The train terminated after a long delay. No trains going north or south at the moment. Danger overhead apparently. Impromptu hours stuck at a place I would never choose to return to on my own.

I used to live in a little town near here when I was in my first year as a qualified teacher. One night, one month in to my happy new life era, I experienced a big trauma; rape. By a colleague, a fellow teacher, an apparent ‘friend.’ The next day he boasted that he had ‘succeeded’ with the new girl in town, instigating gossip which got back to me within hours. I couldn’t use the word ‘rape’ so I buried it as a ‘bad night.’ I spent months trying to hold my head up high, pushing it all down: faking it until I made it.

I then experienced telecom abuse from the same man and his friend (another colleague, a teacher in the school I worked in), then harassment and sex discrimination from the ‘old boys network’ of the system protecting the men.

They used a counsellor against me by making her break confidentiality and reveal she had diagnosed me with ‘PTSD’ - as a way of trying to buy me out the school. I resisted and told them that my teaching had not been affected and I would not let them make me leave my children. They let them continue to be involved with the children after I came forward. 

They told me not to go to the police as it would affect my career and the children!

When I inadvertently saw the men celebrating their ‘win’ over me, I sneaked out in the night with a friend (I was being monitored to ensure I didn’t go to the police) and the next day I gave my police video evidence in a nearby town. 

I have now found a quiet garden and I’m having a good cry and a moment of gratitude for how far I have come, far away from that time, even if I’m the closest I’ve been to where it happened in over 10 years. It doesn’t control me or my view of intimacy anymore. It doesn’t define me and I can talk about it unashamedly. I no longer hear his words. I’ve been supported to transcend it and elevate it – by empowering those who have experienced it in order to heal and reduce the adverse impact of whatever the experience brought for them. By helping those who have not experienced it to understand how to support those who have.

These are some of the many people I have abundant gratitude for helping me through this experience with a big smile on my face…

  L, my dear friend for sleeping next to me to help me through the nightmares and flashbacks once they came up after repressing them. 

  To my family for loving me and helping me through it and my mum and friends for coming with me to the police the first time. 

  My dad, for coming with me to mediation with the school to request that they put policies (that I helped draft) in place to support children and adults who experience anything similar in the school and to ensure my exit from the school did not affect my career (albeit hard to see the school and lawyers shake hands with glee afterwards and then look sheepish when they saw me). I’m grateful I made sure my voice was heard by the school governors and that I came away with dignity and grace and did something to teach them about my experience to try to stop it being replicated by other victims of sexual assault in the school, which I know there were (and these women’s stories, with their consent I shared with the school)

  J, my friend for taking time out of his international DJ schedule and supporting me through the police interview and bringing me back up North. And thank you to you and R for giving me homes back in Yorkshire to momentarily land at that chaotic time. 

  To the children I taught, tutored and cared for in that school, for raising me up, keeping me going and helping me heal my way through it one English and Drama lesson at a time. I loved diving into teaching gothic fiction, poetry and Shakespeare with you. A highlight is taking my 15 year olds to perform Romeo and Juliet from my Juliet balcony and all reading the play in the grass, some making daisies in the sunshine! I loved being creative and teaching my favourite novel Wuthering Heights to you and having parents impressed that their teenagers were enthralled reading it on their own over the break. I loved my pastoral duties, being there for the younger children as they went to sleep, hearing about their experiences and whatever they had on their mind arising and helping them soothe to rest. I still care about you and think about the magical times. 

  And to all the children and young people who have all lightened my way, those who I worked with as a teacher and now as a Child Psychologist. 

  The police who were truly amazing to me. Especially the police woman who supported me. Wish I could find her to give her a hug and show her I made it out dancing and free!

  The CPS for believing me fully even though I had not come forward early enough to have physical evidence. 

  The Sanctuary Thailand for being there for me to fast and cleanse the weekend after it happened. 

  My male friends who understood when I had panic attacks around them and didn’t take it personally but knew it was related to trauma.

  On the infrequent times I found myself alone with a male (such as when in a taxi) after my repression lifted and it all came flooding back to me -  to those men for being patient with me as I breathed and tried to explain when I panicked, unnecessarily. 

  The experience giving me the impetus to further explore my Judaism and move to Jerusalem. 

  Cambridge University for responding to my chutzpah of not applying, but emailing them to share my trauma and why my strength would make me an asset to the course... and for accepting me onto my masters two weeks before the start!

  I, my Cambridge university tutor for helping me complete my masters. 

  My friends in the town C, M and M for showing me care and helping me through that time. 

  My friends, too many to name, for being there for me from: when I arrived on your doorstep the next day L, with grazes and bruises, resisting acknowledging what had happened to me; to helping me see it was not just a ‘bad night’ but rape; to hearing me slowly open up... and way beyond. 

  To all of my family and friends who despite their wishes/near actions (some creative ideas were posed to me and politely declined - such as cementing him in his house!), listened to me, didn’t take my control away and let me have my own ‘revenge:’ to live and love fully again, free of trauma, knowing the universe will work it out. 

  My friend S for his legal advice, soup and chocolate fondue making and for understanding why I did not feel able to be alone with him or any other male at the time. 

  The friend of my uncle’s, who was also a therapist, who one Shabbat invited me over and spent the evening breaking through my self-reproach and who convinced me that I didn’t do anything to encourage what happened to me and that I had to go to the police.  

  The woman at the sexual violence support service who tried to help me - albeit too early in the process. 

  My brother, dad and stepdads for being men I always felt safe with and never had a panic attack around. 

  To all the men (no – to all the people) who make other people feel safe and believe in consent and would never pursue sex when a person says no. 

  All the people who have helped me not only survive being raped, but helped me prosper and help others who have experienced it. 

  For me, my resilience and my belief in transcendence of trauma and adversity and in elevating it to help others.

  For the survival of all of the people who have experienced sexual assault/abuse.

To anyone suffering, keep hope and know you can fully heal - heal, and also help others.