Story by Emma Jane Taylor
In 1981, I was sexually abused by the restaurant owner who had befriended my family on a holiday overseas, I was 9 years old and had no idea what had happened to me that night. I remember feeling scared, but I wasn’t sure what of. Unbeknown to me it was going to be a trigger later in life but not something that affected me immediately. I never shared this story again until I started my therapy in my early twenties.
I lived with my Mum and Step Father, my two brothers and from time to time my step siblings would visit. Every other weekend I would spend the weekend with my biological Father. My parents separated when I was very young, about 3 years old, and I was happy with my life, I knew no different. I remember being happy at school, I had a nice group of friends. I was innocent, we all were as kids, and my days were long and happy.
Some of my earliest and happiest memories were of the weekends with my Father. I idolised him; he was my prince, my hero, someone I couldn’t wait to see him every other weekend. He was handsome, he had a twinkle in his eye and would make me laugh. I loved him deeply. He used to pick me up and take me to our local sweet shop to buy our ¼ lb of wine gums and then we would go home and laugh, enjoy Saturday night TV and exchange lots of cuddles. It was a lovely time.
But that was about to change.
In 1984 and shortly after starting Senior School my Father picked me up for the weekend as normal, I was about 12 years old. After a short drive he stopped the car. He told me there was a ‘’problem in our relationship’’. I had an instant sick feeling. I wasn’t really sure what a ‘’problem in our relationship’’ meant until the next night when he called me at my home and told me he couldn’t have a relationship with me again until I was older. I replaced the receiver and remember running out of the house with my Mum and Step-Father in hot pursuit behind me, they wrestled me and my hot tears to the ground. And that was that. In the blink of an eye my hero, had gone. I was devastated at losing my Father from my life, and it turned out to be just that.
My Father abandoning me out of the blue has affected my relationships ever since. That day haunted me, within 24 hours I had gone from giggling with excitement at being with and seeing my Father and the next minute I was utterly broken, sobbing, shaking, nauseous and nervous.
I will never understand why this happened. I knew there were rumblings in the family but even now I can’t understand how any rumblings could lead you to give up on your children. Fight harder if you have to, but never give up on your children.
I struggled to make decisions for a very long time after my Father left for fear of the consequences, life became a sea of darkness, I was a nervous wreck and suffered with huge abandonment issues. Fear of being rejected stayed with me for most of my growing up and young adult years. I avoided personal conflict.
I so wished my Father would come back to my life…every day I hoped he might have got it wrong. Every birthday and every Christmas I would check the post, but nothing. Every birthday and every Christmas I wished he would come and scoop me up in his arms and give me a hug, tell me he loved me and that everything would be ok and we would laugh, hug and go grab some sweets for the weekend. But he never came back.
I watched endless romantic TV programmes in the UK such as Surprise Surprise and prayed every week that I would be the long lost child re-united with her Daddy. I felt so alone, scared and isolated. I thought I had done something wrong and that was why he had left me. I started to become more and more insecure. I didn’t talk to anyone about any of this, I internalised everything because it was easier for me to do this. I felt so much pain, so much hurt and so much fear. It was drowning me. I cried in my pillow every night, my pain was intense and I had a permanent not in my tummy.
Being sexually abused at 9 years old & my Father abandoning me took it’s toll. I went off the rails at school, at home and with myself. I was deeply insecure, vulnerable with low self esteem, desperate to be loved and needed. I began to have flashbacks of the incidence that took place when I was 9 years old and it made me feel dirty. I began remembering details of what had happened to me, and it was scaring me. But I still didn’t talk about it. I think I was now feeling embarrassed of ashamed, maybe.
I was becoming more and more confused by the rejection, abandonment and sexual abuse, I lost some of my memory and just cried all the time. The once happy child was fading away and in her place became a withdrawn, nervous and sad girl. I was hollow, I lived on a knife’s edge. All that had happened triggered my need for cleanliness. I began having a bath before bed, I felt that by bathing before bed I could wash away the pain and more importantly the feeling of being dirty. I could go to sleep feeling clean and fresh, it is a ritual that I still do now, aged 47 years, but now I enjoy the relaxation of my bath differently and with gratitude.
