Grace Victory Opens Up About Healing from Abuse and Empowering Others
A refreshing burst of energy, enthusiasm and authenticity, Grace Victory has gone from ‘the internet’s big sister’, to a woman who is not only stepping into her own power, but is emphatically encouraging everyone to do the same.
Her honest and genuine nature has helped start many crucial conversations, and empowered others to open up, seek help, and know that they’re not alone.
Now, after starting a new chapter in her own life, Grace tells Happiful about changing course, the role therapy plays in her life, and finding ‘the one’
“Unexpected” is Grace Victory’s response when I ask her to describe 2019 to date. She’s cradling a cup of tea in her hands, as we’re both cosied up on the sofa in the corner of the photography studio, while the unseasonal summer rain pounds down outside.
This scenario immediately feels like a chat with a friend rather than a formal interview – and that’s a very good thing.
Grace’s ability to be instantly at ease with other people, and to talk openly and authentically about her life experiences, is a talent that has contributed to her incredible success and popularity. She’s been an online presence since 2011, gaining the title of ‘the internet’s big sister’ due to her honest, relatable, and authentic approach.
Over the past eight years, Grace has amassed a loyal and global following for her work. She’s a TedX speaker, the author of No Filter, presenter of the highly acclaimed BBC Three programme Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets, and she’s created a plethora of content across all her channels; covering topics from plus-size fashion and beauty, to sex, trauma, therapy, relationships, periods, and spirituality. She is a woman of great style, and great substance.
This year, however, and its “unexpected” nature, came after 2018 saw Grace questioning her life direction and choices.
“Last year was the beginning of my world literally turning upside down,” Grace explains. “I describe my life like a map – there are roads, train journeys... it has all kinds of stuff. And I took a hammer to the whole map.”
Grace left the relationship she was in, stopped producing some of her content – specifically on YouTube – and began working with a therapist again.
“I knew that I needed to heal deeply. I knew that things had to change, but I don’t think anything prepares you for the change that therapy, self-development, and self-awareness is going to bring you.”
Working through traumatic experiences Grace had as a child was part of that self-development, and she’s candid about the impact the therapeutic work had on her, as well as its importance in her healing.
“It was fucking hard! I think if you’ve experienced trauma of any kind, but specifically continuous childhood trauma, you develop really false perceptions of what the world is like. As a kid, I had to learn how to manipulate situations so that I could keep myself safe. If you haven’t gone to therapy before, you don’t know how to unlearn that.”
Grace worked with a male therapist because, she says, “how can I learn to trust men if I’ve never had a male therapist?”, and as well as addressing the past, Grace had the realisation that she needed to explore her adult relationships too, acknowledging her challenges around vulnerability and intimacy.
I’ve worked so hard to have this life, and it’s slowly forming in front of me
“I remember having this light bulb moment,” she shares. “I realised that with sex, I used to always perform. It was never really like true, like authentic. And I pride myself on being authentic.”
After a month of therapy, the first unexpected life-shift happened. Grace met Lee, the man she now describes as being her “soulmate” – although the first time they spoke, she was left in tears…
“I met this guy on Bumble,” she smiles broadly. “I literally knew within a second that he was ‘the one’.”
Lee and Grace took the conversation from online, to phoneline and: “After we had our first conversation, I panicked. I cried. I actually cried! I was like: ‘I’ve just met my soulmate, the other half of me. And now I’m shitting it!’
“I’d made all these plans to work on myself, and be single to work on myself, which I’m still doing, but the universe works in wonderful ways and it was obviously time that we met.”
Earlier this year, Grace left south London and moved in with Lee, in north-west London, where, she says, the energy feels positively different, and there is a massive sense of community – something that pleases her, as a self-professed homebody.
Moving in with Lee has also signalled a different type of ‘homecoming’, and Grace is reflective about their new beginning together. “I feel like I’ve worked so hard to have this life, and it’s slowly forming in front of me. This is what I always wanted as a kid.”
In true Grace style, she’s keen to point out that there have been learnings along the way. “I believe in astrology and I’m a Virgo, so I’m very organised and a clean freak – I like things in their places,” she laughs. “Whereas Lee is a Pisces – the complete opposite – just spread out and doesn’t realise how much work it takes to have a nice, clean, tidy home. So it’s been a journey and we’re learning how to compromise, and to show up for each other, but also for ourselves.”
Despite their differences around domestic issues, Grace is clearly deeply in love, and watching the two of them chat on her recent YouTube post, it’s obvious that the feeling is mutual.
The fact that Lee had started therapy prior to their meeting is an important factor in their relationship, according to Grace. “I think it’s really weird that Lee had just had his first session of therapy before meeting me! I always said I couldn’t date a man who’s not in therapy. I think it’s because I’m so self-aware and healing, and I need a man who’s doing the same.”
She’s deeply respectful of Lee and his experiences of counselling. “I’m really proud of him for going to therapy; I think mental health for men is such a minefield – it’s even more taboo than it is for women, especially being a black man. In the Jamaican and Caribbean culture, it’s so taboo and under the radar.”
Lee’s transparency around mental health support has had a ripple effect, too, opening up the possibility of counselling to members of his family, friends, and colleagues within the music profession. “Talking about mental health, especially for black men in that industry, it’s just incredible,” Grace enthuses. “I’m so proud of him. I just love him – he’s the most incredible man I have ever met. He’s just like this beam of light.”
I have great self-belief because I think it can get you places nothing else can
Grace has an amazingly positive energy. She says what she feels – and she says it with gusto. She’s passionate about mental health and wellness, and is committed to spreading the word about the power of therapy, and promoting the type of self-belief she demonstrated when she changed her own life-direction last year.
And for cynics who might feel that self-belief is easier for someone who has the success Grace has now? They would do well to look at her journey to the place she is in today. “It’s a privilege for some not to have self-belief,” Grace asserts. “I think that if you go around life and you get things handed to you, you’re obviously not going to believe anything bigger than that, because it’s just normal to you.
“Whereas me, I had to believe that I was going to get out of my family situation, the home town I grew up in, I had to believe that, otherwise life would have been really fucking shit. So, I have great self-belief because I think it can get you places nothing else can.
“I haven’t gone to university,” Grace continues. “I wasn’t particularly academic. I just lead a really incredible life because I believe that I deserve it. I think more women should believe that they deserve to be happy and ascend in their power.”
To read more of Grace's exclusive chat with us, pick up the August issue of Happiful in supermarkets from Thursday 18 July.
Follow Grace on Instagram @gracefvictory, and read more from her at graciefrancesca.com.
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Photography | Paul Buller
Make-up and Hair | Lo Dias
Styling | Krishan Parmar