Mum made sure I had lots of happy memories growing up. One of my favourite days was spending time at a soft play centre and going down a slide really fast. I was 6 years old.
I have lots of sad memories too. All of them involve my dad. I didn’t feel very safe. Dad did lots of things that scared me. He would punch holes in walls and once kicked my brother’s door off the hinges because he wouldn’t let him into his bedroom.
I kept my feelings about what I’d seen at home to myself. School weren’t very helpful. They thought I had behavioural problems and sent me to a specialist who didn’t understand me.
"I saw him raise his hand to hit mum and I was worried about what he’d do. "
My worst memory of growing up happened when I was 9 years old. My dad was shouting really loud and calling my mum lots of really awful names. I saw him raise his hand to hit her and I was worried about what he’d do so I got in the middle to protect her and push him away. We moved out of the house that day and went to stay with my Nana.
I started to pretend to be ill at school so I could go home and be with mum. I was afraid that my dad would turn up and felt scared about what he’d do.
My school nurse asked Lynsey* from the NSPCC to come and see me. She talked to me about their Domestic Abuse: Recovering Together (DART) programme and how it might help me. Lynsey was the first person who spoke to me about the violence like an adult rather than a child.
At the first session I got to meet other young people who had seen the same things and had similar feelings. I started to feel a bit more normal and realised for the first time that I wasn’t alone.
"It helped me to understand that bottling up things wasn’t a good idea."
My favourite session was where we made a volcano bottle bubble with vinegar and baking soda. I’d filled the volcano with words that described how I felt about my dad and lots of glitter so that when the volcano bottle burst it helped me to understand that bottling up things wasn’t a good idea.
It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.