My transformation — in a nutshell

Debra Reay
4 min readJan 13, 2022


Abuse changes a person, in ways that you are never the same as before. For me, I ended my abuse at the age of 21 but the perpetrators didn’t face prosecution and continued to deny ever putting their hands on me!

There were several abusers, all within the family, except one — the neighbour.

The others were my father, a brother, and a stepbrother. Then my stepmother, stepsister, and the man next door.

I say it changed me, and it did — I was always a bit of a loner and developed problems with trust and people leaving me. I couldn’t let anyone touch me, not even safe touch, because what is that…and because of the what’s ifs? What if they tried to hurt me or what if they left?

A positive change though was my attitude to life and how I am learning to adjust to this new me! I grew up being afraid of what I would wear, how I would wear my hair, etc. T-shirts and jeans or tracksuits — nothing that would encourage anyone, or at least that is what I had hoped!

As the years went on, I began to allow myself to heal, be happy, and live again. Doing as I please and not being afraid of life.

They robbed me of my soul but even though nobody faced a jury, I’m living in my truth while they are either deceased or living with what they did and what they allowed others to do!!

This section had just been edited and trauma-related incidents added

Throughout my whole childhood, I experienced daily beatings from my stepmother, who thought it was acceptable to be such a violent and vicious human being. At another time she allowed her daughter, my stepsister to viciously beat me in the next room, while family members listened but ignored my cries.
My stepsister also made me kneel with my hands behind my back while allowing her son to beat me — her audience, my family watching on!!

The sexual abuse was and is something that I struggle with, a struggle to accept, understand and process, but on my 16th birthday, being trapped in the family home with my father led to him carrying out his threat to rape me. I was raped several times by him and my stepbrother.
When I left home aged 21, and soon after, I miscarried, not knowing who was responsible saw me destroyed!
Unfortunately, I went down a road that saw me drinking too much alcohol and taking tablets, anything to end the pain. A few times I had taken an overdose and on one occasion ended up in hospital.

Over the years, I was told everything happens for a reason, but I couldn’t comprehend that — why did they do such things? There is no reason to accept these actions!

But now, I look at it with my fresh eyes and — yes things do happen for a reason, not sure of the reason but I am stronger because of what I went through, and I can, without guilt or shame, tell my story because I am the one smiling (most of the time)

I write this piece to give you, the reader an insight into me and who I am! I am not a victim but a survivor. I try being mindful of other survivors of abuse because of triggers!!

In January 2020 I decided to have a go at writing a poem as something to do! I never saw myself as any kind of writer and certainly not a poet. However, by January 2021, I had been selected to have two poems published in The Beckindale Poetry Journal and The Cambridge Poetry Journal.

This was the beginning of my writing journey. Now, two years on — I have lost count of how many poems I have written, and I now can’t imagine a life without words, my words…A life without my story being told!

All people, male or female and who have been abused, are a warrior — survivors!

I’m not the trauma you
Created, but the warrior I
I grew and fought to become


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All of my writing here and elsewhere is my own work, all published online!!

Writer/poet — © 2020 to present



Debra Reay

Writer, Poet and survivor of childhood abuse! Author of poem's~A Child Unloved, Soul Destroyed and more recently, The little girl in yellow bows.