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My name is Leah (not my real name). I am 46 years old and a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse. I was abused at the age of 8 until I was 10.

My family never knew too much about the abuse due to the fact that I was ashamed of it and being so young didn’t know that it was abuse. I just knew that something wasn’t right. I put it behind me and went through my teenage years and 20s I was using drugs and alcohol and being promiscuous a way now I know that I used to deal with the abuse. Never fully understanding why I did this. Just thought it was a way of life.

When I had my first child at the age of there was a trigger that bought it all back to me. I had a little counselling and realised that the depression and my behaviour was due to the fact I had been sexually abused. But being a new mother I put it behind me again as I found it too hard to deal with. I went on to have another child at the age of 35 but my marriage broke down and I became a single mum.

After that I started drinking and taking drugs and became involved in numerous abusive relationships. That led me to become involved with a church group with this came the next trigger. A paedophile was attended the church social barbeque that I attended with my children. When I discovered who he was I went on a downward spiral. I decided to enter into counselling again and attended for my allocated sessions which helped a bit. I was unable to keep going as I was unable to afford to pay myself so I stopped. I then became involved in a very volatile relationship and fell pregnant at the age of 44 to my partner. Unfortunately I lost the baby at 3 months and then the next week I lost my aunt who I was very close to. This was my last trigger and probably the worst. I had a nervous breakdown. I was suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and severe depression. This led me to go and see my doctor and be put on antidepressants and a Mental Health Plan.

I have been seeing my Counsellor for the last 18 months now. This is a very long process as I have been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that started when I was a child. This hasn’t always been on a regular basis as I am not able to afford it myself and can only go to the allocated visits. I still have bouts of depression and when I am not in counselling I return to binge drinking as a way to cope. I am still unable to work due to the fear of a relapse and not being able to care for my children.

Without this counsellor’s help and support I really don’t think I would be here. It is very hard to pull yourself out of depression unless you have full support of a trained professional.

My visits are now coming to an end and I have to spread them out to make them last. I try not to think about being unable to have her support whilst I am waiting to see if I am eligible for anymore visits.

It is a long road for me and I know that it could take a lifetime to have a fulfilling life. But I will get there because I am a survivor.

Note: Reading personal stories can be confronting for some people. If you need to chat with someone urgently for support, please contact Lifeline for their free crisis support services. If you’re under 18 you can also contact Kids Help Line.