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True stories

Stories from Young People

How do other people cope with abuse or domestic violence? What have they learnt from their experiences? Read these true stories:

You can also read stories from Adults Looking Back on abuse at home; and from Famous People who grew up with abuse at home.

'I hated to see mum get hurt . . .'

My mum met my step-dad when I was five. After he came into our lives, things changed. At times he could be ok, take us out as a family and stuff, but at other times he'd get into these nasty moods.

When he was in a mood and going at mum, I used to get between them, even though they both would yell at me to go to my room. Sometimes I got hit by him if I got in the way, but I hated to see mum get hurt.

One night I got home late and my little step-brother was crying, and my step-dad was screaming at my mum, she had a cut on her arm. He was really aggro and I saw him throw an ash-tray at her head. Mum said for me to take my brother and go next door, she looked so scared. The neighbours let us in and told me to call the police. I rang them and told them what was happening.

After about 10 minutes I heard the police drive up, and I could hear my step-dad yelling at them. One of the policemen came next door and told me that they had warned my step-dad that if it happened again he could get charged. They also told me that mum could go to the court for a protection order to stop him from coming near our house.

Even though things quietened down for a while, my step-dad didn't change his ways much. There would still be major blow-ups. He used to hurt our cat, kick it or throw it around if he was mad. He used to pick on my step-brother too, saying he's turning into a wimp and stuff. I could never relax at home, I would have liked to stay out but I didn't want to leave my little brother there on his own. There was a TV in my bedroom, so me and my brother used to watch it with the sound turned up so we didn't have to hear the arguments. I didn't want to invite anyone from school home either, because the atmosphere at home was always shit.

One day mum rang to say I had to finish school early. She said we had to pack up before my step-dad came home. We got everything we could and went to a house called a refuge. It looked like a normal house, but it was miles away from where we lived and it was run by workers. Another family was there as well, and I met a girl my age there. We lived there for four months. My step-dad kept ringing mum on her mobile, and once he said he was going to find her and kill her. Mum called the police and he got charged for making threats.

Eventually things with him went a bit quieter. Mum found another place to live and we moved there. Now my step-dad speaks to my mum on the phone but he isn't allowed to come to our place because mum got a court protection order. Recently he took mum to the Family Court because he wanted to see my step-brother. So now about once a month my step-brother has to go to an auntie's place to see him, but I don't.

Last month I went to counselling with my mum. She organised it. The counsellor was nice, she asked me to tell mum how I felt about everything. I asked mum why she didn't leave my step-dad earlier? She got upset and said she wanted to leave him but was worried about what he would do if she did. It was good because we got to hear how each other feels.

*Read more: 'What is Domestic Violence?'; or 'FAQs about Domestic Violence' or 'What is Child Abuse?'.

'we all used to get really worried . . .'

I always used to think 'what's wrong with me and my family?' Every few weeks dad would get aggressive and weird, he said nasty and rude things about mum. Mum would just start crying - sometimes she would run out of the house and up the road to a neighbour's, sometimes it took hours for us to find her. We used to all get really worried.

No-one talked about it - it was just one of those things. Dad never really hit mum, just threatened her, so maybe we didn't think it was that bad. But it did affect me growing up, and my other sisters too.

*Read more: 'What is Domestic Violence?'; or 'FAQs about Domestic Violence'

'I thought it was my fault too . . .'

My father used to touch me in a horrible way when mum was at work at night. I was 10 years old when it started. I felt so sick when I knew it was a night that mum had to work, worrying about what would happen. I was tense and stressing out all the time.

I was scared to tell anyone - I thought it was my fault too because I didn't stop it. He used to say I shouldn't tell anyone and that mum would kick me out if she found out. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want anyone at school finding out, because I felt like they'd all look down on me.

This has been going on for the last 4 years. This year we had a health class, and someone came to our school to talk about abuse. I knew that what they were talking about was what was happening to me. At the end of that class I just sat there when the bell rang, I felt like my head was about to explode. The teacher asked me if I was ok. I kind of avoided the question for a while, but how it must have shown on my face. Then everything came out.

The school rang mum. She had to come in and meet with the student welfare co-ordinator. They told her what I had said. Then they called me in. I was terrified that she would blame me or not believe me. She looked totally shocked, asked me if it was true and I said it was.

