It’s been so long now since the night I got attacked that I forgot sometimes how shocking it is for people to hear it for the first time. I guess I’ve done so much therapy and processing in the last few years that to me it’s just become a thing that happened. Life. A little blimp in the tapestry of my journey.
One of the things that I see often (other than the gasp at the horrificness of what is being told) is the surprise in people’s eyes that I actually came out alive and unharmed, well un-raped is I think what they mean. To be honest, I don’t know, nor have I heard of anyone who was in a one-on-one attack like that who managed to get out alive and unscathed. So I want to shed some light on to why I think my situation ended the way it did, and why I’m still here to tell the story.
- I am, and was extremely aware when I got attacked
Self-awareness is something I’ve always practiced naturally. Who am I? What do I stand for? Am I doing the right thing by me? Those are questions I’ve always asked myself, I think because my Dad installed such a strong sense of values within me. This kind of questioning obviously lit my interest in human behaviour and how I work as a person. I guess I’ve always seen myself as a kind of science experiment as I challenge myself throughout life – changing careers, changing countries, challenging and changing my beliefs. Practising this curiositymeant that I had already built up a strong sense of self-awareness and awareness of others so of course I was aware that night I got attacked. Being aware of him and his potential motives meant that I had already prepared myself subconsciously for something to happen. That’s the only reason that my survival response wasn’t ‘freeze’ like so many unfortunate women before me.
- I will fight to the death for what I believe in
Having the awareness to be prepared for a fight, I was then met with the worst case scenario – I had to fight. I did try to run which was my instant response, but obviously the guy grabbed me and he was a lot bigger and stronger than me so my next instinct was to fight. The memory here is lost, and I can only piece together what happened through my injuries and visiting the scene the next day. What I do know is that I was pinned down but managed to somehow get him off me. That I was able to break free and run away.
Again, I think this is because I had built up something internally that I’d been working on for years – that I stand up for what I believe in. This internal strength has sometimes proved annoying to others in my life, especially when it comes to hierarchy because I question any lack of integrity that I see. I do this because I believe that we should be questioning each other’s motives to make sure that we are acting out of self and not out of ego. This strength within me manifested as a fight that night, and there was no way in hell that I was going to go out without a fight, if not just for me then for every person who has suffered the sexual injustice to the hand of a another.
- Luck, faith and something higher than myself
I’ve always believed in something higher than myself, but I have always been strongly opposed to religion – can you blame me when it’s become so corrupt in the world? I mean, I stand for integrity yet I struggle to see it in religion these days.
I’ve always taken note of those synchronicities in life when it feels like someone else if pulling the strings and I’ve always prayed thanks for the gifts I’ve received – love, friendship, compassion and joy. I do this on a personal level, and I feel a non-judgemental type of spirituality that doesn’t subscribe to one ‘God’ or one deity. I just believe that there is something bigger out there at play, and I pay respects to it as and when it feels right. I (jokingly) call it Shereenism but I think that this is what true religion is – something private that stems from integrity and values, something that feels right and connected, and is individual for each of us.
The night I got attacked there were a few weird things that happened that strengthened my faith in some kind of guidance system. And you can take this or leave it, but this is my truth and all outside opinions are void of it.
When the man had walked past me, I heard a voice that said ‘Turn Around’, which I did. Had I not then the turn of events would have happened drastically different.
I felt as though I had assistance when I came to protecting myself. There is no way that a small figure like me could have fought off such a huge man, call it adrenalin but I physically felt like I was being aided.
When it came to someone finally offering refuge and opening their front door towards me for somewhere to run, it was a universal symbol of safety – the silhouette of a woman holding a new born baby. I’ll never forgot this image which has been seared into my brain. Apart from the fact that it seems so weird when I look back, I can’t begin to imagine what the woman herself must have been thinking. What compelled her to open the door when she heard my screams, because no one else in that neighbourhood even dared.
I’m not saying that by adopting these methods that you’ll become infallible to life or death scenarios that might get thrown at you. What I am saying though is that when you truly know yourself inside and out, and you stand strong for what you believe in that you live life a certain way. You live life consciously, and with courage, and that courage brings you freedom.
The irony in all of this is that these traumatic experiences took me back down to base level where I questioned myself completely. Through my journey of recovery I had to build myself up again, one block at a time. I had to carve out my new value system consciously so I could get back to this level of courage and internal freedom. This journey in itself is what has put me back on the right path – one that helps people and inspires people to find their own sense of internal freedom too.
The truth is that in learning why I didn’t die, it taught me how we should live.
I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.
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With love, life and freedom, Shereen x
Photo by my dear friend James Duncan, of me, sitting by a tree.