Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mrs. W - a personal account of a childhood in care

Attention - some images and text in this blog post may upset those people living in denial that child abuse and youth suicide exist

I was born January 1977, that makes me just over 34 today (april 2011).  In the 70's there was not much room in society for single mum's so there was alot of abortion's or fostered out children in those times. My life started out a little lucky, I was born into an already large family of my mum still at home with her Mum n Dad and 3 sisters and one brother, so I had a Nan n Pop and 3 aunties, 1 uncle and we all lived under the one roof.  Life was great, even though I don't remember my Mum much at that stage - my Nan was always there for me she was never a particularly cuddly women but neither was my mum!  So I was used to a distance in that way but my Nan somehow by just being there for me-always - it was like a cuddle.  Dinner was at the same time EVERY night so was bath and bed - there was such a strict routine it hugged me like a blanket! 

I remember kinder and I remember Nan and I remember the family dog and sometimes I remember my aunties n my uncle-I struggle to remember my mum..
Even though we shared the same room together-she used to come home very late at night I was already tucked up fast asleep.  It wasn't until I was' around 13 my Nan would re-call stories that made her cry, she said when my mum walked in the door, I would run for a cuddle...but she used to push me away...maybe it's lucky I don't have these memories, for my sake.

My mum had a few boyfriends, but one guy stuck, when I was 8 yrs old, I was introduced to "Bill", he was an overweight, stocky, short man - not  particularity attractive, with those scary tinted glasses - when he came to the door to take my mum on a "date" I do remember getting a "chill" I did not like him from the moment I met him!  But Mum must have seen something in him, a few mnths later they were married, and I was whisked away with her to live with him, less than 6mnths later my step brother was born (you do the math!)

While all this was going on un-be-known to me - "Bill" was legally adopting me, so I now carried his surname, also they took over the local Cake shop,  things (on the outset) looked rosy for my Mum...but that was not the reality, the following is quiet a chilling but brief account of my next 4 yrs within this family unit....take a breathe  (me too), and...lets go......

While business was strong, we had a life plentiful, we ate out nearly every night (which suited mum as she could not cook), we could have anything we wanted.
And my mum did - she had drinks on tap - yes she became an alcoholic-almost overnight (to me anyway), her judgment was blurred - she became extremely abusive to me and I now became my step brothers carer - I was just over 8.5 but had to grow up over night, I was changing nappies, feeding him, bathing him, because my mum either couldn't or she didn't want to, all I remember my baby brother eating at one stage was custard - I did not know what else to give him-know one told me-I did what I I also grew to resent him-something I regret, even to this day!

While my mum was drinking scotch for breakfast lunch and dinner- my new "dad" paid alot more attention to me-something that was new to me and as I was having a particularly tough time with my mum, I was coerced into spending alot more time with him. He showered me with attention -which was something new to me, and turned me against my mum who now had resorted to withholding me my breakfast as I had to clean the house every morning-top to bottom, before school, so I had to wake by 6am, feed and clean my baby brother-who sensed the stress by this point he started to eat holes through his blankets, then I had to vacuum, mop, scrub the whole house- EVERY morning before school, so my first meal would usually be lunch-maybe a packet of chips and a big M from the canteen. 

Anyway  the alcohol she inhaled everyday almost all day turned my mum into a monster, she would beat me endlessly either with her fist, the vacuum cleaner steel rod, a wooden spoon and once she came at me with a kitchen knife, it was now official - I did now also resent my mother.  So "Bill" pounced, I had to work in the family business, I worked after school every day AND I was forced to go in to work 5am Sat morning, just with him...alone, a good 3 hrs before any staff were due to start - that's when it started...

"Bill" by the end, had raped me for over 4 yrs, he used more than his personal bits to do so-anything that was lying around would suffice, there was one time I saw some remorse in him, it was one particular time he made me bleed...I ran and hid, he never came to find me - now this stuff is very hard to talk about so I am skimming over lots, but I have not to my sadness forgotten much at all, it still feels like yesterday-at times-especially now-now that I have children of my own.

My once sheltered life with my Nan had now been ripped from me, I was whisked away, adopted, and then raped and abused, physically, mentally and emotionally by both my mother and my step dad, but I found a way out When I was 12, my school had a "say no" seminar. 

That day I found out all about what's right and what's wrong and what was happening to me was VERY WRONG!  I did a runner I was found by my best friend and her mum. They took me to their house, I told my story and they rang CSV.  So in one day I went to school just like any other day, but all this unfolded there after, and before the school bell rang I was taken by CSV back to my locker to collect my things - kicking and screaming I was taken to a country police station

And now I just remember sitting in a corner of the police station with just the clothes on my back hugging a bear a constable gave me (I called it "Dakin" :) ) and much later again - I was taken to my first ever  foster home to later spend another 3 weeks there - it was not the saddest time of my life being taken out of home - but it was the scariest. 

I begged them to take me back home even though I knew what would await me there - I just wanted to go back home-to what I knew-the untold future that awaited me, frightened the hell out of me!  I was so frightened of what my mum would do to me once she had me back home-that I begged to go back-they would not and  could not take me back they said-so I cried for days not believing them when they said I will never be back home-I thought my mum will find a way to get to me somehow-someway!  I knew how much she hated me-resented me!  This was sure to take her over the edge!

Now in a turn of fate, while I was staying at my new foster home-completely miserable, crying and alone...a call came-it was for me they tell me it's my "Pop" - I couldn't beleive it!  But it was true, while I was in my foster home - my "parents" were interviewed and charged - my mum fessed up to the police and so did he- and only a bit was said to my Pop, but it was enough, he found me and I was now back with my Nan and my Pop-life was good again........for just a little while.

