"Knew I had to speak to someone"
"When I was 9 my mum met a new man. At first I really liked him and looked up to him as a father figure but things started to change shortly after he moved in with us. My mum and I were really close and I think he was jealous.
"He was drinking a lot and started being mentally and sometimes physically abusive towards me. He would just start picking on me for little things, or even nothing at times. I did my best to avoid him, but if at times I couldn't, he would just start yelling at me. I was set a rule that I only ever went into the kitchen for food, at certain times and if I missed that slot, I went without, but I was too afraid to go downstairs in case he chased into the kitchen after me as he always did.
"Bawling at me, backing me into the corner until I was whimpering and crying, he would just laugh at me and walk away, satisfied by my distress. Despite all of this, the hardest thing for me was seeing how he behaved towards my mum. He would shout at her about me and they would have huge arguments and I just couldn't handle it.
"I was shut up in my room, hearing his aggression, fearing for my mum's safety, and it felt like it was all my fault. My name was brought into everything and he made sure I heard every word.
"I started escaping from the house to go to the phone box where I would will myself to phone Childline but I always chickened out at the last minute. Eventually things just got too much. I was having thoughts about killing myself and knew I had to speak to someone so I finally plucked up the courage and called. Although Childline couldn't change what was happening to me, just knowing that they were there to listen made me feel like I was less alone and bought me back from the brink. Feeling so depressed made it hard to get through day to day. Knowing that I would speak to Childline gave me something to hold on to and look forward to.
"Around this time I was also being bullied at school and when I went to talk to the head of upper school about it I found her really easy to talk to and ended up telling her about the situation at home. With her help I started seeing a counsellor but I was still calling Childline. In the home environment I had no-one, I was prevented from speaking to my mum and she couldn't come to my room to see me. He would come charging upstairs and sometimes literally pull her from my room, or burst in and demand to know what was happening, so eventually it was easier to not even try, it saved the arguments, though I felt so isolated. Talking to a Childline counsellor on the phone was like having them in the house with me, the only time I felt safe whilst I was there.
"Childline made me feel like I was important, like I did actually matter, unlike how my mum's partner made me feel; bad and worthless. Talking with them helped me keep my head pretty straight. With my mum's partner getting inside my head, setting me up and making things up, I almost started to doubt myself, and question whether I had done something wrong, when in actual fact it was him, planting things and telling lies in order to fuel an argument.
"The Childline counsellor even praised me for achievements and little things I did, that made a big difference because it wasn't really coming from anywhere else, I know my mum would have wanted to, but how could she, she was like a prisoner to him too, she had to tiptoe around just as I did.
"I really felt like Childline was a friend, although I understood and fully respected their limits and their role, being able to talk to someone like I could them, meant a lot to me, even when we just talked about life in general and basic things.
"I was scared about discussing how suicidal I felt with anybody in case they told my mum, or hospitalised me, but I felt able to talk to Childline about it and the counsellor always asked if I wanted them to contact somebody, and if not, that I felt able to keep myself safe and phone somebody if that changed. Before any call was ended, they would always make sure I was okay, and try and end on a light note.
"We eventually moved house to get away from my mum's ex-partner but what he did will stay with me forever. I don't call Childline on a regular basis anymore but I'll always be grateful to them because without Childline I don't know what I would have done."
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