Sophie's story As a high achieving student, Sophie's neglect went unnoticed

Girl looking awayMy experiences of being neglected as a child are with me every day. No one was there most of the time and, even when they were there, they weren't properly there as they were out of it. It was just hell.

My parents both used drugs and when I was growing up there was no one there to do the basic things that a child needs, like cooking meals. Mum wouldn't even notice whether I had or hadn't gone to school as she was always upstairs smashed out of her face. I wanted to go to school as I didn't want a life like my parents. It was a complete escape from reality. No one there knew what was happening at home until the house was raided.

"I just kind of stopped eating as I felt guilty if I did eat something."

No one's needs in the family were met except for Mum's. She was taking drugs and she gained weight so she must have been eating, but I wasn't eating. Mum always thought in her head that she had gone to the shops to get food so, because there was never any food in the house, she always thought that I'd eaten it and would call me a pig. I just kind of stopped eating as I felt guilty if I did eat something.

I was often left by myself and I felt so lonely. I even felt lonely when mum and dad were in the house because they just weren't there, like mentally they were completely out of it.

I often felt low and one of my lowest points was when I tried to go and speak to my mum and dad about their drug use. My dad had told me that my mum was using drugs. I already knew but for him to validate it made me realise that I wasn't just paranoid, which is what mum liked to make out. I went round to his house and he denied it all then and she obviously went mad. They were both going mad at me saying that I was making up lies. They just kept yelling and yelling, so I left. I didn't know what I was going to do, it was like everyone hated me and thought I was lying and I felt that I was completely alone. It felt completely hopeless. I took an overdose as I felt there was no way out. I wanted them to listen to me.

"When I was finally referred for support it gave me the confidence to open up and not let everything get bottled up inside of me. "

I had tried to speak to schools but they thought that because I was the good kid there wasn't really that much going on. But I think that children who are neglected might have a second life when they are at school or with their friends because if you can put a smile on your face and pretend that everything is OK then for a minute you can even fool yourself into thinking that everything is OK.

When I was finally referred for support it gave me the confidence to open up and not let everything get bottled up inside of me. I realised that what I was experiencing wasn't normal, that it wasn't OK.

I used to think that it was my fault that my mum used drugs but with support I realised that I wasn't to blame. I was also worried that I would go down the same path as my mum and some of the work taught me about making safe choices so that I didn't start using drugs. Now I'm living in my own flat and planning to go to university. My life could have been much worse if I hadn't got help.

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

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