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Mother of two, 36, reveals how she attempted suicide with ‘food suicide’

A mother of two who says she was gang-raped by four men has revealed how she lost the 17th in a year.

Personal trainer and nutritionist Andreina De Sousa, from Twickenham in west London, weighed 27kg after she said she used food ‘as a form of suicide’ after the attack.

But the 36-year-old has now lost 17 stones in just over a year and has gone from a UK dress size of 26 to a slim size eight.

Ms De Sousa did not struggle with her weight growing up and it was not until 2014 that a traumatic event occurred in Southall, West London, that she lost control of her eating habits.

Andreina De Sousa has lost 17 stones in just over a year and has gone from a UK dress size 26 to a slim size 8.  The photo on the left is from October 2021 and the photo on the right is from June 25, 2022

Andreina De Sousa has lost 17 stones in just over a year and has gone from a UK dress size 26 to a slim size 8. The photo on the left is from October 2021 and the photo on the right is from June 25, 2022

“I wasn’t always fat, I was curvy and a Zumba instructor and also taught Pilates. I was fit and healthy’, says Ms De Sousa.

“But after the rape, I turned to food for emotional support because at the same time I was raped, I became homeless and my children were taken from me.

“I didn’t have time to sit there and think about my emotions because everything happened at once, and blocking things made me feel cold, I became a version of myself that I never want to go back.

“I turned to food for support because I could mask it as a form of suicide. The more I ate, the fatter I got, the more I didn’t recognize the woman staring at me in the mirror.

“I was happy with that, because I always thought I was raped because of my appearance, I thought it was my fault. Fast food was my Kryptonite, takeaways mostly fried or Chinese, the smell of Indian food still triggers me to this day so I stay away from it as the rape was done by Punjabi men.”

Ms De Sousa – who says her attackers were never brought to justice – reached a dangerous rock and doctors told her that if she continued this lifestyle, she would not be there to watch her two children grow up.

She knew her eating habits were spiraling out of control, and since she had never been overweight before, she felt she needed some help losing weight.

She opted for a stomach sleeve to help her control her binge eating.

Ms De Sousa did not struggle with her weight growing up and only when a traumatic event occurred in Southall, West London, did she lose control of her eating habits

Ms De Sousa did not struggle with her weight growing up and only when a traumatic event occurred in Southall, West London, did she lose control of her eating habits

Mrs De Sousa for her weight loss

Mrs De Sousa for her weight loss

Ms De Sousa did not struggle with her weight growing up and it was only when a traumatic event occurred in Southall, West London that she lost control of her eating habits (Photo: Ms De Sousa before (right) and after (left) her weight loss. Pictured: November 2021 (left) and April 2022 (right)

Mrs. De Sousa had to travel alone to the Czech Republic and she had quite severe reactions to the medicines they gave her.

She was also separated from her support network of family and friends for 16 days during one of the most difficult times of her life.

Born and raised in Venezuela, Ms De Sousa moved to the United Kingdom in 1996 with her mother, father and four siblings.

She now has two children of her own, including a daughter, Jessica, who was born in Venezuela in 2007. When Mrs. De Sousa told him she was pregnant, he left her.

She also has a son, Alex, born in the UK in 2010 with another man. Alex sees his father regularly, but Mrs. De Souza and Alex’s father are no longer together.

“It’s all been settled by the court and although he put me through hell, I would never stop him from raising his son,” said Ms. De Sousa.

“The problems were between me and him, not between me, him and our son. He plays a big part in Alex’s life and I’m happy about that, I would never stop him from seeing Alex.’

Ms. De Sousa was able to try to move on with her life and was eventually able to start a new relationship six years after she was raped.

“A few years later I got into a serious relationship, and he was the man who helped break out of the darkness I lived in,” she said.

“We’re not together anymore because through the years we were together he cheated, which made me lose so much confidence in myself.

“But I got over it. I fought every day for myself, my health and my children – I focused on myself.

On July 13, 2021, Ms. De Souza underwent gastric surgery at the Ivy Clinic in Brno, Czech Republic

On July 13, 2021, Ms. De Souza underwent gastric surgery at the Ivy Clinic in Brno, Czech Republic

On July 13, 2021, Ms. De Souza underwent gastric surgery at the Ivy Clinic in Brno, Czech Republic

‘Now I don’t let trauma and fear control all my movements, I strive from my past. I see success from my trauma experience. I am a better person today.

“This is all due in large part to my sister Linda, she is my rock, my teacher, my inspiration, my emotional support every step of the way in my life. It’s almost hard to believe she’s my little sister because I look up to her every day. inspires me to be a better version of myself.

On July 13, 2021, Ms. De Souza underwent gastric surgery at the Ivy Clinic in Brno, Czech Republic. The procedure, including flights and accommodation, cost her £7,000.

‘On the day of the operation, I let the fear take over. Worst case scenario I thought I would never wake up or go into a coma and never see my kids or family again or my heart would stop.. The fact that I was alone abroad made it even worse.

“We were still in the middle of a pandemic, so I had to go away for 16 days because the quarantine was ten days.

“When I had all my pre-operative checkups, I knew things were starting to get real and slowly that version of me that was being raped started creeping back into my head. I started to think, no, I can’t do this.

“But with every power in my being, I pushed those thoughts out and replaced them with my children.

‘I wanted to live longer for them. I wanted to be able to do so many activities with them that I could never do as a bigger person. I could walk with them and play with them.

“Once I had the surgery and regained consciousness, the pain was out of this world. I had the worst reaction to omeprazole and DVT injections and the only thing on my mind was why I was doing this? I’m going to fail at it like I have everything else.

“This weightless journey has not only been for my body, but also for my mind, the clarity I have gained, the mental peace and stability is a breath of fresh air.

“I’ve learned that I’m a go-getter, I’m a badass that if I set my mind to something, I can do it.”

Asked about her advice for other women looking to lose weight, Ms. De Sousa said, “Focus on yourself, one small achievement at a time.

“The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on the old, but on building the new you.

“Have the discipline to do what you know you have to do, even when you don’t feel like it.

“The important thing is that it’s not about perfection, it’s about effort and when you make that effort every day, that’s where transformation takes place.”

For confidential support, call the Samaritans at 116123 or visit a local Samaritans office, see www.samaritans.org for details.

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