I am Cheryl Sharp

...and this is my 'unkept' secret as a survivor.
Starting a business

Long story short, I'm here to tell my tale...

Firstly, I’m so glad you’re here! It takes a lot of courage to explore the possibility of walking away from what you know as familiar.

I hope this is your first step to living the life you dream of, the path to finding freedom, and the opportunity you need to achieve your goals.

I am a DA Survivor, now happily married with a beautiful blended family.

For years I didn’t think I was good enough (maybe a feeling you know too well). I never thought that people like me could be happy, loved, and able to achieve anything. But I here to let you in on a secret… we most certainly can.

My story of finding freedom and happiness

A window of hope

For years I had been mentally and physically abused by the person who was meant to love me. Yet, in August 2011 I finally saw some light. My abusive (now ex) husband had left thinking I would be begging to take him back, but that plan backfired. I could see a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could be free of him and I decided then and there that this wasn’t going to be my life anymore. It took every ounce of strength I had, to escape with my boys while I still could.

As time went on it took a while for things to settle, and after many battles, I finally moved into my own house in October 2012 with my boys to start a new life.

Although I had a ‘new’ life it was still controlled to a degree by my abuser! It was like a whole new level of mental abuse – I was somewhat of free, but not entirely! The physical abuse had stopped, but he still had control over me, and I was still scared of what he would do to me.

A future in my own hands

I thought I’d hit rock bottom, that I’d never be free, that I’d never be enough. But I wasn’t quite there yet!

In April 2013 I started my ACCA journey. I had completed my AAT qualification back in 2006 – taking my last exams whilst pregnant with my eldest. And I thought now was the time to take that next step to becoming a Chartered Accountant. I couldn’t afford tuition fees, so I simply bought the book for the first exam and cracked on!

I self studied in this way for the whole of my course! I remember him saying at the time that I’d never qualify – I sure showed him! And did it all by myself!

Now I’m a fellow member of the ACCA – It was such a proud moment for me.

from 9-5 to designing my own life

I had tried working in an accountancy practice, but it just wasn’t working – I couldn’t work enough to earn what I needed to, the only childcare I had was a child-minder who I couldn’t really afford and I couldn’t rely on him having the boys as he would often let me down, refuse to have them and so on.

So, in January 2014 I started my own accountancy business. I decided to go it alone, set my own schedule around the boys, and earn enough money to cover the bills so I wasn’t reliant on anyone in all aspects of my life!

I believed I was totally crazy – who was I to think I could actually do all this and become successful? I had no confidence or self-belief, I had no idea where to start, the thought of networking totally petrified me – but on I went, on this crazy journey of becoming an entrepreneur.

So a business owner I became and my journey to becoming the woman I am today was on her way to reaching her dreams.

A change in the tide

There’s been twists and turns along the way, lots of learnings, and many many tears. I have lost count of the times I’ve thought about giving up (spoiler alert – this is something all business owners think about at times! It’s perfectly normal) but I usually have my moment, get it all out, put on my big girl pants and face another challenge head on and continue.

August 2017 was the turning point. I met James, my now husband. You know that Prince in fairy tales – the ones who always rode in and saved the day? Well I guess you could say James is mine. He helped me to see that I was enough, that I could do this – and I was actually pretty good at it! He showed me what was possible, and I began to dream again.

Life turned around, I was loved, I was happy, I was gaining some confidence and self belief. Maybe I could actually have a life I thought was only in the movies!

Bittersweet at it's finest

As my confidence grew, the business grew. And it soon became clear that I was building something special, which had the potential to give us the life we both dreamed of. But James’ job was getting in the way. So we set my first major goal – to replace his salary so he could leave – meaning he could take the lion share of the childcare and I could focus on growing the business. It took me 3 months to achieve this goal! And less that 6 months later we were walking down the aisle in Cyprus getting married.

As happy as I was, I still wasn’t completely free.

My abuser still had a hold over me and tried to control me – but now it wasn’t just me – he was controlling my husband and my whole family! And my anxiety was through the roof thinking what would he do next to hurt me – mentally.

A knockback

Things came to a head in August 2020 – slap bang in the middle of a global pandemic! Solicitors and the police had to get involved, and this was when I really did hit rock bottom. I couldn’t see me ever being truly free. I’d asked the police and my solicitor for help – but now was the time to ask some other people for help – a counselor was the next step. I’d finally admitted what I didn’t want to see and had it confirmed I was suffering with depression and anxiety.

And so I started my journey of healing my mind. I was seeing my counselor, and also started working with my coach Shelley on my mindset, and many other things. I have stopped seeing my counselor, but I still see Shelley every two weeks – I need my regular Shelley dose!

I finally found my 'happy'

Here I am two years later, happy, confident, and no longer have any contact with my abuser. Don’t get me wrong – as I said before, life still isn’t perfect – but I’m in a great place. Yes I still have moments of anxiety – when my email pings I dread looking in case it’s the solicitor for example!

I’m excited about the future and seeing what life brings. I am achieving things I never even dreamed were possible. I surprise myself every day with what I am capable of, pushing myself further. In many ways I feel that life has only just begun.

How i deal with imposter syndrome

Where am I headed now?

Being totally honest, I’m not sure yet where this path will take me. I shared a dream with my coach Shelley about wanting to help other survivors to set up their own businesses and build the life they dreamed of. I had a vision of some kind of foundation where I could make all the things possible – if only I could win the lottery to fund it! And you know what she said – “You don’t have to do it all now, and you don’t have to win the lottery! What could you do to get started on this dream?”

So here I am! I am currently writing a book about my story, I have a podcast in the works, and I have many ideas of things to help survivors – I just need to work out the how part! But this is my first step – putting this platform together to show what is possible, to help and guide you, and support you along the way.

Thank you so much for reading this far. I hope you have found some solace in my own story and just know, you’re not alone and help is out there.

Cheryl x

6 top tips for getting started with your new business

Starting a new business is scary and challenging at the best of times, but even more so when you add in the challenges of being a DA survivor!

But it is definitely doable, and so worth it. Giving you back your independence, in many ways. Download my 6 top tips to help you get going.