A Cheshire mum of two who grew up in a council estate in Salford, is celebrating today having become a best-selling author for the second time, with the launch this week of ‘The Truth Behind the Uniform’, a brave biography that tells of her turbulent childhood, and her subsequent turbulent police career, that led to her suffering depression and anxiety. Having come out the other side 37-year-old entrepreneur Helen Hignett has chosen to share her unique story and in doing so has seen herself fly up the Amazon charts to become a No.1 best-seller in Law Enforcement Biographies, Police Biographies and Law Enforcement categories, sitting alongside big names such as Neil Samworth, a former prisoner at Strangeways Prison, and John Douglas, a retired FBI agent whose New York Times Bestselling Book ‘Mindhunter’ was recently turned into a Netflix series.
Sharing how traumatic incidents of abuse in her youth and teenage years left her with a huge respect for the police who had always been there to pick up the pieces, led to her deciding to join the force as her salvation at 21 – something she described as ‘an honour’, Helen’s book then goes on to reveal the reality for her of working in the force – and how her excitement quickly turned to disbelief as she witnessed things she never thought she’d see from fellow police officers.
Recalling how bullying, sexism, personal prejudices and racism became regular occurrences she shares the impact this all had on her, causing stress and ill health that eventually saw her request early retirement.
Just a few of hours after its release ‘The Truth Behind the Uniform’ has captured the attention of people globally and is Helen’s second time as a bestselling author. Helen previously hit No.1 on International Woman’s Day 2019 with the collaborative book ‘The Woman I’m Becoming’ which brought together female entrepreneurs across the globe in order to inspire the future generation of young girls.
Helen’s mission with ‘The Truth Behind the Uniform’ is not only to share her experiences behind the scenes of working in the police, to raise awareness that sometimes all is not what it seems, but also to inspire readers to believe that anything is possible, as having overcome much adversity she is now stronger, so her message is that despite the traumas you might have faced, you can turn your life around.
Helen said: ”From experiencing first hand sex discrimination and workplace bullying and also seeing many examples of misconduct towards both offenders and victims, quite quickly my dream of working in the police, to help and support people, became a living nightmare. I couldn’t believe my perception of what it would be like working in the force could be so far removed from the reality, having seen homeless people abused, blatant sexism and racism as well as internal politics that no-one would believe”.
She recalls how her team were placed under pressure to have a minimum of four arrests and four detections per month and how in order to hit these targets, officers were antagonising people to get an easy arrest and detection, and were stopping and searching people without the appropriate grounds to do so. When Helen challenged this, she was told “We are a team here Helen, that means we stick together, and we work together to keep the team’s results excellent.”
Helen tells of how when she became a mother, her work life became even more unbearable as having sought more flexible shifts in order to care for her ill daughter, she was simply told “Unfortunately, you cannot have it all, you were aware of this before you had a baby.” Helen was signed off work sick with stress and anxiety after working crazy shifts and still caring for her sick child but was told by her CI told her that it was a ‘personal insult’ to him that she had taken sick leave.
Determined to encourage others to stand their ground and fight for their rights she is sharing her story, as she feels in the end she was beaten down to accept things she shouldn’t have accepted.
Helen is hugely overwhelmed about her book’s instant success. She said: “I felt I needed to tell this story, it has been bubbling away within me for years and its’s a way of me closing a chapter but also letting others know that I understand, that I’ve seen it too, and that I am there for anyone else who’s experienced similar things ….”
She said: “Since my book I have police officers from around the country contacting me, telling me similar stories, asking for help and advice. THIS HAS TO STOP! and I hope I can play a part in helping making that happen.”
As well as facing abuse in the workplace, Helen’s marriage was also collapsing and her mental state deteriorated further due to this “toxic relationship”. However, Helen’s story has a positive ending and it is this message she is so proud to share in her book.
She added: “Since I divorced and retired from the police force I have gone from strength to strength. I graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in abuse studies, have gained diplomas in life coaching and CBT therapy, have become a bestselling author, an international speaker on influencing people and motivational speaking, and started a business using all of my skills to develop a course on effective communication and how to influence people. I decided I had to take control of my life and now want to help others do the same”.
“I have worked hard and created a bright future for myself and my children and I am the happiest I have ever been. I have two beautiful daughters who have a healthy mummy, who I want to show that no matter what you face in life, you have the ability to overcome it and create that successful future. I want to be their inspiration, and if I can inspire others along the way, then that will be an incredible bonus. For me, the key is to look to the future and not live in the past, if you do, you will be caught in a vicious cycle of victim mentality and self-sabotage, so don’t be a hostage of your situation, turn it into a weapon, because you can’t change the past, but you can create the future you want, because life is too short to settle for anything less than happiness.”
Bringing this book to life through Authors & Co, whose focus is on telling stories of those who are keen to inspire and leave a legacy, Helen’s dream of writing a book to share her story and help others has materialised in just a few months from concept to completion and it has all been part of processing her own struggles over the last 2 decades as she now embarks on a new chapter herself.