Olivia Johnson: triumph over adversity

Meet Olivia Johnson, owner and founder of Olive Solutions Consultancy. Her journey is a testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit and she shares some insights into staying resilient in the face of personal challenges. Drawing on her own experiences, she’s a major advocate for the fight against domestic violence and supporter of mental wellbeing.

I was born in Ghana and moved to Australia at the age of five with my family. It was so different from anything I’d experienced! We first lived in Newman, a small mining town in Western Australia. I enjoyed the kind of carefree childhood that is increasingly rare today. The neighbourhood was small and everybody knew each other. The kids would just go out on the street and play safely – it was just a very calm kind of country life.

Transitioning to Sydney a few years later was a shock. I was in primary school so still in those defining moments where you’re getting to know who you are. I was an active child and on the shy and quiet side, but with my friends I was loud and outgoing.

The family then moved to Brisbane where I completed my high school education and a first degree at QUT, starting out in the education field. Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in Melbourne, pursuing a master’s degree in business management, focussing on human resources and industrial relations. Armed with newfound knowledge and determination, I returned to Brisbane, closer to family.

I was married for seven years. I’m now divorced, emerging from a relationship marked by emotional, psychological, verbal, and financial abuse. For much of that time, I didn’t even recognise the torment I was enduring. The pieces began to fall into place when I was doing research for a workplace investigation. I suddenly saw the parallels with my own situation. Recognising the signs of gaslighting, manipulation, and control was a revelation, a moment of clarity.

There’d been all these little behaviours that I couldn’t put a name to, and suddenly, it had a definition. I called 1800 RESPECT and told them about some of the experiences I’d faced in my marriage and they were like, “This is emotional and psychological abuse”. I guess that was the defining moment that empowered me to reclaim my life.

Rebuilding my identity, mental health, and rediscovering my purpose became the cornerstone of my healing. The process was difficult, requiring an inner strength I didn’t know I possessed. I learned that empowerment is not a static state but a continuous journey; one that demands constant self-reflection, boundary-setting, and an unwavering belief in oneself.

My surrounding community’s response was not what I expected! There were some people who stood by me and some who disappeared. It helped me to really understand who was really there for me and who wasn’t. There was a lot of cutting ties and letting people go so I could look forward to the future.

In many communities, mental health often takes a back seat to physical well-being. The call to “stay strong” can be more of a burden than a blessing, placing an undue weight on individuals already struggling. Instead, I advocate for meaningful actions, small gestures that speak volumes of support, and a willingness to listen without judgement. 

Coming from a situation where I was literally finding out who I was again to this point where I’m standing on my own two feet was a journey of necessity. When you’re pushed to the limit, you do what you have to do to survive.

Working nine to five was not going to work for me. I have a daughter who is autistic so I needed a certain amount of flexibility to meet her needs and care for the rest of my family. This focus on family sparked the idea to set up for myself. I spoke about it and before I knew it an opportunity came up! I said “Oh I better jump on this – it’s now or never”.

So, within a week I quickly registered for an ABN and set everything up. I decided to take the leap of faith and see where it lands and here I am today still doing that and seeing where it takes me.

Today, as I look to the future, I know that storms are temporary. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a mere illusion, but a promise of better days. Through each small action, I inch closer to my goals, fueled by a desire for a brighter future for myself and my family.

To those facing similar trials, I offer this: every journey to healing is unique. Seek out the path that resonates with you, whether it’s through counselling, writing, or the support of loved ones. Remember, the first step is acknowledging that you deserve better.

In sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to find their own sources of strength, to recognise the power within, and to never underestimate the capacity for transformation. Life’s challenges do not define us; our response to them does. Together, we can rewrite our narratives, turning adversity into triumph, and emerge as empowered voices, amplified.

Olive Consulting Solutions is an exclusive HR and business management consultancy firm that also offers public relations and events/project management services. They work with not-for-profits, private companies and start-ups, providing a sense of peace for your business.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/olive-solutions-consultancy
Contact: +61 410 378 409
Olivia’s story is part of our podcast series “Empowered Voices Amplified”. To hear her story in full, go to: https://tinyurl.com/OliviaAJohnson

1800RESPECT is available for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support people impacted by domestic, family or sexual violence.


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