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I Survived: A True Story

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  864 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A chilling, eye-opening story of marriage and attempted murder, revealing the truth about a case that made headlines around the world.

On Easter Sunday 2015, experienced skydiver Victoria Cilliers undertook a parachute jump, a gift from her husband, British army sergeant Emile Cilliers. Her parachutes failed to open and she plummeted 4,000 feet to the ground, sustaining lif
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 6th 2020 by Pan
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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  864 ratings  ·  65 reviews


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Mrs Olga A Danes-Volkov
A strange book

That it is strange is unsurprising given that the very point of it is that the author was unable to see what a vile, manipulative man her husband was. It is a lesson for other abused wives.

Perhaps inevitably not one of the best written books I’ve read and the temptation to shout “Oh, for goodness sake” every time she made excuses for her husband, was almost overwhelming it comes across as a very truthful book.

I feel bad for giving it only three stars but that is only my judgement.



Aisha Hussain
3.5 stars. Good story but hard to connect with the author as I just cannot fathom how she can lend him money time and time again without kicking up a fuss or investigate properly why he’s stealing off her. She seems too weak and even though she had a great support system (father and brother), she never uses them! It’s difficult to understand how she can’t see that he’s manipulating her and using her for money....when he has crossed the line so much, why does she feel she needs him?? He doesn’t p ...more
Nicole
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredibly raw and heartbreaking true crime book about how Victoria survived being killed by her husband.

If you are looking for a new true crime book to read, I highly recommend this one. What makes this book stand out is that it's actually told from the victims perspective.

I could not comprehend what Victoria went through. The emotional abuse she received was absolutely unthinkable. It made for quite a challenging read especially as you know how their relationship ended.

I think Vict
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Claire Smith
Having already read/listened to this story from various viewpoints (eg the investigating police officers), I was disappointed to find upon reading the victim’s own telling that her version is disingenuous. She fails to tell the reader that during the giving of contradictory evidence in the first trial she was declared a hostile witness, and had her evidence scratched much to dismay of the investigating police officers who’d spent years putting together a strong case.

She is clearly a woman who ha
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Norma Curtis
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Survived is a courageous first-person account of what must be every woman's worst nightmare; becoming involved with a man whose love, charm and plausibilty hide a manipulative and dangerous side. It is a sign of the author's own sense of self-worth that it is initially hard for her to believe the worst of her husband, despite the evidence. I found this to be an inspiring, sensitive story about what happened to her, her eventual acceptance, and how she came through it ...more
Xanthi
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on audiobook format.
This is a difficult book to rate and comment on, as domestic abuse and manipulation is at the heart of it and blaming victim is not good. But it’s very hard to read this and not feel frustrated at all the bad decisions and sheer scale of the authors denial right up to and including the trial.
At the end of the book, she does admit her bad decisions and her disbelief and denial. But she also takes on a very very defensive stance.
I certainly felt conflicted,
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Elisabeth
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of the author who has had the worst luck with men. Infidelity and controlling relationships where she can't seem to realise the danger she is in.
A crazy story overall, making it ever more impressive how far she has come in order to be there for her children. Making you wonder how can you improve the situation of other women to be more open about their relationship issues which may in fact be abusive, and how to escape them.
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Kerry
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I shouldn’t say I enjoyed the book as this was a true story but it was fascinating. I still can’t work out though why she didn’t kick her husband into touch long before he tried to kill her ...
Sarah
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect to give this book five stars but it was an absolute page turner and I feel like Victoria poured every ounce of emotion into this book so that every bit of pain she went through hit me right in the gut.

As a mother and a wife, I can't imagine the unbearable physical and emotional pain she went through. I hope she has a happy life from now on.
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Mary Ryan
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible story. I really enjoyed the book - not because the writing style is clever or refined (it's not bad though), but because the story is captivating. Victoria, the author, is a courageous woman who finds herself gradually in an unbearable and incredibly dangerous situation. This paints such an vivid picture of how domestic abuse can occur so gradually, over time, almost imperceptibly. And how, so often, the abusers can effectively convince their partners that they are to blame. I ...more
Sarah
Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
A good insight into a coercive and violent relationship, slow to build but good at its climax.
Tony Davis
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extreme example of Resilience!

I came across this despicable man in the Army - The pain & psychological trauma this poor lady went through one can only imagine what it actually feels like! To actually think about, let alone try to carryout the actions of killing your Wife & Kids says no sentence is long enough! A truly gripping read!
Aimee
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook.

It was fantastic. I found myself understanding everything Vicky went through, having been through domestic abuse myself. Upon reading the reviews below - comments like "why did she not leave, why is she ALWAYS making excuses for him" - until you have been in a situation with the amount of controlling behaviour, you won't understand. It becomes second nature to lie and make excuses for your partner.
What this man did yo Victoria and her children, April and Ben is sick
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Anna Maria
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a very good story written from the ex wife's perspective. Why do keyboard trolls think it's acceptable to be abusive to victims who are already traumatised from what has happened. I really admired Victoria for her strength. I did not like Emile, imagine your having a difficult labour with his 2nd child, and he is lazing in a hospital armchair texting to his mistress about her 'moaning'.
Of course Victoria was not aware of what he was doing at that time, or at other times. All
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Tatterededges
Mar 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an intriguing story and I found that I couldn’t put it down. The author’s experience was truly horrendous and her husband clearly a despicable POS.