It's hard to remember what happened next. Me and my brother had to go and stay at my auntie's place, and now mum has come to stay there too. I've also had to speak to a counsellor about it. I haven't spoken to dad for a couple of months. I don't know if I want to or not, and mum says I don't have to. It's confusing, I feel like I should love him because he's still my dad, but I just feel like I hate him. Even though mum has looked really stressed out, she told me I did the right thing. I'm so glad that he can't get at me any more. None of the other kids at school know about all this, and I'm not sure if I'll tell any of my friends or not. I'll see how it goes.
**Read more: 'What is sexual abuse?' and 'FAQs about sexual abuse'

'I have been through a lot in my life already . . .'

For someone who is only 17 I have been through a lot in my life already. I have always had to take care of myself because my family never properly looked after me.

My dad treated me bad right from when I was a baby. It was like I was never good enough for him. He would bait me, even as a small kid he used to hit me and then say 'come on, hit me, stand up and be a man' and I would try to hit back and he'd belt me twice as hard. He used to kick or hit me if I didn't do what I was told. So 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. She would just yell at me 'don't get him mad, it's your fault you should do what he says'. She never defended me from my dad, she acted like I deserved everything I got. I started to believe that everything was my fault.

When I was about 13 I started drinking heavily and smoking pot every day. I also used whatever drugs I could get, just to get out of it, so I didn't have to think about anything. I wagged just about every day, until the school told my parents and my dad bashed me up so bad to punish me.

I hated school because I was always in trouble for having fights with other kids or with the teachers. But also I hated being at home. I used to stay over at friend's houses, and sometimes I would sleep out in car parks. The more I stayed away, the more scared I was of going back home, cos I knew I would get a belting for running away. I started sleeping in the city, in doorways or wherever, and hanging out with other kids there. It still was better than going home.

After a while I went to a youth support service and they got me into a refuge. Some of the workers there are cool and you feel like someone cares about you for once. They went in to Centrelink with me and helped me get some money, and they have just helped me organise my life more. They are trying to get me into long-term accommodation. Now at least I feel like I might have a future.

**Read more: 'What is Child Abuse?'

It felt like nothing made sense…

When I was eleven years old, my mum’s new boyfriend moved in with us. I thought it would be good for mum cos she had a drinking problem and was depressed, and I thought it would make her feel better having him there. At first he was ok and bought me presents, but then mostly he ignored me. Then after a few months he started doing things that made me nervous, like when I was at home alone with him he’d walk around naked. Then he asked me to touch him – I tried to avoid him all the time, but sometimes I couldn’t and I was scared to tell him to stop.

I didn’t know how to tell mum what was happening cos I didn’t even know what to say. One day when I was 13, we were fighting because I said I hated him (mum’s boyfriend) and she got angry with me. Then I told her how she doesn’t know what he does when she’s not around, I said ‘he tries to touch me’. At first she said I was making it up and exaggerating. Then she said I shouldn’t wear skimpy clothes around the house. It upset me deeply because it seemed like she didn’t really care about me and she didn’t blame him for what he did, it was like she thought it was my fault. I started staying over at friends’ places and avoiding going home. I told my friends I hated mum’s boyfriend but was too embarrassed to say I’d been abused by him. Sometimes mum told me I couldn’t go out, but often she was too stressed or pissed to notice what I was doing.

I couldn’t handle the way I was treated at home. Sometimes I’d sleep in empty buildings in the city where there were other kids, or couch hop at different people’s houses. I hung out with older guys and stayed with different guys for protection or for somewhere to sleep because I had almost no money. Sometimes I went back home but it was too hard being there and my mum’s boyfriend was openly rude to me, like he’d say ‘Oh the lying bitch is here is she?’ I tried to go to school but I drifted away from my friends and I got into using drugs, which made it harder to keep up with school. I was angry all the time and even the slightest thing would set me off yelling or walking away from people. It felt like nothing made sense, I hated myself and I didn’t know if mum really cared about me. Once I ‘OD-ed’ (overdosed on drugs) in the city and someone called an ambulance and I went to hospital. They called mum and she was upset, but when I was back at home nothing changed.

