Leanne's story How Childline counsellors were there for Leanne from 1993-1998

From around the age of 10, nothing I did was good enough for mum. We led a very chaotic lifestyle and one year we lived in 12 different places. The houses were all in bad condition and they were always dirty.

At school people would say 'you smell' and I was bullied because I was different. The bullies said that if they saw me out of school they'd kill me.

Mum had 2 or 3 partners who she'd had turbulent relationships with. There were loads of rows, sometimes violent ones. I was frightened of mum when she was drunk as she was very unpredictable.

"I was an 11-year-old girl wandering around by myself at night and I was scared."
Leanne

The lack of support, the constant arguing and the bullying at school all got too much for me so I ran away from home. I was an 11-year-old girl wandering around by myself at night and I was scared.

Luckily I saw the number for Childline and I spoke to a counsellor who listened to me. When I said I didn't want to go home they managed to get me into a refuge for the night. I spent 4 days there and I didn't want to leave – it was the first time I'd felt safe and secure in a long time.

I wasn't really given any help to support me through the transition of moving back home and I found it really difficult. I was assigned an outreach worker who was meant to take me out regularly, talk to me and make sure everything was ok in my life. But in reality she would drop me off at the cinema, pay for me and go away.

"If I was having a low day I knew that I could call them and they would be there for me."
Leanne

I ran away again when I was 12 and I couldn't get into a refuge this time so I slept rough for 3 nights. It was freezing and I was terrified that someone would hurt me. But frightened as I was, I couldn't face going home as I was scared that mum would be angry. In the end Childline found me a refuge and after that I was put into another foster home where I stayed until I was 16.

I spoke to Childline a lot over the years about the situation at home and about the bullying. I honestly don't know where I'd be without Childline. If I was having a low day I knew that I could call them and they would be there for me.


*DISCLAiMER

Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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