I knew when I decided to speak up about my own journey from victim to survivor to thriver from domestic violence, there would be disappointments and it would bring up old feelings. I was prepared for this. I thought long and hard about this and if it was something I was able to cope with.

If I am honest, part of me was hoping that someone else would step into this space. But I knew this was something I truly wanted to do — to spread my message of hope to women still on the other side of DV, the ones not yet free. I am happy with my decision to pay it forward. I have been out of my marriage for nearly a decade and I feel ready. I am free. The victim label surely has no place when it comes to me and my life.

But today for the first time in a very long time, I felt like a victim.

I had offered to give a talk at an event raising awareness and funds for DV. Whilst I knew and they knew how powerful my story is, they had to decline because they don’t let women who have lived through domestic violence share their story, because of safety issues. I completely understand this policy. I am the first to preach safety first when it comes to DV. But I have to admit it hurt, and I mean really hurt, to once again be considered a victim. I felt my heart sink and an old now unfamiliar feeling of under-confidence and lack of worth rose up inside and it brought me to tears.

Now I have suffered lots of setbacks and disappointments in the years since I left my marriage, some much worse than this. They didn’t bring me to tears. So I asked myself the question, ‘why’? Then it became clear: I was remembering what it was like to feel like a victim! I felt completely disempowered. It was a horrible feeling. I felt less than a person and this was a feeling I never wanted to feel again.

So I allowed myself time to have a good cry and as I cried I could see the blessing in my feeling. I remembered how it feels to be a victim and how hard it was to face up to that label to be able to admit to myself, ‘I am a victim of domestic violence’. I remember just how disempowered it felt and the disbelief that this statement reflected where I was in life. I was about to write ‘who I was’, but I may have felt it reflected who I was, but it certainly didn’t. I was being victimised in my marriage, but I was so much more than a victim. I just forgot that when I was in it and for a long while after I left.

This morning my feelings of being a victim soon passed and I am grateful that my safety was important to this organisation, but it has made me more determined than ever to share my story because if us thrivers of DV aren’t given a platform to share our stories, how are you ever going to know what is truly possible for you?

So remember you are so much more than your current circumstances and if you are strong enough to survive DV each and every day, you have already proved you have the strength you will need to leave. But as I was reminded today, remember safety is the key!

As for me? I am not giving up my voice of hope will be heard!