At first I avoided talking to youth workers cos I thought they would call the cops on me and send me back home. I was worried they’d find out I was using drugs, but actually the workers were nice, they helped me to find a place in a refuge [**read more about refuges and leaving home]. They also reported my case to Child Protection [**read more about Child Protection services] and I had to talk to a Child Protection Caseworker. The Caseworker asked me about why I didn’t want to go home, and I told her it was because of mum’s boyfriend. She kept asking me about him and eventually I told her that he tries to touch me. She was nice and said she’d talk to mum. Meanwhile I stayed at the refuge. All the kids staying there would watch TV together and everyone had their own problems, so you didn’t feel like a freak. If you were stressed a refuge worker would come up to you and ask if you were ok.

Mum must have listened to the Caseworker because suddenly she decided she was going to make her boyfriend move out. The Caseworker said he would be charged for abusing me and that the police will want to know what happened. For a while it was good at home with mum, but I knew she would end up drinking again and that she would take him back, and she did - she started seeing him again. When the police interviewed me about the abuse I didn’t tell them much even though they pushed me to talk, but I was too scared of him.

At fifteen I was sent into a foster care family. At first I used to yell at my foster mum or dad or refuse to speak to them for days. But I think I was just turning my anger on them and I was kind of jealous that their family was so normal. It took me a while to get used to a totally new family life. But my foster parents are nice, their kids are older and don’t live at home. They help me with school work, buy me things, and I can invite friends over when I want. In some ways they act like they are my parents and they really do care about me, but they still make sure I still see my mum.

Now mum says she’s sorry that I’ve got hurt because of her problems, and that’s made me feel a lot better. In some ways I have been more hurt by mum’s reaction than by how her boyfriend treated me. I was devastated by her reaction to the sexual abuse – she is my mum and she should stand up for me. I hate him for what he has done and I never want to see him again. But I think me and mum are working stuff out now. My life feels a bit more stable even if I still feel sad and confused about everything that has happened. I don’t use (drugs) anymore, I’ve seen what drink has done to mum and I want to keep my life together and try to get some good school results so I can get in to a uni course.

**Read more: 'What is sexual abuse?' and 'FAQs about sexual abuse'

The counsellor has helped me to become a better person….

I am fifteen. I have grown up with domestic violence between my parents, but sometimes I’m caught in the middle and I’ve been forced to take sides. I’ve also had to deal with bullying at school and at times I have found it hard to cope with stress and control my temper.

My school counsellor referred me to a counsellor at a local youth service about a year ago. The counsellor is good, she has taught me to deal with stress. A separate counsellor at the service is helping my parents to sort out their problems.

My counsellor has made me understand that only I can control myself and my behaviour, and so only by changing myself can I change the way others react to me. I have learnt to be more independent and respect others’ points of view, not going off at them straight away if I disagree with what they say or do.

The counsellor has helped me to become a better person. She believes in me which has helped me to believe in myself even when others don’t.

She talks to my school so they can help me to get my homework done and she keeps me motivated to do tennis and netball.

**Read more about talking to counsellors, teachers and hotlines
**Read more: 'What is Domestic Violence?'; or 'FAQs about Domestic Violence'

I was abused by my stepfather…

I was abused by my stepfather. The first thing I remember happening is when I was 5 years old he use to rub my legs and tell me that my legs were too hairy. He would touch me in weird ways and then he started to want to take my pants off and do stuff. Everything else was blocked out until I was 13 and I realized I was being sexually abused. When I went to school one day I had met a new friend and I told her how I felt. She told me that I had to tell someone so I finally told someone at school so it was easier on my mum.

He has been prison for 5 years now and I will never have to worry about coming home again!

I eventually realized that I was being sexually, mentally, and physically abused. I thought it was normal at first then when I realized it was wrong, I told my friend, and then it made it easier to get help. I have been in counselling for a little over a year and it has been going really well. My family understands that I need to be alone sometimes.

Without him there I didn't have to worry about what was going to happen when my mum walked out of the house and he lunged after me. I didn't have any more fears and I have been way more open to my mum.

What helped me most was my friend, who changed my life - she ordered me to tell even though I wasn't quite sure that I was ready. I used to think it was my fault so I gained weight thinking that it would stop - but it didn't. My mum helps me get stronger and stronger everyday.

My Advice: If you are being abused don't think that it is your fault because it isn't. The older person isn't suppose to go after you, you should be strong and tell somebody at school. Its hard at first but after it is all over you realize it was definitely worth it!

**Read more about talking to counsellors, teachers and hotlines
**Read more: 'What is Sexual abuse?'

You can also read stories from Adults Looking Back on abuse at home; and from Famous People who grew up with abuse at home.


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