Posted 05/02/2021

Frontline Story from our Foyer - Meet *Sophie

This is the story of Sophie's* journey, written in her own words. Sophie* moved into Swan House Foyer in 2017 as a quiet, shy and sad young girl, dealing with a long and controversial pending court case against her abuser.

In January 2021 this court case finally came to an end - with her abuser now facing a 30-year sentence. She found her voice and courage to bravely stand trial. Sophie is now able to find happiness and move forward with her life. She is a brave, courageous, fantastic and talented young lady who we have seen flourish. She now knows there is light at the end of the tunnel. With her sights set on her new-found life, we are so proud of the person she has become.

Here is her story.

My Story at Swan House Foyer, I have finally completed my journey.

It’s 2017. Walking into Swan House Foyer was terrifying…. I didn’t know what the future held. Was I was going to benefit from being here or I would crumble as my mental health was suffering? I had no idea how I was going to cope without having immediate family around because everyone needs them RIGHT?

WRONG. My family were against me… I was fighting a battle that had been a secret for 10 years. I was going into a place where people asked me questions like ‘why are you here?’ or ‘will you be seeing your parents at Christmas?’ I was always so quiet and calm, I didn’t say a thing, but I was really longing for someone to be my friend so I could pour my heart out to them.

A court case trial which I never thought would happen, an unsure mind of what to do? Mums and dads are meant to help in making the most difficult decisions, aren’t they? Yeah, I will mention it again, sadly I didn’t have that. I had grown up in an environment where my opinion didn’t matter, and it wasn’t ever valid. I lost a lot in my 22 years of existence, yeah, the odd pound because I decided to spend it on some rubbish, I didn’t need... But aren’t family members and friends the most important thing in life? I lost was my childhood completely and I had to grow up so fast.

Throw me into the army, I would be able to adjust quickly, as that’s what my life was like - military style. I have gone through things that I would never, ever want anybody else to go through. Abuse. I’ve said those words over and over to someone, who still does not want to bring themselves to accept, that in fact, their daughter along with her sister had been sexually abused for ten years.

The trial that was building up has happened. It was a long wait. He got his punishment and I got my justice. He received 24 years imprisonment and a further 6 years on license.

But I do have to live with this for life. I know now, that my life is now my choice. What I saw for my future, he tried to strip me away from. He tried to strip away my entire identity. This is now my time to shine.

I’m going to put it into a drawer and tuck it away, because I don’t need to think about it anymore. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor and I am a success. My support network has grown throughout the years, along with Swan House Foyer playing a big part in that. I found the most precious person in my manager at work (I work in a primary school) who took me in and showed me love and kindness.

Swan House Foyer has been amazing they have helped me blossom into this flower, I have been given a second chance to bloom… I was very shy and quiet, but now I can finally say I have found my voice! The advice and support from staff have helped me stand up and read my impact statement in court. It was something so personal and so sensitive, I had to read in front of complete strangers. I found the courage to do this because Swan made me feel that I was and am the most important person in my life and that the courage I have is amazing, (because I never saw it before).Yeah, they can nag a little and the rent is pricey (haha) but you do get the most understanding and gentle people. They have made me see I am worth it.

Along with the encouragement and sometimes serious talking... Swan, you have the most hilarious laughs and have given me the best memories. Take something so traumatic and you can mold it into anything you wish - because your story isn’t over yet… my story isn’t over yet. I have found my voice and my confidence is slowly coming back. It’s amazing how something so massive can take its toll on you and completely throw you off the narrow path you were once walking on, but only walking that narrow path because you were being told to keep quiet, keep it a secret.

I would like to mention staff both past and present in helping me get to where I am today. Denise my Young People Coach is so inspiring; she has helped me to realise I am amazing. She is just as amazing. She has a wicked sense of humour and never fails to make me laugh, even at times when I didn’t feel I could. She really brought out a Sophie* that I didn’t know existed.

I wanted to take this time to thank ALL the staff who have come and gone from Swan House Foyer and seeing the journey that I have been on because without you, I would not of achieved my greatest triumph. Becoming me.

This week I found out I have been put forward for independent living. WATCH OUT WORLD. I don’t want you to remember the scared, quiet, victim Sophie* but the Sophie* that’s laughing and continuing to hold her head up high forevermore.



*Name changed.