“Once there was a happy family.
Until things started to change. My dad lost his job and started drinking.

Up until that time we were a normal family.

Then as soon as my dad was drunk, he would start yelling. I was locked in my bedroom in the dark, crying while my dad belted my mum. I could hear everything – the yelling, the crying. As I got older I would get my little brother and sister, hide them in my room, then run out of my room to help my mum. Sometimes I would get hit trying to protect her.

Because of that I hated going to school - I couldn’t concentrate. One day my mum arrived at school to pick me up in a strange car with my little brother and sister and all my toys in the back. Mum said we were going to stay at a different house for a little while and that was all I was told. I was scared. We all slept in one room that had three sets of bunks. I felt heaps of different emotions. I was scared, angry, guilty, shameful and jealous of everyone I knew that didn’t have to go through this. I started taking drugs and getting drunk every chance I had.

Until finally a newly found friend said to me, ‘has something happened to you in the past?’ …”

“Everything was fine until I was 10.

Then it started. My father used to touch me in horrible ways when mum was at work at night. 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. It went on for 4 years. Until finally someone came to our school to talk about abuse. 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. Then everything came out.

It's hard to remember what happened next.”

“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 so do what he says'.

Because of that when I was about 13 I started drinking heavily and smoking pot every day. I used whatever drugs I could get, just to get out of it, so I didn't have to think about anything. I hated school because I was always in trouble for having fights with other kids or with the teachers.

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. I started sleeping in the city, in doorways or wherever, and hanging out with other kids there.

Until one day I went to a youth support service…

“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.

It upset me deeply because it seemed like she didn’t really care about me. Sometimes mum told me I couldn’t go out, but often she was too stressed or pissed to notice what I was doing.

That’s’ why 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.

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

Now mum says she’s sorry that I’ve got hurt because of her problems.