Feeling understood, confident and prepared for the future as a child paves the way for many to succeed in their adult lives. But what is the effect of living through a difficult childhood? Often it can last a lifetime, leaving a person more vulnerable to experiencing challenges with addiction and an even greater likelihood to suffer abuse once again.
Born and raised in Scotland, Sylvia faced unthinkable tribulations throughout all of her life. After experiencing a tough childhood, in her early twenties she finally saw a way out through marriage.
“I lost my sense of identity.”
What felt like an escape from her childhood household and the start of a new and exciting journey quickly escalated into Sylvia being subjected to verbal, emotional and psychological abuse as well as enduring horrific physical violence. With no one to turn to Sylvia would often fear for her safety and life. Eventually she lost her sense of identity, self-worth and found herself trapped in a cycle of violence. Despite all of the adversities she was facing, Sylvia lived with the comforting prospect of one day building a better future for her three sons – this prospect is the reason behind her courage and determination to break the cycle of abuse.
“I’ll never forget the beautiful memory of me and my boys walking along hand in hand, swinging our arms, and feeling a sense of freedom.”
Ten years later a glimmer of hope came after receiving a phone call from a friend. With an opportunity to move to England Sylvia packed up and left Scotland with her three sons. However, starting a new life in a town near Burnley came with difficulties, but nothing compared to the sense of relief, freedom and seeing the smiles on her son’s faces. They were finally safe – yet, Sylvia’s challenges didn’t end there.
“I nearly died, if it wasn’t for my friends saving me I wouldn’t be here. That was my wakeup call.”
With very little support Sylvia found herself in the grips of addiction. Over time her lifestyle spiralled out of control, but after experiencing a near death situation Sylvia was determined to turn her life around. She found sobriety and an even stronger faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of where Sylvia was on her journey she lived with a strong faith of one day finding peace.
“My life has been riddled with trauma but I’ve always kept my faith – I walk with the Lord and the Lord walks with me, I trust in his plan – my strength comes from him.”
If determination, strength and courage were a person, it would be Sylvia! Her story is one of inspiration to never lose hope and faith. At COTS we feel blessed that Sylvia felt comfortable enough to share her journey with us.
“I have a fear of being judged. COTS is a safespace and feels like a family where everyone is accepted and not judged – a place where I wanted to share my story.”
Now, you’ll find Sylvia serving selflessly every week in the COTS cafe, volunteering in other communities, running an art club, and spending her time helping out in charity shops.
“Recently I designed and created a banner that signposts to a group that I am involved with. I’ve always wanted to do it, It was like a dream coming true!”
We can not wait to see where Sylvia’s journey takes her next and couldn’t be more pleased with having her as part of our community!