Author: Olga Venosa
Ever since the age of 8 years old it has been my dream to run a charity supported to bettering the lives of those who have experienced violence or suffering. The 29th of May 2017 I was lucky enough to fulfil my dream and on my birthday I set up We Are Stronger with the aim of preventing bullying and helping those who have experienced verbal, physical abuse and harassment.
When I was a child, I was a victim of protracted sexual assault and violence, that lasted 10 years. My only escape door was studying and sports, but eventually a bigger reality change the whole scenario. Following this abuse, I was mentally scarred. I was afraid, anxious and ashamed. I felt as though there was no one I could turn to. This secret shame I carried with me led to an intense vulnerability which shaped my teenage years. It left me very open to bullying and harassment. In an attempt to hide my sexuality and femininity, I became reluctant to speak to boys, to date,I was getting anxious when attending parties, I was no longer able to concentrate when studying, I got into bulimia, and my confidence was terribly low. This led to rumours being spread about me, various forms of bullying and often being left out and picked upon. This has allowed me to see first-hand the affects that abuse can have on the entirety of a person's formative years.
Bullying brings with it a whole host of other issues. For me I went through anxiety, disordered eating, bulimia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Throughout my teenage years I came to a point in my life where I no longer wanted to care for myself, I even gave up sports - the one consistent joy in my life. I was under a huge amount of stress and paranoia that someone would find out what happened to me as a child and that this could fuel further bullying and harassment. This is sadly all too common with victims of abuse, which is why I strive so hard to provide a voice and a message for all survivors to speak up and talk to someone as soon as they can. It took me a while to realise what had happened was not my fault and that I should not feel ashamed. One of the best decisions I ever made was to eventually tell my family everything that had happened to me as a child and that was still happening to me as a teenager. Though my mother first reaction was a rejection of reality, after almost a year she metabolised the gravity of the issue and took me to see a psychotherapist, a nutritionist to get me the help I needed with my mental health and eating disorder. My curiosity accompanied my days with psychology and neuroscience books, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and my favourite passion dancing.
Since then I have vowed to be honest and open with my story in the hopes that it encourages others to seek the help they need and deserve. My journey to get to where I am today, a healthy and happy individual and the successful founder of a charity has not been an easy one, but it goes to show that with dreams, hard work and determination you can achieve anything you set your mind to and that it can get better for everyone.
Let's make the world a better place!