What happened

My mum and dad divorced when I was very young. We lived in a housing commission flat. Mum had lots of single friends who always came over and we never seemed to have any family time. Then mum met a new partner, and we moved into a nice house in the suburbs. Then they started fighting, and there was violence. Mum took us to live in different places for weeks, but we always went back.

As I got older I stayed with dad and it was peaceful. But l didn’t want to go home. I was afraid of mum as she hit us all the time. My brothers were just a year younger than me and I was scared when they got hit. But then I started hitting them too.

How it affected me

We used to hide in our bedroom. Mum told us we shouldn’t make any noise so her partner could sleep. I started hating him. Later I looked for a boyfriend who would help me escape my life. I went out to pubs and spent lots of money just so I didn’t have to go home.

At school I was shy, I felt I didn’t fit in. I felt worried all the time. I hid from friends at times, because I didn’t feel happy like them.

My mother never did leave him and I don’t visit much.

My advice

The person doing the bullying doesn’t care about you or your mum. Your mum becomes so afraid, so frustrated with her life and struggles, she might be unable to love you the way she should. She is in survival mode – yours and hers. She loses confidence and control over her life. In some cases she may become an abuser too.