Before I was born my older sister was taken into care when she was 18 months old. My Dad went to prison accused of causing her to have multiple broken bones. I had a difficult relationship with my parents. My Mum I think has a personality disorder as she has always been manipulative, selfish and unpredictable. I sometimes wonder whether my Dad took the blame for her but I cannot prove that. Over time my Dad became an alcoholic. I seemed to always be looking after them and sorting out their lives. My Mum was always ill and eventually became disabled so I had to look after her whilst my Dad worked but I could never please her. She would shut me in the dark storeroom when she was upset with me and to this day I have problems being in enclosed spaces or in the dark.
I spent much of my childhood at my maternal Grandparents home. Mum however used to tell me all sorts of unpleasant things about them. I don’t know if they were true or if she was jealous of my relationship with them.
M worked with my Gran and had some family issues of his own so my Grandparents invited him to live with them. He was 23 and I was 7 at the time. I really liked him, he was fun, caring, he made me laugh and he took me out to the park, the beach, shopping etc.
My Grandparents went out on Friday and Saturday nights so M would look after me. One day he asked if I wanted him to be my boyfriend and of course I said yes. I thought I was so grown up having a boyfriend especially one that was older and could drive.
It started with kissing and touching and then got more serious. He had a friend called C who I also really liked. She took me shopping and bought me clothes and records. I told her that M was my boyfriend and she told me I must be really special and what I could do to make him happy.
The first time he went all the way I asked him to stop but he told me it was what boyfriends did. He said I couldn’t tell anyone or we wouldn’t be allowed to be together and I would be taken into care like my sister.
I was constantly raw between my legs and had infections. I started puberty early and my GP prescribed me the pill at 10 years old because I told her my periods were heavy. I had really long hair which M used to wind round his hand and pull when he was doing things to me so one day I took the scissors to it and cut it all off. My parents went crazy at me and I got a beating. He didn’t say a word about. It just carried on.
When I was 11 M moved in with C which was a shock to me as I thought I was his girlfriend. He assured me I was but that we couldn’t be together properly until I was older. We continued to see each other and C used to pick me up and take me to their house. My memory of her is very blurred but I don’t think she was involved in any of the acts.
I met J when I was 15. I really liked him and wanted to be with someone my own age. I struggled to have a proper relationship with him as I was overly sexual and he was inexperienced and wanted a proper relationship which I didn’t know how. Eventually we broke up but continued to be friends.
I became pregnant at 16 and had an abortion. I’m not sure if M was the father.
I went to college and as part of my course I learned about child sexual abuse. I had known deep down for a few years that what we were doing wasn’t right but this confirmed it. I didn’t want to believe it though. I opened up to J about it and he helped me see it for what it was. I stopped turning up at our meeting places and I didn’t hear from M or C again.
I went off the rails, drinking, taking drugs, sleeping around and I started sleeping rough. Somehow I managed to continue my college course and my tutor befriended me. I think it was my survival instinct that told me I needed to trust this woman so I told her everything. She became my legal guardian for the next 2 years and I moved in with her. I don’t know how she put up with me though, I was always drinking, I took drugs, I stole from her and I even nearly managed to set her house on fire once when I was drunk. I stole her car and went joyriding in it without a license. I used to cut myself with anything I could get my hands on and burn myself with cigarettes. She was amazing though she said I just needed to work through things. She never made any demands on me. I came and went as I pleased, no questions asked.
The whole time I was still having an on/off relationship with J and we eventually moved in together and I started my nurse training. J then broke up with me and had a child with another woman. I don’t blame him really because I was awful to him. I was devastated and went off the rails again. I realised that I loved J and had messed everything up. I drove my car off the road in an attempt to kill myself.
J and I got back together and have been ever since. We married and now have a child. However when our child was 3 I had a breakdown one day and came close to hurting him. I organised an emergency GP appointment and told her everything. I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression.
I think I have accepted that I will never really get over what happened but I have come a long way. J is my rock, him and my job keep me on the straight and narrow but I have times when coping is very difficult.
I think I’m very lucky to have had people in my life who cared because I don’t think I would be where I am if it were not for them. I see people who have become embroiled in drink and drugs and I think that could have been me.
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