Before I turned 13 my Pop took very ill, I had to go-they couldn't keep me-I ended up in a youth Hostel in Melb's North, I was on my own-with new faces, new issues, new problems. The one thing that I did have from all this was, I was back to where I came from - I had some friends I had known and we met back up again-one of them was my now current husband who I love with all my heart and always have-my one-
and only true love!  

This hostel was very different for me-we had a live in family-but they looked after sometimes up to 6 of us at a time-plus their own kids too, there was kids that came and went like a revolving door - but there were some like me who stayed on for years then were old enough to move on, one of the "stayer's was "Trevor" he, like all of us there had an awful childhood, he was abused by family
and pretty much neglected.

I got on with my life pretty much I got a p/t job to earn money so I could have nice things (but I was also still at school), now Trevor was one of the ones who decided he'd use his time at the hostel by dropping out of school, running a muck-causing a bit of grief for all of us - we had lots of "group meetings" but he couldn't stick to the rules - he used to escape through his window at night, we had a curfew-but he didn't listen.

The boys got to sleep altogether in one room, they used to play up all hrs of the night, they were in the next room to me-we were never aloud locks on our doors for our own safety -they used to tell us-but when the boys kept escaping they put window locks on all windows - that didn't stop "Trevor".  

See he was like a puppy that just needed a cuddle and some acknowledgment at times - when he didn't get that-he would do silly things - one night (after much a strange smell wafting from the boys room-yes drugs) he tapped on my window in the wee hrs of the morn - I yelled at him to go away, he said he had something to show me - so I crawled out of bed and go to the front yard - well he had stolen a car and was very pleased with himself so much that he had to show me - much like a puppy brings a bone to show his owner, I said he was crazy-and going to get in big trouble-he just laughed at me, jumped in the car and sped off running straight through a roundabout and on the wrong side of the road!

All was quiet again for a bit, but then weeks later, "Trevor" asks me for a razor - I was suspicious and asked him why-but he assured me just to "shave" - he looked scruffy so I said "OK, use mine but I want to see it when your done!"  

Well, I had gone to bed, and later I awake to find him standing over me with wrists out - I turn on the light with a find he had slit both wrists so badly that blood was spurting out and sprayed his face, I nearly fainted but my brain said "save him"!  

So I grabbed both his wrists and ran with him upstairs to get our, the carer and "Trevor" went to the hospital-me still holding his wrists as tight as I could in the back seat, we got to the hospital-and he came up with some lame excuse that it was an accident-but because he lied the Hospital staff wouldn't treat him!!!???  I am still amazed at this, even today-they turned us away!  But Trevor needed stitches!  It didn't matter-we didn't matter or he didn't matter - after long hrs of arguing and back n forth with the hosp...we went home-he was shattered!  We all were. 

He was kept up stairs with the carers that night-then all I can remember one night-a few weeks later, our carers sat us down-minus Trevor. we asked where was" Trevor" - they said he had been taken by police, he has stolen another car-this time got caught-and he had caused an accident, he was charged and placed in youth detention.  Life kinda was still after that-see "Trevor" was cheeky and naughty - but he was still just a boy-and he did crave what we all do, that is someone to love us-but he chased it in all the wrong ways

...6mnths later, just as I was starting to wonder about "Trevor", we were sat down again by our carers - this time was different - this was no usual house meeting-the air was grim, and after a long pause our carers spoke - they told us......
the reason we haven't been able to get onto "Trevor" lately is, "he was found dead - they say it was suicide"................

And so that was that - I can't remember what we all did that night- or what we said there after - all I know is we were all extremely sad - even though my life and the peoples around me in that house had encountered some things that would shock the pants off your regular citizen - this bit of news pretty much took the cake for a lot of us - it was a huge thing to be in your early teens going through -what we're been through-to then hear one of your house mates is dead-that was a first for me, and a very sad one at that.

After a few years we all took our leave one way or the other from this Hostel, I kept working, left school at end of year 10, work and earning money was more important for me than study, just so I could buy things and have nice clothes n buy a car - I did all of that - so did many of my ex-Hostel house mates-we all found our path eventually - even though our road wasn't paved as much as other kids our age - it had its fair share of bumps and pot holes - but we got through.

Here's to holding your head high, believing in yourself and remembering it's never too late to become what you might have been.

Mrs. W
(names and dates have been changed to protect people)

I would like to thank Mrs. W, for her honest account of just some of the things that have happened in her life. She wrote this post herself, which as far as I'm concerned was a very brave thing to do. I began to edit it, but decided that the way it was written came from a very personal place and it reads as such. I hope this brings some light to someone's life who has struggled with similar issues. Mrs. W, now has a loving husband and family of her own.... des.


Jot said...

Mrs W, I wanted to thanks you for sharing your heartbreaking story. It can't have been easy for you. I'm so glad life has worked out for you in the end (with a lot of hard work on your part!) and wishing you all the best for the future. xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs W, I am speechless. I grew up in an alcoholic family and we endured physical and mental abuse however, we didn't have to endure the sexual abuse that you did. I hear children go through this but doesn't make it easier to read a story such as yours. It brought tears to my eyes and it breaks my heart any child would have to endure this. It also makes me angry! You are a very strong and inspirational woman to pick yourself up and move into your future. You must be so proud of yourself! thank you for sharing your story.

Lynn O said...

I began life in a loving & caring family, after my mother died & my father remarried it wall went pear shaped, physical & emotional abuse, leading ultimately in threats to kill. Though rounds of friends & aquaintances were my carers, I also eventually got it together. The biggest thing I have learned is even when you can't forget you have to find some way to forgive, though that can take a lifetime, & get on with it. My heart goes out to all those still suffering & pray that they too will be able to find some peace

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