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The following story is one of several accounts shared with us by a group of young people; all have experienced domestic abuse and have been supported by the Ypvas working at the Young People Violence Advisor (Ypva) Service in South Tyneside. They have shared their individual stories to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the hope that victims and services will be inspired to make change. For an audio version of this blog, visit our Soundcloud profile or scroll to the bottom of the page. 

*Names have been changed to protect identities

Everything couldn’t have been more perfect, like a normal close family. I was the youngest sibling, I had an older sister and brother, my mam and her partner. My mam’s partner was controlling with my mam and he used to throw her around and chuck cups and objects at her. I hated him.

When I was 11 my mam tragically passed away due to cardio-myopathy. She had a heart transplant 6 and a half years before this that helped prolong her life but she knew her time was due to leave us. When my mam was gone, he instantly took control and tried to tell me and my sister what to do, such as cleaning the house, ironing and washing the dishes. My sister acted as my mam for a while but she couldn’t take it anymore.  He got into a relationship not even 4 weeks after my mam passed away. She was a druggy just like him.

My sister left home and she went into foster care and I was left with my brother. My brother and I were close but he always used to just hide away in his bedroom so I couldn’t really talk to him. I eventually started running away from home and I would be with my sister. My last attempt running away I was with my sister at her foster carers home - I was there for 2 nights and then I got a placement just down the road from her. I was happy to be near my sister.

This is when I met him.  Me and him had never spoke but my sister had a fancy for him and I used to think he was ugly. Anyhow time moved on, I was happy and content at my placement and still saw my sister every day. Me and him  were just like normal, acting like brother and sister. As time grew, me and I started getting closer and I felt like I could open up to him. He was like my protector if you like. My sister had her new boyfriend so we did still see a lot of each other but we started having our separate days too. I remember being at school on a dinner and I asked my good friend a very strange question. I said “do you think it’s normal to have feelings for someone who you live with in the same home?” Obviously she couldn’t understand my situation but she told me “just go and find out and see if your feelings are real”. When I went home that night I messaged him and I told him how I felt and he replied - he said he liked me too.

I was happy with how the outcome was and we had a secret relationship. I was 14 when I got with him and he was 17 heading on 18. Things were great and nervous because we sneaked around for a while. One day we got caught together and my foster carer knew exactly what was going on. He got kicked out and he went to supported accommodation and I moved into another foster placement the following year due to my foster carer, having lung cancer. Me and him were then open about our relationship. Everything was perfect. I got settled at my new foster carer’s and I loved my new family.  He moved into his own flat so we had our own space too.

About four months after he moved, things just changed. I never noticed at the time. I used to act like his mother for ages and the arguing was constant. He was always out and in debt with drug dealers or locked up - it was quite crazy. He just changed. I blamed myself for a long time thinking it was my fault. Things only got worse. I fell pregnant at 16 years, as soon as I left school. He was happy at first, but it didn’t take long until he was saying it wasn’t his and calling me names and just generally “griefing” me every day.

I moved into my own flat in supported accommodation due to my age, and I didn’t have a lot of support with baby. I pretended everything was ok. One day when I had baby, he never helped with anything but gave me grief and always putting me down. I physically and emotionally couldn’t take it anymore so I cried to the staff, telling them everything that had been going on for years. He always told lies and used to pretend he was going to kill himself so I would run back to him.

Time went on and I got out of the relationship and I met the YPVA Service and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I have an excellent bond with the staff and I got support with court orders and much more! I can’t thank them enough….

After 1 and a half years in supported accommodation, I got to go and move into my very own home with my baby. I couldn’t be happier. I no long have any contact with him and I am focussing on my career for me and my baby.

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Keep an eye on our Spotlight page for more information and resources around supporting young people experiencing domestic abuse.