I am not alone in surviving abuse. This is my story of my abusive life and how that abuse affected my life.
I was glad to be back at the Hall as I had fond memories of being there years previous. For the first time I felt that I was going to be safe and protected from anymore abuse of any kind. My time at the Hall, away from the violence and the constant threat of abuse, should have meant an improvement in my life, that did not happen. Mr Jack, a little, wiry, strong, Scottish man, who ran the hall with his wife, a frightened, timid looking woman, made sure my life was going to be very difficult.
Mr Jack's breath always smelt of whiskey and I often thought he was drunk. Even though he was a small man, we kids were afraid of him. We knew, or we thought we knew, that this man had the power to get us sent to a detention centre. My biggest fear at that time was to be locked in a cell and Jack knew it. He used threats to frighten us and used our vulnerabilities to keep us under control. Jack was another example of abusive staff working for the Social services and the child protection services. He was abusive to us all and we did not believe that we had the power, as children, to do anything about his abusive ways.
Jack would make the older girls lie on their back while he sat astride them, pretending to tickle them. I have seen girls crying whilst he was doing this to them but he just carried on, as if it was all just a bit of fun. I felt he was a pervert and told him that if he ever came near me and tried sitting on me, I would report him to the Social Services. 'Then you will lose your job!' I said. Jack came right up to my face, with his whiskey breath, ‘You do that lassie, and I promised ye I will come back for ye’. I was a cocky little girl and acted tough, but he scared me that day. I knew it would be his word against mine and who would believe me, no one ever had.
Living In Fear
One night I was laid in bed when I heard one of the boys in the home, screaming as if in agony. I was terrified! I heard the boy crying ‘Please don’t Mr Jack’, 'No Mr Jack, no! Over and over he cried. I lay in bed for a couple of minutes, too afraid to move. I imagined Mr Jack was killing one of the lads and then would be coming for me. I knew we were too far out in the country to run for help. In those days mobile phones did not exist. The only phone we could use was down in the village and it was a fair way to run in the dark. I was really scared and did not know what to do. Eventually, I plucked up courage to go and see what was happening. Mr Jack had this lad, a big lad for his age, on his knees and in tears with his arm twisted up his back. Mr Jack had a demented grin on his face as he twisted this lads arm further up his back. The lad screamed again. ‘Mr Jack, you’re breaking my arm’! I could not bear to hear him cry so I stormed into the room, ‘Gerrof him’! I shouted, acting much braver than I felt. I told Mr Jack to let the boy go or I would phone the police. ‘Aye lassie, you do that, call them and then we will find out who the thief is in here, won’t we?' he said, as he gave the lads arm another yank, setting him off screaming again. He claimed that one of the lads, and he had three of them, all sat in a row on the living room floor, had stolen money from the office, and he was going to find out the truth, one way or another. Then I was scared for all them and for myself so I shut up for a minute. All the teenagers in that home had stolen ten or twenty pence from that office at some point or other, including myself. We sneaked in the office whenever we got the opportunity, to take just enough for ten fags, which we then shared with each other. I could not risk Mr Jack, phoning the police and getting one of them arrested, ‘It was me, I took the money’, I said. I took the blame for money going missing so that he would let go of this lad, who was sobbing with pain and fear. Mr Jack made me stand in front of these teenage boys with nothing on but a flimsy nightdress. I knew, from the position they were sitting, they could see my naked body showing through the flimsy material that covered nothing. The lads just sat with their heads bowed and tried to save me from the shame, humiliation and embarrassment that I was feeling as I stood there. Eventually, Jack said, 'Ye all grounded for the month', and let us go to bed.
I lived in fear after that night because I knew Jack could kill me and claim I had run away.
Rat Infested Barn
I hated Jack and could not bear to be in the same building. I ran away constantly and as usual the police always brought me back to the home, to Mr Jack. The police would give me a stern telling off for wasting police time by running away. No body ever bothered to ask why I was always running away when I had such a lovely home to live in because nobody cared enough to ask.
I would rather sleep in a field or an old scary rat infested barn than stay in the same building as Jack. I was too afraid of reporting him or telling anyone what he was doing to us for fear of them not believing me. I just spent my life in a constant state of severe stress. Although I was extremely angry, I kept my anger bottled up. Often I would hurt myself by cutting myself or rubbing the skin off the back of my hand until I was raw. Hurting myself released some of my pent up frustration. After that the self harming got worse and I was cutting myself and hurting myself a lot because I felt like I was trapped with no way out.
