Life for B was with child abuse within a toxic family background, with ‘mother’ at the helm. It was an environment in a dysfunctional family amongst a chaotic mix of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. B watched as her sister was taken into care by a social worker because her mother couldn’t control her. The child was four years of age. According to them, B was a good girl; therefore, she stayed to help her mother; like ‘good girls do!’ But no matter how many times she begged them to let her go into care, the answer was always no.
My child abused hell with ‘mother.‘
My siblings and I were in a house where child abuse, trauma, and emotional neglect were routine. Our home was nothing but chaos and misery, which affected everyone due to the main contributor being ‘Our mother’. Sadly, one of my younger sisters had suffered terribly at the hands of mother. Sadly, she had to see a psychiatrist when she was four due to her behaviour. She went into care; she was only four.
I was ten when my sister went away; I asked the social worker if I could go into care too! The reason for this? My mother said she couldn’t control her; so the social worker took her away. After that, the child abuse for the rest of us children continued. However, social services forgot us. This abuse wasn’t a fantasy to me. I knew the realities of going into the care system. However, it was preferable to the daily child abuse and neglect we lived with.
But my social worker denied my request. According to my Social worker, I was “A good girl, and I should stay at home; where I was ‘needed’. The child abuse continued, and I felt that I didn’t belong with this abuse. I had always felt different, and I didn’t know why; I just did.
‘Mother’ or ‘Child’ why am I different?
I was ten years of age, and I was tiny; however, I lacked in size in spirit. So, there I sat a tiny person, ME. I asked her again, this time in a sad voice,” I’ll not be upset. But please, tell me the truth; am I adopted?”
She looked me coldly in the eyes and said in a sinister voice, “you’re not fucking adopted.” I’m your mother and your fathers in Ford Cemetery. Stop thinking you’re special; you’re not.’ So, now I knew why I felt different. I wasn’t adopted, was I like my real Dad? Who else knew that he was dead? Did his family want nothing to do with me? There were no answers to the questions in my head; no one would listen or hear me. So, I gave up.
Child abuse; Drunken fight nights with knives and police cells…
My Dad was dead. My Stepdad was the man holding a knife, standing next to me, and he was demanding the truth be told. I found out my Stepdad wasn’t my dad when I was asleep one night when I was about six; they were having one of their ‘fights.’ That night was when I realised my dad wasn’t my Stepdad. The ‘fights’ often happened, but he was very drunk and incredibly angry with my mother. He ordered her, to tell me the truth that he wasn’t my dad. He had a knife in his hand and spat out my dad was X; X was buried in Ford Cemetery.
‘My mother,’ and my many ‘Uncles.’
My Stepdad and ‘mother‘ had been divorced for about three years when suddenly they were together again. He had visited to see his kids at that time, and then, with no warning, he just came back. During his absence, my ‘mother’ had married a man who had just turned up one day in the house. This peace didn’t last long because he was an alcoholic, but he was friendly, and it was quieter for a while!
That wasn’t unusual; we had lots of uncles; who would turn up and stay awhile. However, she married that one, and subsequently, he left. Then she got back with my Stepdad and got pregnant again. Therefore, we had to move house because there were so many of us, and my mother became seriously ill when she was heavily pregnant. At this point, I went to stay with my Nan & Grandfather, and I stayed with them for over a year. Again, my mother split up from my Stepdad, and subsequently, she was back out and on the pull.
Child abuse: why did my social worker never listen?
I hated my life, the men, and how she would put cigarettes and men before us. Every time I told my social worker about the child abuse, we suffered, they never listened and did anything to help.
Sadly, throughout my childhood, the emotional abuse, and the neglect we suffered went worse. Subsequently, ‘our mother’ put all her female children in vulnerable positions. I was helpless, and I didn’t know where it led, nor did I want to find out. I wanted to go into care because I knew I would be safe.
Respite with Nan and Grandad…
When I lived at my Nan & Granddad’s house, I matured, which scared my Nan. She thought she would have the same trouble with me that she had with my mother. However, I wanted to wear makeup and act grown-up, but my Nan didn’t like it. Perversely, even though I loved my Nan, I didn’t want to stop. I knew it was upsetting her, and I didn’t want that, so sadly, I returned home.
My baby sister, my mother’s final baby was 14 months old; therefore, my mother decided to take me out of school to look after her baby. I didn’t think I had a choice; she was my sister, and it was what ‘good girls did. My older sister left home when she became pregnant at 14; now, it was just the little ones and me. My sanctuary of school was gone.
Child abuse: The ‘hidings’ continue from ‘mother.’
Mother knew I loved school; it was my sanctuary; however, she knew how to use the things I loved to punish me. Even as young children, she would hit us with her hands, belts, or anything near her. I was stubborn or stupid. (I’ve debated this many times to myself!) And I would say to myself, “I’ll not cry to satisfy you now“. And by God, I didn’t. However, in whatever form she chose, the child abuse never stopped; I never let her see me cry. So, my mother decides to punish me in other ways.
She knew I loved school and reading, so she took the light bulb out in my room. She would take my books from me and lock me in my bedroom with no light and no reading books. I hated this punishment she had done to me even as a small child, and she knew it. I would still get the “Good Hidings;” however, I’d also have all the other types of child abuse she liked to use.
Child abuse: my social worker did not listen.
We lived like this until one day when I was thirteen. I found ‘mother’ in bed with someone she ‘really shouldn’t have been with.’ I snapped; I screamed at her, saying I ‘hated the way she lived,’ and I cried to Nan’s house. Once more, I stayed with my Nan until again; the social worker came to visit; again, Margaret, my social worker, was still not moving me.
