So if you’ve read my “about me” post you’ll have seen that I briefly mentioned that I was abused when I was younger. Well I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now and share my experience with others and talk about how it changed my life for the better.
This will contain content some may find upsetting.
When I was 1 my Mum and Dad divorced, I’d be lying if I told you I could remember it, I barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday! But what I do remember is being 3 years old, sat on the stairs in a new house, and meeting my new step mum. I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to remember that moment from such a young age, but it’s always stuck with me. If you want to imagine what she looks like just think of the wicked witch of the west, just less green, in fact that’s how I’ll refer to her throughout this just to protect her identity, not that I should protect it but hey, I’m a nice person. The minute I met her I was terrified of her and I could tell she wasn’t too keen on me. I don’t remember so much the physical abuse at that age, however my Mum and Nanna told me that whenever she used to come and pick me up from my Mums I’d hide under the table crying, they’d try and get me out but I wouldn’t budge. I’d end up getting my own way and escape a visit to the house of horrors. As I got older though I outgrew being able to hide under the table and if I’m honest, I got tired of putting up a fight. Instead I’d tell my mum that I felt sick and didn’t want to go, but I always ended up going. I accepted that this was my life. Deal with it Meg.
From the age of 6 onwards I remember more about my experiences. I can’t lie to you and say I remember every single time she hit me, because I don’t, my brain worked incredibly hard to erase them from my mind, but it couldn’t get rid of the worst ones, and they still stay with me to this day. I remember one time she pulled a chunk of my hair out because I bought my dad a Father’s Day present… god forbid a daughter buys her dad a present. She got particularly annoyed because she was always in charge of sorting out his presents. I remember sitting on the sofa, and whilst my dad was in the kitchen, she walked past me and yanked my head backwards. Her 3 children saw and didn’t say anything, I think they may have been slightly scared of her, not that she ever raised a hand to them! Another incident was when she smacked me so hard I broke my glasses. She’d been horrible all weekend and I broke down crying on the phone to my mum, I just said it was because I missed her, little did I know she’d been stood behind me the whole time listening. She pulled me into the kitchen and went crazy at me before planting a firm smack around my cheek. My face hit the sink, resulting in a bruise and me in need of some new glasses. My dad got back and asked what had happened and once again I lied and said I’d slipped over. She always told me that if I ever told anyone she’d “drag me by my hair backwards and kill me”. Now me being so young and scared there was NO WAY I was going to tell anyone. I found that it was happening nearly every weekend that I saw her, and it was over ridiculous things, if I didn’t help with the shopping bags then that apparently meant I was in need of a slap. If I showed my Dad too much love, guess what that meant… slap! There was countless times that she gave me nose bleeds, bruises and scratches. Her famous line after hitting me was “get out of my sight” and obviously I wasn’t going to argue with that. She’d then come up and hug me and say it’d never happen again, that we could be friends and that we didn’t need to tell my dad. And I believed that. I just wanted it to stop so I went along with it. And surprise surprise, it never stopped. I couldn’t ever understand why this was happening to me. I wasn’t a badly behaved child, I never stuck a foot out of line, but she’d find any excuse to still do it. It got to the point where I started to believe that I deserved this. I’d think “She wouldn’t just hit me for no reason, I must have done something wrong”. But truth is, I never did anything wrong. And that’s something I’m only just starting to learn.
I was 11 and a half when I eventually told my mum about what had been happening to me. I remember having a particularly rough weekend and going into school on Monday in the worst mood. It resulted in me having a massive breakdown and that’s when I knew I had to tell someone. I sat on the sofa with my mum sobbing uncontrollably, barely being able to speak a word. She ended up asking me questions to try and get it out of me. “Is something happening at school?”… No. “what about at home?”… Yes. “Is it here or at your dads?”… Dads. “Is it the kids?”… I wish. “Well… is it sally?”… Cue me trying to speak but being completely inaudible. She sat for so long asking me what she was doing and I eventually built up the courage to tell her. Instantly it felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free from it all at last. Now came the hard part: telling my dad. I’d always imagined what would happen if I told my dad. He’d believe me straight away, leave the witch, and we’d live happily ever after. Surely that’s what would happen right? My mum invited him round so I could tell him what had happened, and that’s exactly what I did. I told him everything! He said he believed me and that he knew she was a horrible person. I couldn’t believe it. This was all happening how I’d imagined it! But it didn’t last for long. Once he’d left and gone back to the witch I received a phone call from him screaming and shouting at me, telling me I was a liar and that i’d torn the family apart. My world shattered. My own dad didn’t believe me. He gave me an ultimatum: either you come round and carry on seeing the family or you don’t see me again. Oh. This isn’t how I planned it. But I stayed strong and stood my ground, I said “that’s fine dad, but if you ever want to see me again you’ll have to be divorced from her”, and let me tell you, that was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. It resulted in me not seeing him for 2 years. I was called a liar so much that I even started to believe that I was, I thought maybe my imagination had made this all up, maybe it was a really bad dream, but I knew deep down it was real! He chose her over me. I went from adoring my dad to absolutely despising him. It was a really rough time, he missed an important chunk of my life, and it’s time we’ll never get back. In the 2 years apart though it didn’t stop me from getting verbally abused, I’d receive messages from the witch’s daughter saying how disgusting I was and that everybody hated me. The witch would ring the house phone pretending to be a friend from school just so my mum would pass me the phone, luckily my mum saw straight through it and told her to do one. She even rang my Nanna and said that I’d told her my grandad had touched me inappropriately, now if that doesn’t scream “fucked up individual right here” then I don’t know what does. I was constantly bumping into them in public and being verbally abused. It was the worst time of my life, sometimes I didn’t want to be alive, I thought it would be so much easier if I wasn’t here. I don’t know how I managed to stay so strong at such a young age!
