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How I Found Myself After Running Away From My Trauma

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I ran. It conjures up someone sleeping rough, someone fleeing from a dangerous situation,  grabbing only a few items.

• What is PTSD?

This isn’t what happened.

It was planned with my partner that we were moving to London. I jumped at the opportunity to go with him, not only because I loved him (I still do), but to get lost. Anonymity felt like such a privilege — no one knew me and they didn’t want to. I could do whatever I wanted. I wouldn’t be scolded by family or friends close by. I wouldn’t have to be accountable.

The sun rising as I rode on the morning train across Blackfriars bridge hit me every single morning. The natural beauty was astounding of a city filled with millions of people desperate not to know you or your past. There was nowhere I’d rather be in the world. A storm was approaching because of the exact reason I’d run. The Anonymity.

It gave way to a massive mental breakdown because for the first time, I had the space to fall apart. Space to figure out who I was and deal with the abuse I had previously endured. My head told me I’d already dealt with it all. Desperately, I wanted to believe this, even though in truth, the surface had hardly been scratched, the exploration of the past became too overwhelming. I knew I  had to find a way to cope, but sometimes there are certain things you just can’t do. Becoming lost, all boundaries and rules went out the window. I did some ridiculously silly things, which I deeply regret. Fast, I was becoming a regular at my local hospital.

While repairing, I decided it was my duty to stand up for those who did not have a voice. Sexual abuse is still taboo and I still believe part of this is due to little understanding. I took part in a national inquiry that ruptured my world. I was very vocal about this both to the inquiry and the police involved — they ripped my heart and everything else I had rebuilt out. Although now, I do question whether I would have been as happy as I am now for not going through the inquiry and the following investigations. I was broken — being whole was my illusion as  I couldn’t face up to the reality of what I had been through.


I found my therapist who helped lead me and my fiance through a very difficult period of our lives. With the love and support of the people around me, I was able to start building a positive life with actual goals: family, career, hobbies, etc. As I grew, I realized something: The foundational reason I had run was no longer part of me. The anonymity was no longer attractive.

I was so sure what I wanted was to be alone with just my partner and control when I saw people. When I started to mend, I realized I actually love people (a lot) and was scared of getting rejected (both by friends and family). So, I would be needlessly aggressive, rude, mean, and loud. I wish I could take back all the actions and words that hurt the people I love, but I can’t. I believe I will spend my life trying to repair, repay, and rebuild from that time of my life. Always will I regret who and how I was at that time of my life.

I was so violently defensive about so many aspects of my life. I was hurt and not ready to deal properly with that. I had decided I was already fixed and other people just didn’t understand. It caused a lot of problems in my life and in honesty, it was easy to paint everyone else as against me because they pulled me up.

As I recovered, I yearned for the people who loved me around me. Clarity about what I actually wanted despite the internalized battle led both of us to a decision. It was time to come home. Difficult decisions and situations would still be. I would be returning a different person, one who was finally ready to face reality as it truly was. Not the lie I had created for myself.

The ghosts still appear, but they no longer plague me like they once did. My crime scenes, people, and memories still can overwhelm me. Now, they are accepted as truth I once chose to ignore. I needed to run away to come back as a whole person and I believe I did. As I see the sunrise across our home city, beauty and hope come with it. Do I miss the view of the sunrise across Blackfriars bridge? Of course. However, each sunrise is my own, beautiful and truthful and I never need to doubt that ever again.

Getty image by spooh

Originally published: February 21, 2022
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