Sally's story

Sally explains how talking to Childline counsellors helped her to cope with a difficult homelife and bullying at school.

Bullies would taunt me and call me names

"I first contacted Childline online when I was being bullied at school and things were getting more and more difficult at home. Dad was alcoholic, and mum and dad’s relationship wasn’t good. There were constant arguments and I’d never know when dad might suddenly snap and get angry. We tried to get help but he was in denial and used to hide the drink.

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"I felt worthless and ugly. I didn’t really take care what I looked like because I felt there was no point and I didn’t want to look in the mirror."

I was good at my school work, but the bullying was so bad that sometimes I wouldn’t go to school and the school would send letters home about it. Bullies would taunt me and call me names, saying nasty things about how I looked. I felt worthless and ugly. I didn’t really take care what I looked like because I felt there was no point and I didn’t want to look in the mirror. The bullies would sometimes follow me and spit on me. I was quite sensitive and vulnerable and became easy pickings for them.

I needed someone to talk to about it but there just wasn’t anyone there for me. I thought my family had enough problems and mine weren’t important. I didn’t tell them if I was upset, I just bottled it up. And I couldn’t talk about what was happening at home with friends – I didn’t think they would understand.


Needing someone to talk to

I was about 15 years old when I first contacted Childline. I felt really down and I wondered if Childline could help. At first, I just looked at the message board threads on the website. It was the first time I’d seen anything like this: there were other young people with problems, some of them similar to mine, and they were reaching out for help. I had thought my problems weren’t bad enough and that I didn’t deserve help, but now I started to think maybe my problems did matter and I could ask for help. I didn’t feel so alone."

25648-exp-2024-01.jpgThis gave me the confidence to try 1:1 messaging with a counsellor on the Childline website. I went into the queue and waited, but then when I got to the end of queue I pulled out several times because I was scared. I was very nervous. When I finally had to courage to go through with it, I began talking on the chat about the problems at home. I didn’t know where to start, but they helped me focus on one thing at a time.

"It look a long time, but being listened to gave me confidence to make friends, and now I do talk to some friends about problems."

This confidence also helped me learn to deal with the bullies better. When things were bad, it helped me stop the self harm and feel better about myself. I would go onto the Childline website, sometimes to take my mind off the urge to self harm. I felt so much better afterwards because Childline was really listening to me.

One of the best things about Childline is that I knew it was always there when I felt low, when I didn’t have anywhere else to turn to. Now I feel like I have a voice."

Childline: supporting young people struggling during lockdown 

Young people like Sally often turn to Childline for help. During lockdown, a Childline counselling session has taken place every 5 minutes. And still being here for children during this crisis has meant rapidly adapting our services.

Having been a Childline counsellor for 6 years, Omar thinks the isolation of lockdown has put children’s mental health at breaking point. He says Childline have supported young people struggling with missing their friends, having no-one to talk to, or experiencing tensions at home. 

"What I’ve realised is that it’s no longer just about kids who would typically be identified as ‘vulnerable’. In lockdown, all children’s mental health is at greater risk. We are an essential service. We continue to pick up when other services are shutting down or when children are moved on from other services. They don’t have to book an appointment, they don’t have to be referred, they can just pick up the phone and call. "
Omar, Childline counsellor of 6 years.

*DISCLAIMER

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