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Surviving at 15: a view from a caller

When I was younger I lived with my Mum, Dad and twin sister. My mother and father had an abusive relationship, resulting in violence a lot of the time, and they were both dependent on alcohol. This left me and my sister feeling quite insignificant, worthless and useless, we learnt that Mum and Dad were angry adults, and we generalised this to all adults, so we both just lived our own lives, excluding adults, as they didn’t seem to care.

Dad would abuse my sister sexually; and this was pretty much how life was for us, I can remember times where I would try to defend my sister, and getting hurt myself, but I loved my sister and I would do anything to try and protect her.

One thing led to another, and someone must have reported our family to social services (I’ve never found out who) and we were moved into a children’s home temporarily. We were about 12 at the time, and it was quite confusing and overwhelming and threw up so many different feelings for us both, we had suddenly moved into a home with many young people, who were experiencing all kinds of problems, and we were being looked after by many care workers who worked shifts.

We didn’t cope, and I began to show violence towards the carers, while my sister would keep quiet and hide her feelings. I was violent towards my sister and the teachers and pupils at school, now I can see that this was because of the learnt behaviour I gained off my parents. In the end I was moved away from my sister (I physically hurt her) and I was placed into another children’s home.

Things didn’t go much better here, I felt like such a let down and so lonely. I had nothing. I turned to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, and this turned into a daily routine for me. The drug problem started off with drugs like Cannabis, but turned into more serious drugs like Heroin and Speed. I got in with the wrong crowd of people, and I would beg, borrow and steal to get the money to buy drugs. Drugs took over and controlled my life and who I was. I would react to anything with aggression, anger and violence. I was expelled from three schools for bad behaviour; I pretty much had given up.

I got into so much trouble, with the police and to be quite honest, I can’t work out why I never got off with more than a warning from the police! I met a girl from school, who became a real “friend” to me and we got together as girlfriend/boyfriend. She was someone I could turn to when I felt depressed and down. We had our ups and downs, and countless arguments, but we stuck together.

At the beginning of last year she fell pregnant. I think this is the point where I realised I needed to sort myself out, and at first I didn’t, I would still go out, get drunk and show anger towards people. Deep down I knew this was wrong, but it was my way of life. I guess it dawned on me that my girlfriend was carrying a little person, who was mine, and having had pretty bad experience with my biological family, almost made me determined to make this relationship positive.

How was I going to get there? Well like I said, I was using anger, drugs and violence, but I couldn’t sort that out on my own. I knew I needed to develop trust in somebody, an adult (or adults) to help me. It was developing this trust, which I found so hard. In the end I contacted a few charities and help-lines, and I found support there, I guess it helped because I was at a “safe” distance, they did not know who I was, they couldn’t see me and they couldn’t interfere with my carers/social services.

I think personally, the hardest thing was for me to accept is people are there to help me, people want to help me and people can help, whether the people are professionals, charity workers or friends. My life isn’t perfect now, I am still working through issues and learning new coping mechanisms, which I can use which are positive and help me.

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