“I was very confused. I thought it was normal because I was ‘bad’.”

This is the true story of Kirsty who suffered emotional, physical, neglect and sexual abuse at the hands of her parents.

“My mother told me that she had a difficult birth with me, that I was a noisy baby and that she was going to have a large family until she had me. From when I was really young I thought that I was bad and that she hated me.

“On a daily basis, she would shout at me, swear at me and call me names. She would hit me hard around my head. I was beaten with shoes, wooden spoons, hairbrushes and knitting needles.

“As I grew older things got worse. I tried everything I could think of to try to get my mother to like me and become ‘good’. I cleaned and cooked to the best of my ability but she always found faults. She said I was ‘stupid, useless and bad’ and everything that went wrong was my fault.

“My dad showed his love to me since I was born but he started to sexually abuse me when I was five. To start with he said it was a game, then that he did it because he loved me so much. I started to block it out while it was happening but it was painful. He also hit me and hit my mother when they were arguing about me.

“When I was eight I started to get suicidal feelings and I attempted to kill myself. I was scared and on edge every day around my mother. When I was 10-years-old she started to starve me as a punishment I had to steal food to survive.  I started to get really confused. I thought my father loved me but he was going along with my mother starving me and hitting me. I was also confused to have a boyfriend who loved me but never hurt me.

“At 14 I just couldn’t take anymore. I had known about Childline for a while and suddenly something just snapped and I decided to call them. I went to a phone box and made the call for help. At first I couldn’t speak and I hung up. I did this for about two months and each time the counsellor would tell me that it was ok for me not to talk and that they would be there for me when I was ready to talk. This really helped and eventually I built up the confidence to just say hello and answer yes or no to questions. They were very patient and stuck by me until I could have a proper conversation when I was 15. Even then I wouldn’t give my real name as I was scared.

“I was also very confused as I thought it was all normal because I was ‘bad’. I started to speak to Childline regularly and they told me that what happened to me didn’t happen to every child and that it was not my fault. It took me a while to open up to them but I am glad they didn’t push me. They were so patient.

“I started refusing to do what my mother wanted me to do. This made her mad though so I began running away. I was abusing alcohol and substances, self-harming regularly and made several suicide attempts but every time I called Childline and they sent an ambulance and saved my life.

“I was referred to Social Services but they asked me about the abuse in front of my parents and that made things worse. After that I denied anything happened as I was too scared to say anything else.

“At 16 a social worker took me to a psychiatric adolescent unit. I thought I had help and was safe but I was made to go home every weekend and the abuse continued. I started to run away on Fridays or attempted to kill myself. I repeatedly screamed, sobbed and smashed up my bedroom in the unit. I self-harmed several times a day. Eventually, after four months, they stopped sending me home. In the end I ran away to a different city so I could be as far away from my parents as possible.

“During all of this time I kept phoning Childline and I carried on calling them until I was 18. They made me realise that I had the right to be safe and concentrated on making me feel that way. Knowing I could talk to them when I needed to was a real comfort. I often hated myself and wanted to die but they saved my life so many times. I would encourage any young person who needs help to contact Childline as they will help you through whatever you are experiencing. I am now fundraising for Childline to try to raise money to give something back and help other children get the help I was given.”

Kirsty

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog contact Childline for help and support, free on 0800 1111 or get in touch online

Even if you’re not certain but suspect a child is being abused, please report it. If someone’s life is in immediate danger, always call 999, or if there’s no immediate danger but you need to speak to the police, call 101.

Alternatively, contact the NSPCC anonymously by calling the free 24/7 helpline on 0808 800 5000 online or text 88858.

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