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My Story: ‘Sexual abuse destroyed my life for many years’

Yvonne Ellis shares her story of how finding faith in Jesus has helped heal and restore her after her childhood and adolescence were wrecked by sexual abuse.

“I grew up on Winstanley estate in South London, where I lived with my family; Mum, Dad, brother and sister. I could be shy around people at times but around my family, especially my siblings, I was comfortable being myself.

“But all that changed at nine years old when my Dad started to sexually abuse me. The assaults quickly escalated over a short period of time and continued for five years. I changed from a playful child to a child that had unpredictable mood swings. My behaviour changed too as I stole from my parents, lied and became secretive.

“It was when Childline came to my secondary school when I was 13 that I finally had a name for what was happening to me; sexual abuse. I didn’t want my Dad touching me anymore so I decided to take a risk and tell someone,

“I was taken into government care at 13, and from that point on I lived a life of rebellion and anger. By the time I was 14, I had started drinking alcohol, smoking weed and self-harming. I suffered from PTSD, depression and other trauma-related issues that affected my life. 

“By the time I left care at 17, I was a single mum burdened and broken by life. It was at the end of myself that God found me, and at 21, I became a born-again Christian.

“I struggled with my faith and because of my unresolved issues from sexual abuse I had a mental breakdown that resulted in me being hospitalised. But God is so faithful, he stood by me and loved me when I had nothing and no-one. Even when I rejected his love he still loved me regardless.

“Jesus became the mother and father that I never had and over time Jesus healed me from the depression, rejection, trauma and humiliation I experienced in the aftermath of being sexually abused.

“Sexual abuse destroyed my life for many years and it has been a 30-year journey to healing and restoration. I found my voice in writing my book Daughter Arise and decided I wanted to help others find theirs too. I set up Daughter Arise, a peer empowerment organisation to help survivors of sexual abuse find support and hope.  With God, all things are possible (Matt 19:26).

“If you had told me 30 years ago I would be here today as a voice for voiceless people, I never would have believed it. It is possible to overcome adversity and the challenges I have faced have developed me into the woman I am today.

“I am glad God turned what was meant to harm me into good.”

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