I’m Andrew Gray and I founded Truth Legal seven years ago. Starting my own law firm was challenging but hugely rewarding, however, the motivation for me doing so was quite unique and very personal.

I was assaulted near Manchester Piccadilly station 13 years ago, on the evening of my first day as a trainee solicitor. This was a profoundly difficult situation for me to deal with and caused me years of subsequent anxiety, for which I sought professional help. Whilst I continued my law training and subsequently qualified successfully, in the background I kept my mental health problems a secret from my loved ones and battled them alone.

Andrew Gray Although I was born and raised in Manchester, I eventually realised I had to leave. This was central to my eventual recovery and how I find myself in the position I am now, not only with the strength to tell my story and explain to my loved ones how I have fought this battle and why I didn’t tell them, but also with an establishment of my own successful law firm.

Whilst living in Harrogate I started working for a national law firm specialising in assault at work claims, and helping various people from different walks of life who had been through the same trauma as me was a real help. It not only benefited my recovery, but it strengthened my resolve to turn the experience into a positive one. This was the motivation for starting ‘Truth Legal’ and eventually why I have decided to tell the full story of my assault.

I recently published an article for the website ‘Medium’ entitled ‘I’m a Lawyer and I’m (Sort Of) Glad That I Was Assaulted’. The article was difficult for me to write, and took me 18 months to press “send”, but I felt I had to convey the drama of what happened and accurately portray how harrowing it was for me:

“I still don’t know how I did it, but — somehow — I managed to wrestle my attacker off me. In the process, I lost my shoes, wallet, phone, keys and chain. Barefoot, I ran as fast as I could, screaming, “Help! Call the police!” Unfortunately, the streets of Manchester at 11pm on a Monday night are pretty empty.”

My experience is similar to so many others and I think what connected people to the article was how it affected me in everyday life afterwards:

“For the next two years, I lived in the city centre, just five minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Station. Gradually, I began to feel awfully claustrophobic. Inside my flat or at work, I was fine. Outside, however, on the streets, I was anxious. I felt suffocated. Scared — of nothing in particular — all the time.”

Eventually, I realised I needed some professional help, and while every individual is different I would strongly recommend that if you have had a similar experience and are still feeling the repercussions, you should seek some help and not suffer alone. I began to understand what my mental problems were and I found a way to overcome them:

“I distinctly remember the Consultant saying to me that, even if he opened his second-floor window as wide as he could, he knew I wouldn’t throw myself out of it. He was right. I never would. I guess that I was just seeing danger everywhere.”

Of course, this was not a nice experience for me, but I have managed to turn it around. Writing the article was a purely therapeutic exercise, but it has turned into an enormously positive one in terms of how people have reacted. The article has gone viral with over 30,000 views and nearly 100 comments from people I’ve never met, who say the article has helped them come to conclusions over similar experiences and has inspired them to seek professional help in the way I did.

I feel now, similar to how I felt when I first started helping people deal with assault at work claims. Those clients were enormously brave in coming to talk to me, as that is something I never did until I sought professional help, and so the reaction to the article has left me similarly enthused.

Back then, talking to people with similar experiences to mine motivated me to start my own legal firm. Now, people reacting positively to my story is motivating me to help others in a different way. So quite simply, if you are unfortunate enough to have been through the trauma of an unprovoked assault, consider sharing your experience, unload your mind and seek professional and legal help, because this is the best way to turn a negative into a positive.

And if you haven’t read the full story of my assault and how it eventually helped me, you can read it here.

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Catherine Reynolds
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