Whether you’ve suffered sexual abuse, rape or domestic violence, the moment you realise it was NOT your fault is the moment that changes everything – forever.
But sometimes that truth can take time to really hit home. I was in my 40s before I finally accepted it. Up to that point, I had careened around my life like a bull in a china shop. I had no idea the reason for that was all the unhealed pain, guilt, shame and anger that stemmed from my abuse.
Those feelings were actually the puppet masters of my life. Mood swings, volatile relationships, scratching myself till I bled, using sex to numb the pain, stagnating in my career, anxiety, insomnia and depression.They have all been a part of my life as ways to cope, ways to gain relief, ways to avoid the fears and somehow keep me safe.
However, they don’t feature in my life anymore. Because I found my voice. I said no to feeling oppressed and silenced. And I found a way to see my abuse in a new, more empowering light. I took back control of my feelings, my power, and my life and that’s the journey I now support other women to have.
Hi, I’m Maggie Irwin
I am passionate about helping people who suffered childhood abuse, rape and domestic violence to free themselves from the past, find their voice and start living their lives with courage, confidence and self-belief.
Maybe that sounds scary to you right now, the idea of change, and the thought of looking at your past. If it does, that’s OK, I totally understand and have been there myself.
But I’m here to help you realise that you no longer need to simply survive this life – you can thrive in it. You probably don’t have much trust is life’s possibilities (something most of us as survivors struggle with), but I’ll share a little of my story to show you this transformation really can happen.
The Early Years
I was abused for many years as a child. I didn’t tell anyone. I thought it was my fault. It left a labyrinth of scars on my psyche and my soul, but of course I didn’t know that at the time. All the emotions the abuse left me with – anger, shame, guilt, fear – I was too young to know what to do with so I internalised them all. By the time I left school I had no qualifications, no self-esteem, no courage, no motivation, poor self-image and poor self-esteem. To say I had a negative outlook on life was an understatement.
As an adult I did the best I could to cope with all the turmoil inside me, but I simply didn’t know how. So I ran the gamut of depression, insomnia, sky-high anxiety levels and self-destructive behaviours – I drank too much, I self-harmed and I put myself in dangerous situations.
Eventually I just withdrew altogether. I didn’t see friends or family and ended up just feeling alone and isolated (even when I was in a relationship). One day I got tired of waking up feeling depressed and feeling scared all the time.
Journey Towards Healing
So I took my first courageous step down my road to healing, which took in many years of counselling, psychodrama, psychotherapy and finally NLP and hypnotherapy.
NLP was the turning point in my life. It was the tool that helped me see my sexual abuse for what it really was – an experience that I was separate from, and that I could choose to see differently.
I believe NLP and hypnotherapy to be so powerful that I went on to train as a Master Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner so that I could use this magic tool to help other survivors of sexual abuse to change their lives too.
That pivotal moment really did see major shifts start to happen in my life. After 30 years in the NHS as an auxiliary nurse I finally, in my late forties, trained as a mental health nurse – I had never believed I was good enough before. I actually went for and passed my driving test – fears of failure and self-doubt had kept me a passenger my whole life.
During this time I set up shop as a sexual abuse specialist so that I could help others who were trapped by their past – thoughts of “Who are you to do this”, a lack of self-belief and too many fears to mention kept me playing small and keeping my gifts from those who need them and the everyday changes are extraordinary too:
- I know I matter
- I ask for what I need and want
- I am not afraid to share my story
- I am not influenced anymore by other people’s opinions of me
- I am proud of myself
Now, I truly believe I am living my purpose
Helping fellow survivors of sexual abuse to do the work they need to do, so that they can go on to experience their own power, find the courage to own their story, and to experience their true magnificence.
The gift of my experience – as I now choose to see it – is that I can deeply understand what it is like for my clients, all their fears and feelings, which means I can provide the safe, supportive and healing space they need to share their story and transform their lives.
If you are that person who is finally fed up with feeling defeated and miserable and are ready to thrive, grow and be happy, then take a look at the ways we can work together over here.
If you want to know a few more facts, feelings and accolades, then read on to the FAQs below!
So Maggie, what’s in your magic toolbox of treatments?
Let’s see, here are the shiny bits of paper I’ve got on my walls:
- A Bachelor in Medical Science
- Advanced Diploma in Nursing Studies, Specialising in Mental Health
- SNHS Diploma in Life Coaching
- SNHS Diploma in Stress Management and Relaxation
- Diploma in Clinical and Therapeutic Hypnotherapy
- Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Why do you care about helping sexual abuse survivors so much?
Because no one should ever be used or abused by another. We all deserve to be treated with respect, kindness and compassion.
What do you do for (healthy) fun these days?
Ooh, I like a holiday with my wonderful, fun friends.
I like to take a walk in the woods and countryside near my home in South Yorkshire.
And I like some quality time with my amazing husband, who I’ve lived with for 20 years and married in 2006.
What’s your biggest breakthrough?
Realising that my story matters. I have a voice – and I can use it! (In fact, I’ve already started to write my memoir, so watch this space!)
Do you really think everyone can overcome sexual abuse, rape or domestic violence?
Without a doubt. The tools I use help people make huge strides forward – and never turn back.
How do you view your abuse now?
As something that happened, but doesn’t define me. I choose to see it for the gifts it provided – the gifts of strength, courage, personal power, resilience, and the ability to inspire others on a similar path.
What words could you share that would help another survivor?
You may not realise it right now, but you can choose to live a different life, to see your abuse in a more empowering light.
You have greatness within you, and you can step into that greatness and become magnificent.
I believe in you. I know you can do this.
If you can feel that little seed of hope inside you that a different, better life is possible, and you’re ready to help it bloom, then take a look at my Survivor to Thriver programme, over here.
Stop Hiding and Start Shining!
I've produced a useful mini eGuide, 10 Tips For Instant Confidence In Social Situations (without feeling forced or fake) - and it's free! We all know that socialising is a great way to expand your social circle, meet new people and connect with those you care about. But when life sucks, or when you’re feeling invisible, shy or anxious around other people, it can be a hotbed for feelings that block you from your own internal power. This guide will help you to unblock this power and has highly effective tips that you can put into action right away for an instant confidence boost. Confidence and self-worth isn’t a fluke for the lucky few, it’s a birthright that is yours to claim.
Click here to download 10 Tips For Instant Confidence In Social Situations. (Left-click to open in your browser, right-click and select "Save link as" or similar to save to your computer).