I’ve been through a lot in my life already and I’m only 17. I’ve always had to take care of myself because my family never looked after me properly.
My dad’s treated me bad right from when I was little. I’ve never been never good enough for him. He would tease me – even as a small kid he used to punch me and then say ‘come on, hit me’ and if I didn’t he’d call me a ‘wimp’ or a ‘girl’. But if I hit back he’d punch me twice as hard. I learnt to go along with whatever he said, and to keep out of his way.
The worst thing was that mum never told him off for the way he treated me, so I started to believe it was my fault. Mum would just say ‘don’t upset him, do what he says, he’s your father’. She never defended me from my dad. She was scared to stand up to him because he intimidated her.
When I was about 13 I started drinking heavily. If I was at a party I would take whatever drugs I could get, so I didn’t have to think about anything. I wagged just about every day, until the school told my parents. When my dad found out he was furious. He said that I was bringing shame on the family.
“The worst thing was that mum never told him off for the way he treated me, so I started to believe it was my fault. Mum would just say ‘don’t upset him, do what he says, he’s your father’.”
I hated everything. At school I was always in trouble for having fights with other kids or with the teachers. But also I hated being at home. I‘d stay over at friends’ houses, or sleep in car parks or in the city. Being on the streets was hard. I met other kids and some were ok, but everyone has their own problems and you couldn’t know who to trust. The more I stayed away, the more scared I was of going back home.
I was just trying to get through each day. I heard about a youth service in the city where I could get food. They got me into a youth refuge where I stayed for a few weeks. One of the workers there was really nice and she didn’t judge me. She tried to help me to communicate with my family and school.
Eventually I ended up going back home. My dad hasn’t been as bad since then because I’ve stood up to him. He knows I can leave and I’ve got services that can support me.