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Blog | 18 July 2023

Survivor Voices - "Words for The Voiceless" by Rachel W

TW: Mentions of child abuse and rape.

Have you ever felt like you just don’t have the words? What are the words? Where are the words to describe the absolute hell we have endured as survivors of sexual violence?

I attended my first therapy session about 12 years ago. My CPTSD had been re-triggered after a long bout of denial, you know, the denial of maybe I’d made it up. If only that was the case, I would have given away my limbs in return for a life less tortured.

Throughout my session, I had an overwhelming desire to speak out about all I was subjected to. I stuttered, falling over words that didn’t form any sentence or make any sense, it took, two entire hours of the session to say one coherent sentence.

In time, due to trust and relationships, my therapist found creative ways to help me find the words. My growth accelerated after she started reading to me. She read a book that was a true story of a survivor of childhood abuse. I would sit and listen closely for anything that resonated. The words I heard helped me to form the words of my story. After a few years of our beautiful, though gruelling, therapeutic journey, she suggested I went along to a group at Survivors’ Network.

My first group I noticed how the volunteers had and said all of the words that I would stumble on. I would sit and listen to all of the survivors’ ability to share parts of their experience, their strength, and their hope. Such bravery and courage, a safe space for women and self-identifying women I could feel the strength of the group, so incredibly powerful.

As a part of my therapy and due to the continued frustration of finding the words for my voice, I went home and wrote a poem.

I have learned that poems are a good reflection of my heart, my purpose. At the next group, I asked if I could read it out, and so I did. In time other survivors began to write poems and shared them with me and sometimes the group. Not only did I benefit from the space to speak out others benefited too.

What an incredible way to become empowered. What an incredible way to support empowerment!

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, of rape, of child sexual exploitation and of all the physical and emotional abuse that went with that. I am also a survivor of the care system.

I choose to talk about and write about my story, with the hope it helps you with yours.

You are not alone and I believe you.


Rachel is a poet, campaigner and educator for professionals who work in childcare, delivering expert training on safeguarding children and recognising signs of abuse

. Listen to one of her poems here.