try and cope with the pain I was feeling, but was still unsure why I was feeling this way. I was self destructing, self-harming, developed eating disorders, turned to tablet abuse and on multiple occasions attempted to take my life. I was so oblivious to why I had turned to these behaviours, later to realise the cause was the manipulation, grooming and sexual abuse.

From beginning to end she manipulated me, she made me do what she wanted whenever she demanded and took full advantage of grooming me. This is when I finally realised I couldn't take it anymore and enough was enough...

In 2018, I competed atan international championship whereshe made my time HELL, there was no other word to describe it. From beginning to end she manipulated me, she made me do what she wanted whenever she demanded and took full advantage of grooming me. This is when I finally realised I couldn't take it anymore and enough was enough. I realised it was wrong and the actions she displayed were not normal, nor do they belong in a friendship. I finally left my childhood sexual abuser, and I felt free. Although it didn’t stop there, she still continued to message me and try to get me back, asking me to meet up to ‘clear the air’, I didn't fall for this. Just over 2 years on and I am standing strong as the CPS are now dealing with my case.

My advice to anyone who is in this position is to speak out, know your gut instinct is right no matter how small it may feel. Walk away and be strong enough to not go back, I made this mistake so many times. I gained back the family relationships and the friendships she took away and they have been the strength behind me during all of this. I took my case to the police knowing I needed to stand for what is right, I couldn'tbearthe thought of another young 13-year-old being taken advantage of and abused. Although reporting isn't as straightforward and easy as I thought it would be, it's a challenge but one I push through each and every day. There will be times where you feel like giving up, I’ve felt this so many times, but I’ve dug deep and know the reasons why I’m fighting for justice. Believe in yourself, you are worth more than you will ever know.

I have used social media to find others who share similar experiences to me, which has helped me connect with thousands who understand the impact sexual abuse has. It has also helped me to understand I am not alone and there are so many other individuals out there who can help me too. Although female on female abuse is a lot less common, it does happen; it is important to also talk about it. I hope sharing my experience also encourages others to also reach out for help or tell someone.

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