Yvonne Ellis is an author, speaker and the founder of Daughter Arise, a charity that supports survivors of sexual abuse. Her memoir of the same name chronicles Yvonne’s own experience of abuse and journey to recovery. Here, she talks about the power of speaking out, being a surprising introvert and the joy of good coffee.
How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?
I am drawing on my own experience, and my experience of supporting survivors over the last six years, as well as watching TED talks.
How did you come up with the idea for your talk?
The idea has come from my own journey – the struggles I had with finding my voice in the wake of the abuse I suffered, and the struggles of other survivors trying to break the silence about what happened to them. I wanted to do a talk that addressed some of the issues but that also allows the audience to understand what the prison of silence is like and how as a society we can help someone to break free.
Why is sexual abuse still such a taboo and, crucially, under-funded, issue?
Socially, I believe there is a reluctance to accept that it happens to the most vulnerable people and is committed by the most unlikely of people.
In terms of funding, the issue is at government level. There are many organisations doing great work to educate the public on the effects of sexual abuse, but at governmental level there is a lack of understanding of the scale and how sexual abuse impacts the survivors.
Other areas, like unemployment, get a lot of funding because [the results] are visually measurable; the impact of sexual abuse probably is not as visible. I think more funding should be open to the organisations that are on the ground doing the work and the government could help by investing in centres that provide specialised counselling.
You are very open about your own experience. How important is it for survivors of sexual abuse to speak out?
It is incredibly important that survivors speak out – finding your voice is the first step to personal healing. I know it is not easy but by being open and honest about how my experience affected me, I hope survivors can find courage and hope.
Who or what inspires you?
Courageous people who are willing to take risks in order to achieve extraordinary things.
Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?
I am an introvert. Some may find it hard to believe with all I do!
How do you spend your down time?
I like reading books of interest, listening to empowering talks that promote self-development, spending time with my family and exercising.
What one thing would you like to know before you die?
I’m not sure there is one thing I would want to know; I am just happy to let life unfold as it is and see what it brings.
What is your favourite TED or TEDx talk?
Loving self, loving family, relaxing and drinking nice coffee and eating cake with my hubby in a lovely coffee shop!
Interview by Rosy Edwards