It is poignant to me that this blog be titled ‘I Am Someone’. For almost my entire life, I have been plagued by the words ‘I Am No One’. They follow me like a shadow, they echo inside my mind, I repeat them to myself like a mantra. I Am No One.

From age eleven to thirteen I was sexually molested by a man in a position of trust. He was riding instructor at pony club, and I wanted nothing more than to be one of his ‘favourites’. At first, he displayed his favouritism with attention. Lots of smiles and personal jokes, just between us. I was special, I was more talented than the others. With our friendship came lots of cuddles and tickles around the stables. Bending over to pick up my pony’s hooves, he would pinch my bottom or stand behind me and place his large hands on my small hips, pulling me in to him. On my pony, he would wrap his large hands around my upper thigh to demonstrate correct leg position, slipping his hand up to my groin. My psychologist has confirmed what I now know this type of sexual assault to be – grooming for sexual molestation. He was an expert in exploiting children’s desire to be favoured and gain approval.  In fact, he was grooming several other girls, and assaulting others more severely than he was me.

Two of the other girls he assaulted eventually went to their parents, and then to the police. He was convicted and sent to prison. I stayed quiet, believing my experience to be less severe than theirs, and therefore that I did not deserve any sympathy. The psychological injury his actions caused me were never recognised or healed. To make the pain go away, I decided that there was no pain. My belief that I Am No One had taken root. But the seed had been planted in early childhood – a child of a broken home, an emotionally-absent father and a broken-hearted mother desperate for love from men who had none to give. I learnt from a young age that any man in my life would always leave.

My life as a young adult has been a complicated game of finding feelings of power and control in all the wrong ways. I still struggle to accept that anyone would value my company without finding me attractive or with the prospect of sex. I have sex with people to feel an instant hit of emotions – to feel strong, to feel wanted, to feel valued – that disappear the morning after. A period of heavy drug use and risky behaviour meant I put myself in some very dangerous situations, and I suffered two more sexual assaults before the age of 20. Minimising the impact that these assaults had on me – blaming myself, blacking out the memories and affording myself no care further compounded the belief – I Am No One.

I’ve ruined genuine friendships and relationships because my self worth is so tied up with giving sex to whoever will take it. I’ve been pushy, needy, inappropriate, a liar and a cheater. I have no trust in others, and no trust in myself. What kind of life is that to live? I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and depersonalisation disorder. I wonder if I will ever be capable of good. Still, I strive everyday to be a Good Person. Some days I do well and other days I fail miserably. I wish I could explain to those I’ve hurt that my actions are a part of my mental illness. Perhaps I will get there one day. But my mantra, for now, remains. I Am No One.