"kids would call me ‘smelly’ and ‘dirty’"
"We led a very chaotic life, moving house all the time. The houses were in bad condition and always dirty. I remember not washing enough, my clothes being dirty, and my hair being messy. At school the kids would call me 'smelly' and 'dirty' and I was bullied all the time.
"The bullying got so bad that the bullies said that if they saw me out of school they'd kill me. I was really scared that they might.
"I was often left to cook my own dinner and do the cleaning. There was no table to eat at. I thought our place was normal until I saw other children's homes which were so very different. My friends at school didn't want to come back to my place.
"I think mum just didn't know how to be a good mum. She had a terrible childhood herself. When I was really small, mum used to tell me she loved me, but as I got older this stopped and I thought she didn't love me anymore.
"Her moods were up and down, she drank a lot and there were often big rows, sometimes violent, with her partner. I was frightened of her when things got bad.
"I always got good grades at school, but after a while I just gave up. I didn't see the point in trying. I think the teachers should have noticed something was wrong, but no-one asked me what was going on. I felt worthless and alone – nothing was working in my life.
"I got to the point where I was really stressed and not sleeping. I felt isolated. There was no-one to turn to, only my mum, and that wasn't working. It all got too much for me, I was utterly miserable, so I ran away from home.
"Before I ran away I went to social services, I told them how stressed I was and that I wasn't going home. They gave me some money and told me to stay with a friend for the night but I was worried if I did that my mum would find me.
"I was 11 years old and on my own at night and scared. Luckily, I saw the number for Childline in a phone box and I spoke to a counsellor who listened to me. They managed to find me a safe place to stay but I was told I was only allowed to stay for a few days. Then I was in care for 6 months and it didn't work out, so I ended up back at home.
"Things soon became unbearable, so I ran away again. I slept rough for 3 nights. After that I was put into another foster home where I stayed for several years.
"I can't help but think that it could have been much better for me if our problems had been recognised, and mum and I had got more help earlier. Through all those difficult years Childline was there for me. If they hadn't helped me when I ran away I hate to think what could have happened to me. I really don't know what I would have done without Childline."
if you need support, we're here
If you're worried about anything, big or small, we can help.
5 reasons to contact us:
- we're not easily shocked by what you tell us
- you don't have to go into detail if you don't want to
- we'll never judge you
- talking to us is confidential
- we'll listen and support you in making the situation better.