Eventually, after 2 long years, my dad saw me pass by in the car and I ended up receiving a call from him, the first call in a very long time. I’d almost accepted that I’d never speak to him again, so it came as a massive shock when his name popped up on my phone. So much of me wanted to ignore it, so much of me wanted to block him out of my life, I’d worked so hard to stay strong and not get in touch with him so why should I give in now?! But I answered it. I wanted to hear what he had to say. A lot of it was small talk before he eventually asked if I would see him, I made it clear that If I were to see him it’d be only him and it wouldn’t be at the house of horrors. He seemed surprisingly okay with that. I remember him picking me up and I’ve never felt so awkward in my life! What was I meant to say to him? I still hated him at this point. He started driving and we sat in silence. He drove up to a small Manor House which had been converted into flats. Instantly I started panicking, why was he taking me here? Was this all a lie? Is the witch going to be there? I sat clenching my phone getting ready to call my mum. We got out of the car and he explained that he lived here now, and that he’d separated from the witch. She’d apparently cheated on him and so that’s why they ended things, not because I’d told him she’d been abusing me for 8 years of course. But either way I was happy, like really happy. She was out of my life and I could finally work on building up a relationship with my dad. My dad was a broken man, he wasn’t the same as I remembered him, it broke my heart. His flat didn’t have any furniture in it except for a bed, and 2 deckchairs in the living room. It got to Christmas and he had nothing not even food. My mum packed up a bag of food for him so he wouldn’t be hungry. And so we sat on our deckchairs, eating our sausage sandwiches, just enjoying each other’s company. But to this day I’ll never get that image of him out of my head, I could cry whilst writing about it, no matter how much he hurt me, to see him hurting killed me, and I couldn’t help but feel like it was all my fault. If I’d have stayed quiet he’d never have been this way. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that telling the truth was the best thing that could have happened to both of us.
7 years on and my dad has recently remarried to a great woman! He’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him. If I’m honest me and my dad never really spoke about everything that happened, it’s still the elephant in the room, every so often we bring it up but it’s only little snippets of it, we’re still piecing the jigsaw together. If there was one thing I could change about everything, it would have been speaking up sooner. No matter how scared or how nervous I was about saying it, I wish I had done it. I wish I hadn’t put myself through so many years of fear. But everything happens for a reason, and it may not have felt like it at the time, but it all worked out for the best. I struggled for years afterwards with being able to speak up when I had a problem, to this day it takes me days to tell my boyfriend if I’ve got a problem. I get scared of the outcome which is all an effect from the years of abuse I went through. My counsellor said I’d spent so long keeping quiet and building up a wall that even to this day I’m only just starting to bring that wall down. Its a work in progress, and of course I’ll never be over it, but I’m working at identifying the ways in which it has effected me and how to overcome them.
If I could give any advice to someone who may be in the same situation I’d say “stay strong, speak up, be free”. I know it’s terrifying I honestly truly do. I know all the feelings you’re feeling, but I really recommend speaking to someone you trust, whether that’s a parent, friend, teacher or colleague. It’s easier said than done of course, and it takes time to build up the courage, but I promise you it will be for the best. Nobody deserves to go through that pain and suffering, no matter what age you are. It may feel like you’ve got nobody but there is always somebody there to listen, even if it’s a stranger on the other side of a phone who works at a support centre. Everybody deserves the chance to be happy and to live a fear free life.
And so that’s my story and my experience with child abuse. A lot of my stories I haven’t put into this but they may be told in a different blog post someday, who knows.
Thankyou so much for taking the time to read this. If you’ve been affected by any of these issues then I want you to know I’m always always here for you to talk to. If this post can help just one person, then my job is done!