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'There is life after trauma'

DETERMINED: Yvonne Sinclair was able to channel her pain and anger with the help of others – and God

THE ISSUE of sexual abuse is not one black Christian women often talk about, but one woman who’s decided to speak openly of her experience is Yvonne Sinclair.

Now aged 48, Yvonne, who runs a choir as well as a business, and works as a behaviour management consultant states she was sexually abused by a relative when she was 11, three days after the death of her mother, and has written about her experience in a book entitled To Report or Not to Report: Survivor Testimony of the (In)Justice System edited by Emily Jacob.

Yvonne is one of several contributors who chronicle their experiences with rape and/ or abuse, and their decision whether to report it or not. She said: “The thing that made me write is the fact that a lot of black women don’t write or speak about what’s happened or if they do, it’s in a small group. I felt it was time for me to speak out.”

The abuse Yvonne experience started three days after the death of her mother. Her perpetrator was in his late teens. She recalled: “He told me that
it was my secret, that I was very special, but I was to tell no one.

“Back then I didn’t really understand the full extent of what was happening. We didn’t have sex education in those days and my mother hadn’t spoken to me about sex or anything. I hadn’t even had my periods when my mum died.”

Thankfully for Yvonne, the abuse ended when her family moved home 18 months after her mother’s death. She added: “It stopped, for which I was grateful, but I became very angry as I got older and it showed in my behaviour. I fought a lot at school and ran away from home at 15 and never went back.”

In fact, following a trip to the Caribbean, Yvonne discovered church elders had noted a behaviourial change and weren’t too sure of the reason.

“I went to see a church mother a few years ago in the Caribbean and she said she remembered me as a little girl being so caught up in God, and that all of a sudden I had changed.

“They couldn’t understand why I was so angry and the only thing they could put it down to was the fact that I lost my mum.

“Now they understand the real reason.”

It was while serving as a safeguarding officer at her former church that Yvonne got the courage to talk for the first time about her abuse.

“A lady made a disclosure to me about her marriage. When I got home the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, ‘You’re helping all these people, when are you going to help yourself? When are you going to look at your own life and make a change?’

“That’s when the conviction to tell someone set in.”

Yvonne told a safeguarding officer and made the decision to tell the police of the abuse. The case went to court in 2015, but the abuser was found not guilty. It was a sad time for her.

“The day I got the verdict I had to fl y out to Italy to minister. I was absolutely devastated. It took a long time to work through the pain of that, and
ask God why.

“I got angry with God and the church because they didn’t support me. I was vexed. I had to take stock and go back to God and say what was this about.”

Over time, however, Yvonne, who runs a choir, has come to terms with the verdict, and sees it as part of God’s plan for her life.

“If I had got the verdict I wanted, there would be no other reason for me to speak, there would be no reason for me to help, encourage or mentor young people or do any of the work that I’m doing because I would have been happy with the verdict and just got on with my life.”

Aside from running her company Inspired2InspireU, a personal development and training company which works with young girls and women, Yvonne does volunteer work with Christian charity, Transformation Powerhouse which supports individuals who have suffered sexual abuse and trauma. And she has these words of hope to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual trauma.

“Rape does not define you. My experiences have taught me not to give away your power. That’s what anger does. That’s what unforgiveness does.

“I have had to learn to forgive myself and the perpetrator and offer hope to those people who talk to me. There is life after trauma.”

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