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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

It was May 2012 when I first met him, I was 14 and he was 16. I had spoken to him for a little while before meeting him. He had sent me a friend request on Facebook and I accepted. We got talking to each other and not long after we got talking, we arranged to meet up.

He didn’t look like the kind of person who I would be interested in, but the first day that I met him, he seemed different to what I thought he was going to be like, he was so lovely and we had a laugh and just clicked. Anyways, that day was over and I went home but continued to talk to him and meet him .

After a few months of being together we ended up with each other’s Facebook passwords but at that time I thought this was a normal thing to do. Not long after, he began to go on my Facebook quite often until it turned into him being on it every day.

We often bickered with each other about past relationships and I think he used to make me jealous a lot of the time by talking about his ex-girlfriends to me and used to tell me about his sexual relationships with people, which I didn’t care about but he wanted to tell me anyways.

There was one day when he told me it was over because I had apparently been speaking to one of his friends, which I hadn’t. Anyways we had sorted things out that night, but a week or so later he had finished with me for good, telling me it wasn’t my fault which I obviously felt like it was. We ended up getting back together and things were fine for a while, or what I thought was fine, but he still constantly checked my Facebook. All of the above happened in the first 6 months of our relationship.

In February 2013 I was late on my period but I didn’t think anything of it at that point. He kept going on at me to take a pregnancy test and I didn’t want to but it finally got the point where I felt like I needed to. I went to savers on my way to school one morning and just bought a cheap test from there. I went to school and took it just as my first lesson was starting. When I seen the 2 lines come up on the test, I had never felt so scared in my entire life.

I went to his that night and told him and showed him the test. He seemed happy. I went home that night and told my mam, who just sat in tears. I was her 15 year old daughter, still at school who come home and told her she was pregnant.

The day of my scan I received a horrible message from him telling me that he wasn’t coming and that it was all my fault because I didn’t give him the money for this fare. I just sat there and cried and thought to myself how could he possibly do this to me, how could he miss seeing our child for the very first time. I felt like it was all my fault for not giving him the money to come to the hospital. He wasn’t very supportive at all throughout my pregnancy, he never gave me any money to get anything for our child, I had to rely on my mam for everything which I shouldn’t have had to. He would have rather spent every penny he got on the drugs which he took.

When our daughter was born, he still didn’t support me. He stayed at mine with us for a few days then told me he was going to see his dad as he hadn’t seen him for a while, but he never came back and he told me that it was because he was too “off his face” to come back and see us.

There was one time when my daughter got to about 4/5 months old, when they start to pull hair like any normal child does. She grabbed my hair and I said “ouch”, joking with her and he slapped her in the head and told her not to do that because it was naughty and that she should learn not to do things like that. Another time, I wanted to go to the shop and X didn’t want me to; I was getting my daughter strapped into her pram and he come storming through and pinned me up against the wall. I hadn’t got the chance to strap my daughter in properly and she ended up falling out of her pram, to which X decided it was all my fault and that I had hurt her and that I was a horrible mam for doing that to her.

He used to think that I fancied one of the lads who worked at the shop next to his, so every time I went I constantly got accused of things, even if I was only 5 minutes. My life was constantly like this. He used to have people watching my every move. I would get messages when I was out shopping saying that he knows where I am and what I’m doing and things. I began to realise that he was making my life an absolute nightmare. He used to make me think that I hadn’t been paid as much money as what I should have, because he would go to the cash point and take money out and then come back and tell me that there was only a certain amount that had been put into my bank. We used to finish quite a lot but I felt like I couldn’t be without him.

It got to the point where I knew that this wasn’t right. I used to have to go without food for days just to make sure that my daughter got fed as he wouldn’t give me any money for food. He used to lock me in his bedroom so I couldn’t go anywhere. He would lock me in his house and take my daughter from me.

There was a time that  he decided to go through my phone messages from years back and he didn’t take to them very kindly. He told me to come in his bedroom where he decided to pin me down and begin to hit me. I thought he was going to kill me! His dad must have heard my screams and come running in and pulled him off me, but I didn’t get no comfort from his dad, all he said was “come on son, she’s not worth the lock up charge”. I was horrified. I still forgave him after this until I finally had to give up on our relationship.

I still allowed him to see my daughter, which wasn’t a constant thing as he just picked and chose when he wanted her. One day I picked her up from his house and she fell asleep in my arms because he had made her so drowsy from the cannabis that he had been smoking round her.

I’d seen my health visitor the next day and she told me not to take her back and got in touch with social services, who said that my daughter was not allowed back to that address. He went off it with me for a while and I used to get abusive messages all of the time but I just blocked him on everything and he finally gave up. He’s now seen our child once in the space of 2 and a half year and I don’t really think he cares.

When my daughter was stopped from seeing him was when I got in touch with Claire and Hollie. At first I was so nervous to do the course as I didn’t know what to expect but they were so lovely. Hollie was my main worker, I used to meet her every Wednesday and we would do some work in her car. She taught me about healthy relationships, and how X’s mind was working while he was doing these things to me. I explained to her that when he used to physically hurt me, it never used to bother me, it was the mental torture he put me through which hurt me more than anything. Although there won’t ever be any excuse for what he done to me, I got some sort of sense as to what was going on in his head to why he used to do it. Hollie and Claire both made me see what went wrong and I can’t thank them enough for the work which they done with me because I now know the signs to look out for in case this should happen again. My head was messed up when I was finally free from him and Hollie and Claire helped to fix me. They’ve inspired me to train to do what they do or something along them lines.

I am studying hard at college to get where I want to be, I have my own home and 2 beautiful children to be proud of so I’m glad I got away when I did because I would hate to think where I would be if I didn’t. I think it is so important that anyone in the same situation or similar should speak to a service like this before it’s too late and I hope my story can inspire others to speak out!

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