High School became a troubling time. I failed miserably at school, I had no enthusiasm. Ironically we had chosen the school I went to in Maidenhead, because it was close to where my Father lived. I was a naughty child from the start and it wasn’t long before I was labelled a juvenile delinquent and sent to a child psychologist. I used to have a meeting once a week with one of my teachers, but when I look back it was a huge waste of time, I just cried and skirted around the truth; too afraid to say anything to anyone.
Speaking openly about my story and my life was difficult. You live and breathe your own story, it becomes your normality and you don’t feel like you can speak out. This wasn’t because there weren’t good people in my life. I started feeling low, and unsure where to turn to, so I just spiralled out of control. I got used to being treated badly by men and I guess the next incident happened very easily.
And then in 1985, aged 13 I fell into a sexually abusive relationship with a much older man, who up until this point, had been known to my family and who had been someone I completely trusted. He took advantage of me, he carefully groomed me, he became my friend, I guess he became my missing Father Figure. I suppose at this time I liked that someone showered me with affection and gifts. But there was a price to pay; He degraded, tortured, raped and manipulated me. He took my vaginity and laughed at me when he realised he had done so. He controlled my every move, he would follow my bus to school, and watch me get off and go in through the gates, he would be there when I got on the bus to come home and follow the bus back again. He was obsessed. He would manipulate me to sneak out from my parents house in the middle of the night. He would then drown me with alcohol and drugs and then have his wicked way with me. I can still remember the smell on his breath, the smell in his car, the music he played. He would tell me not to speak about ‘our relationship’ with anyone, because apparently “no-one would understand”. He would say awful things about the people I loved and make me feel animosity toward them.
I would allow him to do anything to me, I was very nervous of him but it seemed an easier option. I don’t know why I went with it, I just did. I couldn’t get out, I know that. My life was a blur, I felt suicidal at times. I didn’t think anyone loved me. I felt such pain I wanted it all to end. I wanted it all to go away and I could not see a way out. I didn’t understand this wasn’t acceptable behaviour. After all since 9 years old I had been treated badly by men. It was exhausting.
I was a Grade A mess and worn out.
My schooling suffered, I became addicted to pain killers to numb the hangovers, I drank heavily, smoked, took drugs, laxatives and became bulimic. I was so lost, broken with suicidal thoughts. I listened to Cliff Richards ‘Daddy’s home’ track in the constant hope that my Daddy would come back. I found solace in love songs, dreaming about being taken away from the pain and reunited with my Daddy.
I know my family saw that I had gone off the rails. But no-one knew why, everyone assumed it was because of my hormonal years and because my Father had left me, but of course it ran deeper than this. My mother and step-father were wonderful parents, and I don’t blame them. This was not their fault, they could not have known what was going on in my life, because I didn’t talk. I was a naughty girl at school, and they despaired with me at times, trying to get me to open up and talk, but I couldn’t. I was scared. Afraid of hurting anymore and scared to lose anymore people from my life, especially my Mother and Step Father. With maturity I understand this wouldn’t have been the case, but back then, running scared, that was my fear.
I trusted the older man, I trusted no-one else ironically, but I trusted him. It was a terrifying time of life. Hindsight is a great thing, I can now see how easily this all happened. I was a sitting duck. Lost child abandoned by her biological Father, previous abuse, vulnerable and with no self-worth – bingo. I could be shaped any which way you needed me to be so long as the attention was given to my emotional state.
But as I got older and started realising what was going on, I found a little bit of strength.
In 1987, aged 15/16, I started to realise right from wrong and I mustered up my strength to step away from him, but it wasn’t easy. He was everywhere I went. He showered me with gifts (diamonds, money, clothes, perfume) to keep me quiet about ‘our secret’. He would also threaten me and at times lock me in his car and travel (drunk) at high speeds along dangerous roads, and at times I was never sure I would survive his raging temper but TBH other days I didn’t care if I lived or died. I spiralled into an abyss of darkness, afraid to talk, scared to let go of the deep dark secrets inside of me.
