Vigaland Non-celebrity #MeToo Story #12-Joy - VIGALAND


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Vigaland Non-celebrity #MeToo Story #12-Joy

I was twenty when I lost my virginity, but it was not a losing of choice. It was not an act of love.

I remember lying in my own bed, naked, a guy that I knew on top of me, his hands everywhere, his breath heavy, an overmastering desire emanating from him. My own thinking was dulled, my vision blurred, my sense of control gone. I had been drinking hard all night, shot after shot, trying to numb the pain of a recent breakup. Now I was home and I wanted it to stop. I wanted to sleep. It wasn’t fun any more.

I tried to communicate through nervous, thick lips that I hadn’t done this before, that I wanted to stop, but his strong “shhhh!” silenced me and I slowly found myself sinking back into the pillows, suddenly unable to control what was happening. In that moment it was like a cloud enveloped me and I became merely a bystander to my own life. Pain seared through me, from between my legs, and I let out a cry, which again was silenced by the grunting man on top of me. Some time afterwards it stopped, I don’t quite remember when, and the next thing I knew sunlight was filling my room.

Nausea was causing my stomach to swirl and the remnants of the night before were strewn around the room. I checked my phone to find a string of anxious messages from dear friends, who had either seen me that night, or who had been ‘randomly’ thinking about me and wanted to know I was ok. Was I ok? I wasn’t sure…what had even happened?

It was Sunday and I was meant to be serving at my church service that evening, but all I wanted to do was hide. I felt empty, used. I felt ashamed and dirty. I felt worthless. After throwing all of my bedlinen in the wash, I sent my apologies to my friends at church and spent the rest of the day on the sofa, wrapped in my duvet.

A week later, whilst I was on a night out celebrating my friend’s birthday, a guy who was high on cocaine sexually assaulted me in a bar. I was done. I didn’t want anything more to do with men. I was angry. I was hurting. I was broken and ashamed. It felt like I had been robbed of everything, left with nothing more to give.

It was several months before I was able to admit to what had taken place in my bedroom, or to equate my experience with the ‘r’ word. Rape. In September 2009 I travelled to Brazil, four months following that night, to partake in a residential course on sexuality. The aim of the course was to try and understand the different ways that our sexuality has been abused and distorted, and how we can find healing and restoration from such acts. It was one of the most intense yet beautiful six weeks of my life.

Throughout the first two or three weeks of my being there, I kept experiencing flashbacks from that night, which I would immediately shut down and try to ignore. After a while, I mentioned these to our course leader who then encouraged me that maybe it’s time I faced up to what had happened in order to find freedom. Following her encouragement, the next time that a flashback started to resurface, I remained with the memory and let it play out, in the process teaching myself about what had happened. I wrote everything down, every second of memory that returned to me, and as I read over the play by play of that night, the truth of what had occurred became a reality to me.

When you are faced with truth, whatever it might be pertaining to in particular, you have a choice to make as to how you will respond. In this scenario, the truth could have kept me bitter and angry, untrusting of men and resentful of their masculinity. It also could have triggered promiscuity, deepening a lack of personal self-worth and solidifying the lie that I am nothing more than an object to be used. As I processed through the myriad of emotions that surfaced however, one thing stood out the most; I knew I needed to forgive.

Forgiveness is not saying that what was done to you was ok. Abuse in any form is definitely not ok. But forgiveness allows you to take the control back by acknowledging what was done to you, how it made you feel and what is owed to you by the perpetrator. It then takes you full circle and gives you the opportunity to release, not just the person who has wronged you, but also yourself, from the injustice. When you forgive someone, you cut the invisible tie that will otherwise keep you emotionally, mentally, sometimes even physically chained to a person or event. Forgiveness has within its hands the gift of freedom.

This wasn’t a decision that happened overnight for me, neither was it easy. In fact, I have learnt that sometimes I have had to repeatedly choose to forgive and release someone from however they have hurt me, as fresh layers of trauma have been revealed or something has triggered an area of pain connected to how they once treated me. Choosing to forgive someone is just that – a choice, and one that involves a journey.

My choice to forgive took me from being a victim, and labeling myself as such, to rising as an overcomer. When something has been stolen from you – your virginity, your innocence, your right to choose, your voice, your freedom – it leaves you scarred and triggers your inner self protection mode in order to prevent such abuse happening again. Whilst it is good to guard our hearts, have wisdom and good boundaries, we can run the risk of cutting ourselves off from healthy relationships when our focus is all about protecting self.

Six years after I was raped, I married the love of my life, a man who knows how to honour, cherish, empower and love me. The abuse that I went through has in no way marred our relationship or our ability to be physically intimate, but is something that we openly talk about when the need arises. To me, my relationship with my husband is a testament to the healing that I have found and the power that forgiveness has to set us free from trauma.

Owning your own story, the broken pieces as well as the healed victories, empowers others to own their’s and walk out their own journey of healing. I am not defined by what a man has done to me and neither are you.


“Joy Attmore is originally from Liverpool, England but she now resides in New York City with her husband Phillip. She is the CEO and Founder of The Beauty for Ashes Movement (, an NYC based non-profit which reaches and empowers women and girls engaged in the sex industry to find freedom, rediscover their identity and live out their true purpose. Joy is also the author of ‘Broken By Beauty’ and writes regularly for XRhythms Radio as well has her own blog,


The post Vigaland Non-celebrity #MeToo Story #12-Joy appeared first on Viga Boland: Author & Speaker.

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