By Chris Jaffray
A rape victim who spent seven years living on the streets is now a successful life coach with dozens of clients – after a round the world trip changed her life.
Like Hollywood film Eat, Pray, Love, Sian Young credits a six-month holiday through Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia with turning her life around after she was homeless and destitute for seven years after being raped aged 15.
The 44-year-old single mum-of-one, who is originally from Hong Kong but grew up in Rosyth, Scotland, came back from the holiday and set up a pole dancing business in her front room, racking up thousands of clients before become a full-time life coach in early 2015.
Now Sian jets all over the world teaching women about how to balance their career and their health and was even recently nominated for a prestigious women in business award.
Sian, who now lives in Littlehampton, Sussex, said: “It’s hard to describe what life was like on the streets.
“I was freezing, hungry and treated less than human by passers-by.
“I was abused, scared and had to fight grown men to survive – it was hell.
“But eventually, I thought ‘I’m not dead yet, so maybe I should learn to live’.
“My career has actually really been helped by the fact I was a street girl – young girls who aren’t wise get swallowed up.
“I came from sleeping on the streets and most people who have been through the things I’ve been through are either dead or in mental institutions.
“But the fact I am alive and have lived to do all the things I’ve done means I’m meant to be on this planet.”
Sian was raped aged 15 before the mental strain of this meant she got involved with the wrong people, leaving her family home before finding herself in a hostel.
She attended school from the hostel while she was her own guardian but began writing herself sick notes and eventually became homeless.
Sian was eventually discovered by a former family friend living on the streets and vomiting blood 10 times a day due to irritable bowel syndrome caused by years of starvation.
The friend – the son of her former headmistress – gave her a fold out bed in his kitchen and she attempted to get her life back on track – but became bedridden for two years due to the severity of her condition.
But after having son Jordan, now aged 20, she decided her life really needed to change and embarked on a six-month trip through Asia and Australia with her newborn son.
Sian said: “I felt that travelling unwound my mind, I hit the ground running.
“All those long, long drives allowed me to process what had happened to me.”
After finishing her trip, she returned to the UK desperate to launch a business and set up a pole dancing studio in her tiny two-bedroom flat in a high rise tower block in Seaton, Aberdeen.
Starting with just six clients, Sian eventually moved to a studio and taught more than 5,000 clients, employing six instructors.
She said: “I had no skills, but I was so determined to lift my life up and knew I could pole dance.
“I thought if I used what I had I couldn’t go wrong, so I built a pole school.
“I was trying to sell pole dancing classes from the first home I had ever had – a flat in a high rise in a council estate which had one pole in the living room.”
Since closing her pole dancing business in 2014 after seven years, Sian started working as a health advisor after taking courses in nutrition and meditation and health coaching.
She now makes a living working with female leaders who are building businesses but realise their personal life and health are suffering.
Sian has also began working with homeless charity Turning Tides to create a five point plan to help those who have come off the streets recover, and so far has trained 23 volunteers to assist with this.
The mum said: “I want to help people realise you can’t think straight if you are vulnerable, stressed or ill – without your health you are nothing.
“I have seen middle class people go through a string of unfortunate events and find themselves homeless.
“I am really big on sustainability – if people can’t take care of themselves, how are they going to take care of the planet.
“If you are upset and do not love yourself what hope do you have, I know what it is like to be at the bottom end of not loving yourself.
“Because I survived I know there is a reason for me being here and that is to help people take care of themselves.”