I remember all of the music he played in his car, or music he played at his home and the way he shouted at me, bullied me and scared me. I felt scared. I didn’t know why but I was terrified. I have had a lot of therapy to remove the images from that sequence of events and now I can speak openly about it without feeling scared and unsure. I was about 13 years old. For many years I questioned why I let all of this happen to me, why didn’t I ever talk about it. But I have learnt that abusers are good at making you feel like everything is ok and even though I was scared of him, and what was happening, I was more scared that no-one would believe me; the crazy chick who drank, smoked, took drugs, was bulimic, addicted to pain killers, filled up with laxatives, who partied hard and failed at school.
Through my recovery years (therapy) I have learnt to forgive, I have understood that my perpetrators need help and I understand I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I believe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people but I also believe I have been taught valuable lessons that can now help many others. My journey is just beginning and through my writing I am finding so much calm. I am open to therapy at any time, and I encourage others to speak up. It is ok not to be ok. We can’t fight pain with pain.
I did an A-Z of Therapy over the years. I had regular counselling which was good as it was someone to talk to but I really felt for me that my hypnotherapy and psychotherapy sessions helped me the most in the earlier days of my recovery. It took me about 8/10 years after starting my counselling / reiki to feel ready to start hypnotherapy/psychotherapy. It was tough. Some days my therapist would take me deep back into difficult situations (with my consent) to help me release some locked memories, and other days we did gentle sessions to aid my recovery. I remember one particular session during hypnotherapy that my therapist and I talked about going deeper into my locked down memories and unlocking them. We talked about it, I agreed and I can also categorically tell you that day was the toughest day of my life; but equally the best day. I let so much go, so much pain was released, and after a few quiet days resting I started to regain my strength.
I have also taken the following treatments during my recovery to support my mental state: Acupuncture, Meditation, Yoga, Clairvoyance, Picture Tapping, EFT, Reflexology, Cranial Sacral Therapy. If I feel wobbled at anytime now I usually check in with my Clairvoyant. She is a great focus for me, and someone I wholeheartedly trust and enjoy spending time with.
If I had my life again I would prefer to not experience what I have, but after nearly 36 years I have found my strength to speak up, to stand tall and I have learnt to use my voice to support others, to give back my opportunities and open doors for others to a better life through my life lessons. I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence as I did.
In 2018, I took part in a BBC 3 Eye to Eye documentary. I was asked what my biggest regret was. I don’t like to have regrets but having to give an answer it was simple; I regret not speaking up sooner.
I started my therapy in 1994, aged 22 and I also launched my business, the therapy and business ran in parallel lives but I still didn’t talk about my life story. I didn’t want to be known for my life story. I wanted to recover and learn.
I have faced many fears, risen to many challenges and in 2018 I published my first self help book ‘Don’t Hold Back’ available on Amazon; My business gave me my strength. It was my baby, I could nurture my business, look after my mental and emotional state and be productive. Having gone through many years thinking no-one liked me I started understanding that this wasn’t true. I was respected more, people enjoyed my company, I nurtured my old friends, grew new friends and my strength made it’s way back little by little. I found a new confidence, a new strength and a new trust in myself that I never had before. I started to enjoy who I was, and I learnt to understand more about people and what matters. I opened up to close friends, shared stories with my parents and began to feel empowered.
As I healed, I found new opportunities not just professionally but personally. I understood the power of forgiveness, I learnt that HOPE (Hold On Pain Ends) gives you opportunities and I learnt that I could not fight pain with pain anymore. I had to let go, I had to forgive and I had to use my lessons to strength who I was. My lessons become my voice and now I want to give you the chance to know it is ok, you can get through this and you will be ok.
I am the CEO of The Works Company, a series of lifestyle businesses. I am also an Author and a keynote speaker and offer presentations that give thought provoking and motivational challenges. I have worked with the BBC, That’s TV, and more recently on my new YouTube Channel ‘The Emma-Jane Show’ on bringing about change and diversity to my viewers. I present The Wellbeing Show on Good Morning Marlow for Marlow FM Radio and am thoroughly enjoying my life, success (not monetary) and future opportunities.
I feel liberated since I found the confidence to speak up. I have opened many doors of opportunities & learnt to support many others who are suffering in silence.
I always said if my story could help one person then it would have all been worth it.”
You can follow her journey on: Facebook, Instagram and Website