Following childhood abuse, Emma-Jane experienced trauma that no one should have to. Over the years, she tried every type of therapy you can imagine, but the most liberating thing was finding the courage to speak up
Please be aware this article contains details that some readers may find distressing.
In 1981, I was sexually abused by the restaurant owner who befriended my family on a holiday overseas. I was nine years old. I had no idea what had happened to me that night, or that it was going to be a trigger later in my life.
I lived with my mum and stepfather, but every other weekend I would spend
with my biological father. My parents separated when I was about three years old, and I was happy with my life – I knew no different.
Some of my earliest, happiest memories were of the weekends with my father. I idolised him; he was my hero, someone I couldn’t wait to see. He had a twinkle in his eye, and would make me laugh. I loved him deeply. But that was about to change.
In 1984, when I was 12, my father picked me up for the weekend. After a short drive, he stopped the car. He told me there was a “problem in our relationship’’. I felt sick.
I wasn’t sure what he meant until the next night when he called and told me he couldn’t have a relationship with me again until I was older.
I replaced the receiver and ran out the house with my mum and stepfather in hot pursuit, with hot tears streaming down my face. In the blink of an eye my hero had gone. I was devastated.
My father abandoning me has affected my relationships ever since. I struggled to make decisions for a long time for fear of the consequences. Life became a sea of darkness; I was a nervous wreck and suffered with abandonment issues. I went off the rails at school, at home, and with myself. I was deeply insecure, vulnerable, with low self-esteem, and desperate to be loved and needed.
I lost my memory for a big chunk of time, and cried constantly. The once happy child was fading away, and in her place became a withdrawn, nervous, and sad girl.
High school became a troubling time, and I had no enthusiasm. It wasn’t long before I was labelled a ‘juvenile delinquent’ and sent to a child psychologist. I also had a weekly meeting with one of my teachers, but it was a waste of time – I just cried and skirted around the truth, too afraid to say anything.
In 1985, aged 13, I fell into a sexually abusive relationship with a much older man who, until this point, had been known to my family, and was someone I completely trusted. He took advantage of me, carefully groomed me, and became my friend – I guess he became my missing father figure.
He showered me with affection and gifts. But there was a price to pay; I was degraded, tortured, raped, and manipulated. He controlled my every move, would follow my bus to school, and watch me go in through the gates. He would be there when I got on the bus to come home. He was obsessed. He would manipulate me to sneak out from my house in the middle of the night. He would give me alcohol and drugs, and then take advantage of me.
My schooling suffered, I became addicted to painkillers to numb the hangovers. I drank heavily, smoked, took drugs, laxatives, and became bulimic. I was lost and broken with suicidal thoughts.
I trusted this older man, and no one else. Hindsight is a great thing, and I can now see how easily this happened. I was a sitting duck, a child abandoned by her biological father, vulnerable, who had no self-worth.
If I had my life again I would prefer to not experience what I have, but I have found my strength to speak up, to stand tall, and I have learnt to use my voice to support others
In 1987, aged 15, I started to realise right from wrong, and I mustered up the strength to step away from him – but it wasn’t easy. He was everywhere I went. He would threaten me, and at times I was unsure if I’d survive his temper, but 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 secrets inside of me.
For years I questioned why I let this happen to me – why didn’t I talk about it? 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.
Through my recovery years in therapy, I’ve learned to forgive, I’ve 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’ve been taught valuable lessons that can now help others. I’m open to therapy at any time, and I encourage others to speak up. It’s 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, but I felt that hypnotherapy and psychotherapy helped the most – though it was tough. Some days my therapist would take me back into difficult situations (with my consent) to help me release locked memories, and other days we did gentle sessions to aid my recovery.
I remember one particular hypnotherapy session where we went deeper into my locked memories, which I can categorically tell you was the toughest day of my life – but equally the best day. So much pain was released, and after a few quiet days resting, I started to regain my strength.
I’ve tried many treatments to support my mental state, including acupuncture, meditation, yoga, clairvoyance, EFT, and reflexology. If I feel wobbled now, I usually check-in with my clairvoyant. She is a great focus for me, and someone I wholeheartedly trust.
If I had my life again I would prefer to not experience what I have, but after nearly 36 years I’ve found my strength to speak up, to stand tall, and I have learnt to use my voice to support others. I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence as I did.
In 2018, I took part in a BBC Three documentary, and 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 – they ran in parallel lives. I have faced many fears, risen to many challenges, and in 2018 I published my first self-help book, Don’t Hold Back.
I’m an entrepreneur running a series of lifestyle businesses, and I now do public speaking engagements. I’ve worked with the BBC, That’s TV, and my new YouTube Channel ‘The Emma-Jane Taylor Show’. I present the Mid-Morning Matters show for Marlow FM Radio, and am thoroughly enjoying my freedom.
I feel liberated since I found the confidence to speak up. I’ve opened up many opportunities, and learnt to support others suffering in silence.
Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred), says:
Emma’s powerful story shows bravery and courage. Having faced such traumatic experiences, her determined attitude to seek help and overcome her personal difficulties is inspiring. Emma is a shining example of how speaking out about what’s going on internally can have a truly life changing-impact.