A Derbyshire counsellor who was sexually abused by her father as a child is reaching out to fellow survivors with a book that documents her inspiring road to recovery.
Standing Strong in Vulnerability has been a while in the making and at times saw author Madeleine Slack ‘sat at the computer, feeling like I was pulling teeth’.
But the 46-year-old Bolsover mum says if the book ‘offers hope to just a few people and helps them grow through the pain’, it will have been worth the 14-month toil.
Madeleine was just seven-years-old when her father began sexually abusing her at home, under the nose of her oblivious mum and siblings.
“I don’t know when it stopped,” said Madeleine.
“I know it was before I started secondary school, so I must have been 10 or 11. The abuse kind of left my spear of consciousness and then when I was 28, I had a meltdown.
“By that time I was a mum to three boys under three-years-old and I just assumed I had post-natal depression.
“But it wasn’t until I had counselling and began to peel back the layers of the onion, as it were, that the past came to the fore.
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“Luckily for me, my friend was a counsellor and said one day, do you want to talk? That changed everything.”
With therapy, Madeleine finally found the strength to tell her family what had happened. Two weeks later, her father committed suicide.
Her family, who were ‘innocent parties in all of this’, form part of a rich support network that encouraged Madeleine to later pursue a career helping other survivors of sexual abuse.
She is now a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist and runs an online platform, Ssassi, on Facebook and Instagram.
Madeleine added: “All I’ve wanted to do for a long time was to reach out to people and set the wheels in motion for them to seek out change, show them a new way.
“I lead a happy life now. I used my past experiences to do my best to help others. One lady who read my book said it had allowed her to find love and compassion for her younger self that
just wasn’t there before.
“Moments like that are why I wrote this book.”
Standing Strong in Vulnerability is available to buy on Amazon from August 31.