Despite knowing that abusive people destroy the confidence and self-worth of their victims to the point that they don’t feel they would survive without them, I felt frustrated repeatedly as the author acknowledged Emile’s lies but didn’t challenge him, especially when his lies where completely nonsensical.

Her ongoing insistence that she nee
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Lainy
Mar 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 288

Publisher - Pan

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

A chilling, eye-opening story of marriage and attempted murder, revealing the truth about a case that made headlines around the world.

On Easter Sunday 2015, experienced skydiver Victoria Cilliers undertook a parachute jump, a gift from her husband, British army sergeant Emile Cilliers. Her parachutes failed to open and she plummeted 4,000 feet to the ground, sustaining life-threatening injuries. Miraculously
...more
Charlotte
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well done to Victoria Cilliers for taking control of the situation and writing her story in her words. For the people who have said in their reviews 'why didn't she just leave him?' I guess you are fortunate enough to not have experienced coercive control. Over time, coercive controlling behaviour chips away at the victim’s sense of self, their confidence and self-esteem. Often, the victim isn't even aware they are being controlled.
What a remarkable women, raising two children single-hande
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Cleopatra  Pullen
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The majority of Victoria Cilliers book provides the reader of a peak behind the front door into what life was like living with her husband Emilie before he took murderous steps to end her life.

Like many others I couldn't' understand why this lady appeared to defend this man when he was on trial for not only her attempted murder, but those of her children also. I understand a little better now.

What I did find interesting is the author's description of how she felt while effectively in limbo while
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Jenny Bean
I found this book to be a page turner and basically read the whole thing in one day. But one thing I will never understand is how any educated, capable woman with a career and a fantastic support network and everything going for her can get in this position in the first place. I mean seriously!! If you suspect your husband is cheating and you KNOW he is syphoning your bank account and he treats you like rubbish, why on EARTH would you even consider having another child with him?? I found the who ...more
Stacey Hammond
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are all survivors of something!

The insomnia overtook me last night & I'm still not tired, so read another book it was. This was only 187 pages, so it was a nice quick read. I have seen a lot of people asking why she stayed with him & why she didn't see what he was doing...she did! But that's the thing with narcissists & gaslighters, they prey on the vulnerable & eventually the victim thinks she's the one at fault. I'd previously followed this story in the news, but to read about the coercive
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Lesley Russell
I found this book hard to review. On the one hard I enjoyed reading it- it kept my interest and I raced through it eager to reach the point where she finally admitted to herself what a thoroughly unpleasant selfish manipulative individuual her husband actually was. The writing was good but not great
and the character herself was a strange mixture of brave and clever in some respects and weak and dependent in others
However what she went through would test anyone to their limits so I do hope she d
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Sarah
I am finding this quite difficult to review. I read it to better understand who she was and her experience of such a vicious attack. And it suceeded in this. However I quickly came to despise her and became frustrated with the number of red flags she ignored then couldn't understand why she ended up in the situation she did. In particular I have found it frustrating that several individuals have promoted this book to me as an exemplary tale of courage. Whilst the story did have moments of courag ...more
Christine Perlini
Must read!

I read the whole book in the same day; I couldn't stop reading it!
Its very educational for people who want to learn about domestic abuse, help if your going through a similar situation and shows you how hard it is to break a trauma bond/ manipulation even after theres no longer contact with abuser.
Victoria is inspirational and a very strong woman that never gave up even when she easily could of. I wish her all the best.
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Naomi Sirmans
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It read like a fiction book - the same attachment to the characters and plot.. but the fact that is a biography and a true story only heightened the reading experience. This woman has obviously been through hell, but she highlighted the positives throughout the entire book. I am completely amazed at her strength and vitality.
Gem ~Zero Shelf Control~
I wasn't sure what rating I was going to give this one. The prologue sucked me right me in to a story I'd heard so much about and was so compelling. But within 80 pages i nearly DNF. Victoria quite clearly was a victim of domestic abuse, something I have no experience of, but she didn't make me feel sorry for her. I couldn't connect to what she was going through (maybe it was just the way she narrated it) and I almost felt as if she brought it on herself. There were warning signs throughout the ...more
Teresa
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is an intelligent, accomplished woman, but I wanted to shake her so many times.
Red flags everywhere but she seemed to be wearing blinkers. No matter what this man did she appeared to be prepared to look the other way.
I hope other women in similar situations might read this book and find the strength to leave their toxic relationship before it's too late.
...more
kay keys
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book couldn't put it down.

So much respect for this lady. She should be so so proud of herself. Amazing what she went through virtually on her own always putting her children fiirst. What a mother and such a strong lady. Would recommend this book very well written and easy to read.
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Cindy Morrison
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I got frustrated with the author believing her husbands lies, I do understand until you are in the situation / relationship you won't understand. Such a good read, but hard to realise this is someone's life - their story and there are actually evil people in this world! Read it in one day and find the author a true inspiration. Worth the read! ...more
Amanda Mayne
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
A sad story of a women at the hands of mental and emotional domestic abuser that culminated in a horrifying near-death parachute jump instigated by her husband. The story itself is miraculous; how she essentially managed to survive jumping out of a plane without a working parachute, but the rest is a little dull.
AJ
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yikes so many red flags. Though my biggest problem was why in God's green earth would you willingly have kids with someone so irresponsible? Having a child is never going to fix a relationship, it just stresses it more. ...more
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