My earliest memory was when I was 2 and my mum broke my leg. She used to beat me a lot. After my dad died I remember my mum with lots of men - boyfriend after boyfriend. When I was 13, my mum’s boyfriend raped me. He threatened to kill me if I told anyone and that the other kids would go into care. That is why I didn’t say anything and the abuse went on for years until I was 16. My life was terrible. I wasn’t allowed out, I wasn’t allowed to have friends and I was regularly beaten. I wasn’t even allowed to go to school. That’s why I don’t have an education.
That was when I ran away from home. But then I got married, at the age of 17. Charlie raped me on our wedding night. That year I gave birth to my son, and then 15 months later I had another son. By this time my husband Charlie was very possessive of me. He would rape me most nights. He treated me like a piece of meat. Having been brought up as a child like that, I thought it was normal. By the time I had four sons, things were really bad. I didn’t have any money or friends.
One night eight years ago the police arrested Charlie on allegations of being a paedophile. My family disowned me because my sister accused him of abusing her grandchildren. The police confiscated my daughter’s laptop and found all his child pornography pictures on there. He was found guilty. One day I went to visit him and I told him that I wanted a divorce. I couldn’t cope anymore. He said that it wasn’t necessary and that we were getting by. And I suddenly realised that I don’t want to get by anymore. I just wanted to break free from him. I did divorce him though. I was 51 years old.
About a year after I got divorced, I came here to do the LITE course. And I also started going to the Life Recovery Group. I did things on the LITE course that I never did in my life. Like climbing and building huts. Being on LITE has given me the confidence to do things that I didn’t think I could do. I can do things now.
Seeing people be loving and kind to each other was freaky for me. But the more I came here the more I thought I could also have this life. It gives me the confidence that I need. I also love the Friday women’s group here when we do Bible study.
Crisis Centre is the family I never had. Jonnie, the Wild Goose manager, is my big brother, Val, the Spring of Hope manager, is the mother I never had – loving and kind. Receiving and seeing the love in this place I have realised that God is real. And also since I’ve known God, my life has changed. I know that when I am fighting something, He is there. God, the Wild Goose, Val, the people here have made it all possible. It’s like I’ve been given a new start in life. I now have a new family who love and care for me. And if I have any struggles I can come here and they won’t judge me. It’s amazing. Life is exciting now. I want to be a support worker to help others like me.
I don’t want to live in the past, I didn’t want to just exist. I want to live. My life is getting stronger and better.