Jack The Pervert
Mr Jack had me worked out. He knew I was vulnerable and scared. He had me believing that I had no rights while I was in his care. I could not even have a bath in privacy. He said he had rights to come into the bathroom when I was in the bath, to check on what I was doing. I believed him. He did come in the bathroom when I was in the bath, as I suspected he would. He was not too happy that I was sat in the bath with a big towel round me. He tried to make me take it off but I refused. He tried other ways to intimidate and humiliate me, knowing I would be too scared to tell. Jack had me in his office giving me a lecture for wasting police time and I acted like I was not interested in anything he had to say. I chewed on a piece of chewing gum whilst he spoke and I made sure I appeared as disrespectful as I felt. Jack grabbed me between my legs. With force he almost entered me with his fingers and my reaction was to raise up on my toes to get away from him, but had a tight hold. Determined not to be intimidated by him, I stood up on my toes and glared at him. I hated him with a vengeance for how he made me feel. I needed a distraction to take my mind of Jack and got one in the form of Barry.
Barry was brought in to the home on a court order although I did not know why at the time. He was handsome and strong and I was distracted by him. I could not keep my eyes off him and neither could the other girls. I acted like I did not find him attractive, although looking back it was blatantly obvious that I did. I laughed at his bandy legs. 'Have you lost your horse or summat?' I would shout after him as he walked down the drive with a girl in tow. I did not realise it then but I was jealous. I did not think I was worthy enough or good enough to warrant any kind of attention, never mind attention from the good looking Barry. I got his attention though and in a short time we were declaring our love for each other when I did not even know what the word 'love' meant.
Barry and I were no more than desperate kids looking for a bit of comfort in this world. We were both damaged in our own ways and ill equipped mentally to deal with a relationship. His background, like my own and a lot of the kids in the home, was one of abuse. We were thrown together in mutual neediness. At the time it felt that, for the first time in my life, I had the best there was to have, and it felt good. Girls were jealous that I had Barry and they would tell me so. I even caught other girls in the home, with photographs of Barry in their purse's.
I realise now that at fourteen we were much too young to be in a serious relationship. I was in too deep before I realised that Barry had problems, something was amiss. He would just flip out when he got mad at me, start making cat noises and doing his hero, Bruce Lee, karate moves whilst staring at me. At first, I was frightened because I thought there was something mentally wrong with him, but was too immature and confused to realise to run in the opposite direction, as far away from Barry as I could get.
Soon after we started courting Barry started giving me the odd slap around the face for talking or looking at other people. He was extremely possessive but I did not see that as a red flag and the punches soon followed. Looking back, I can see that I chose to ignore the warnings signs that Barry was dangerous. I was too desperate for love and comfort to give him up.
Mr Jack seemed to be intimidated by Barry too because he stopped all his abusive antics and went unusually quiet, except for one time. One day Jack opened his mouth and said, 'Wouldn't it be funny if Barry was initiated into the Cubley Hall Club?' Initiation would include every one in the home, slapping the victim on the bare back as hard as possible and then dropping them into a cold bath. The little ones thought that would be great fun. I thought Mr Jack was a very sick and twisted man. I could not stop them and they, especially Mr Jack, slapped Barry so hard it looked like he would bleed and then squealing with excitement, they all picked Barry up and threw him into a cold bath. Barry went along with all this nonsense but I could see that he was seething with anger. Later, I had to make Barry promise me that he would not murder Jack in his bed. Fortunately, Mr Jack left soon after this incident and it was really a good job he did go when he did otherwise he would have been in danger from Barry. I don't know what happened to Mr Jack but one day he was there and the next he was gone and we never saw him again. No one told us where he had gone, or why. His replacement was Mr Yardly, or John, as we were allowed to call him.
Learning To Trust
John was a large built, hairy man with a big Roman nose. Initially, I felt intimidated by him because of his massive size. I had an instant mistrust of him because I knew that he could overpower me if he wanted to. I trusted no one and Jack had proven to me that no one was trustworthy. I was soon to learn that there are truly loving and trusting people on this planet and John was one of the first that I learnt to truly trust.
- A Life Worth Living; Chapter One
Born into a violent home, I was given last rites within hours of my birth. My first day of life was a battle to survive and there were more battles of survival to come. This is my journey of survival.
- A Life Worth Living; Chapter Twelve
Dad beat me unconscious and said I was a slut and whore. At the age of thirteen, I was just his slave, cooking and cleaning and taking care of him was my role. He sexually abused me and then I knew I could never trust him again.
- A Life Worth Living. Chapter Thirteen
I thought returning to the Hall would be the end of all the abuse. I was wrong. Mr Jack was a drunken abusive bully and there was no escaping him.
- A Life Worth Living. Chapter Fourteen.
I learnt to respect and to trust someone but it did not last. Introduced to the power of writing, I wrote about my internalised pain and felt better for doing so but then the choice to write was taken away. At the age of sixteen I was on my own and b