One of the reasons I had been asking to go in care was to keep my school attendance up, and again, my social worker said no. Every time I asked her to go into care and told her how my mother would justify her abuse, the answer was the same, it was no. Her reason? Because I was a good girl.
Holding hands love at 14
I was fourteen when I had a boyfriend called J. J’s mother who died tragically in a house fire, so when I met him, he had just moved with his sister to my mother’s friend, Betty’s house, which was opposite my house. J’s sister stayed with Betty, and J stayed with us. When I say boyfriend, I mean in a gentle, holding hands way.
We both had seen enough abuse from our mothers and their various boyfriends (J’s mum was a prostitute), and our backgrounds led to us being ‘oddly prudish’ together. In the spring of my 14th year, I managed to save up and pay for myself to go on a school trip to Spain for a week, and I had fun. I felt like a ‘normal kid’, and I enjoyed it. We had arranged that J would meet me at the school to pick me up on my return, which he did; however, something had happened, and J had moved back.
Child abuse:’ mother’ tried to make a man out of a 14-year-old child.
We arrived at Betty’s house, and I asked J what had happened. J was distressed, then he told me, “Your mum came into my room and got into bed with me when I was asleep. ‘Your’ mother was naked, and she told me that she’d make a man out of me.”
Subsequently, J ran out and went over to his sister’s house and told her about it. J said he had jumped out of bed and said that he ‘didn’t want that and she should leave him alone!’ However, he said she was adamant that he should ‘enjoy her experience’ while I was away.
At this point, years of anger and hurt flew through me, and silently raging, I ran over to my mother’s house. I knocked on the door, and one of the little ones opened it, so I asked her, ‘where is ‘my mother?’ She said that ‘mother’ was in the kitchen, and in a blind rage, I ran at ‘mother’, screaming my head off that ‘I knew everything! As a result, we physically fought each other; amazingly, ‘mother’ never even tried to deny it!
In my sanctuary of foster care, I was safe.
My head and body hurt, so I went to a friend’s house and told her. I asked her if I could sleep there. Thankfully, her mum said yes. The next day I made my way to the local Children’s Care home, where I knocked on the door and waited patiently for someone to hear me. The door opened, so I went inside and began to tell them about myself, who my social worker was and why I wasn’t going back home.
I had lots of scratches and bruises, but sure enough, they tried to dissuade me from staying. However, this time I was adamant; there would be no going back because I had waited too long for my sanctuary, and subsequently, social services finally heard my voice. Managers at the Children’s home arranged a meeting with my social worker present, and they finally disclosed the documented history of child abuse. Finally, they made a 28-day voluntary assessment order, and I stayed at the Children’s home; I was safe at last!
At the end of the 28 days, they had another meeting with me to see if I wanted to go back to my mother and home. I did not, and I made this clear that my life depended on it; subsequently, they decided I would live in the Children’s home until social workers found foster carers.
My foster parents are angels who saved me.
My future foster parents were the second family that I visited, and when we first met, we just clicked; we fit together. It was like I’d found the jigsaw piece I’d been looking for since I was a tiny tot; it was heaven!
Thirty-five years later, we are family, and I have amazing parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, and family where blood played no part; we are a blended family. They helped save me and helped me realise the potential I had all this time.
Subsequently, they came together and put me back to where I should have been, on the right path, which gave me stability and hope while nurturing me with kindness and love!
My childhood; shaped my future.
My school careers adviser had told me to “Go and work in a shop until you have your babies.” I took exception to this and had great delight in finally going back to see them with a BSc (Hons) MA in Paediatric nursing in a very specialised field and an MA in Child studies. All the time I knew I was different but didn’t know why. I have always tried to be a good girl, and no matter what happened in my life, I stayed true to myself.
I found out what they meant by being ‘A good girl.‘
When I left school, I began working within Social Services in Liverpool, sharing my story with my colleagues. However, I was shocked and angry at one woman’s reaction when I told her about my social worker and what I went through. She coldly said, ‘That’s because you were a good girl, you didn’t make a fuss, and you kept quiet.’ I was baffled by what she meant. She coldly explained that I hadn’t ‘kicked off.’ I had caused no trouble, so I didn’t have to go into care; I stayed at home, as good girls do. As a result, social workers didn’t help me because I hadn’t asked them to; therefore, they didn’t need to.
My beloved NHS.
When I marched into the children’s homes at 14 years of age and declared I intended to make myself homeless if they didn’t let me stay, I had forced their hand. They had to do something with me, but they hadn’t budgeted for me; it was then that the penny dropped. I left that job and went on to do something far more worthwhile; Paediatric Nursing, where I carved a 25-year career within my beloved NHS. A vocation that I loved then and still love now, even though I have retired.
In the end, I found with my fostering family the love and support I needed to find the confidence in myself that instead of fighting to survive, I could learn and make a future that was about what I wanted. And I have done just that, and I have loved every second! I look to the future with excitement, and I cherish every second I have with my daughter, who I am guiding with pride to become a strong and independent woman.
To my foster parents, ‘Thank you for giving me my future.’
I am lucky in my life; my decision to be a foster parent enables me to give something back and say Thank you. My most heartfelt thank you is to my foster carers. You found me, set me on the right path, and stayed with me. You were my significant adults, and you gave me my future. Thank you, and I will always love you, xx.
Children go into care for so many reasons. Sadly, many children have suffered trauma and abuse, and foster carers will make a significant difference in their lives. Children need time, love, and patience to flourish. When they do, as B has shown, they reach greater heights than they ever imagined possible!
If you want information about becoming a foster carer with a Not-for-Profit Charity, contact me on the form below. There’s no cost or commitment, just honest advice on the fostering role and a pathway to fostering with a Not for Profit.
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children in care; Can you foster?