For years, my family have been torn apart by the repercussions of domestic violence. For the past few months, I’ve been struggling to accept the reality of our situation. It’s 11 years on, and I often feel like a failure because I still feel no closure after everything that has happened.
When I was at school, teachers that were aware of what was going on would tell me that one day I would end up writing a book or doing something positive with my own experience. As the years have progressed, this has become harder and harder to motivate myself towards. I have had numerous conversations with social work regarding my concerns, written a lot of letters and even started a petition at one point. Each time, I have been pushed back or made to feel like a crazy and traumatised child. I am an adult now, but after being silenced and ignored so many times, it has become harder and harder to fight back and I have questioned my own sanity over the years.
The title of this blog – 1,031,120 – is the number of domestic violence incidents reported in England and Wales during 2016. Just ONE year. I’m always uncomfortable sharing personal things, but when there’s a chance to make a difference and bring about change by telling a story I think that’s more important than my own fears. Some of you might remember a petition I created years ago, I must have only been about 14/15 at the time. My brother, sister and I were placed into the care of my grandmother after living in a home of domestic violence for several years. I started a petition because social work wanted to send my brother and sister back to live with my mother and her partner as they said they had no evidence the violence was still ongoing. The reason they had no evidence it was still ongoing is because my mum was under his control and would cover up what was really happening and I had hoped they would listen to my concerns and acknowledge the risk in sending my extremely young brother and sister back to live in this home. I was thrilled when my petition gained 1495 signatures and a lot of support from the public and messages from people opening up to me with similar experiences.
Sadly, social work ignored my petition and I was told that I could be in trouble with the police for my petition if I didn’t take it down and shortly afterwards social work went through with their decision to send them back to live with my mother and my violent step-dad. As a young teenager it took a lot of courage to speak out and I think having my concerns ignored by professionals for years and years has made me more fearful of speaking out as an adult and eventually I lost faith in social work’s ability to protect children.
Sadly, earlier on this year it was revealed that the violence has in fact continued on for years. However, my mum finally made the choice to leave my step-dad and charge him for everything he has done. The police have had the polar opposite approach of social work. Now there is a chance he may go to prison for the things he has done.
I think it speaks volumes about the system that the police can hear about the horrible things this man has done and think there is a chance he could be locked up because he is a dangerous man whereas the social work department seen a suitable home for children. Their decision to send them back allowed this violence to continue on in the presence of my younger brother and sister for years. It’s time the social work department stop playing happy families and putting their targets/budget before the well-being of the children they are supposed to protect.
The whole system is a disgrace and it has taken a lot of courage to share this story but I hope if enough people speak out then it will bring about change and encourage people who have been in similar circumstances to speak out and get angry until it can’t be ignored. If you see/hear something that makes you worry about somebody’s wellbeing then don’t ignore it – report it to somebody. Things can’t go on like this.
I am hoping by starting this blog and sharing my own concerns and experiences over the years, I may not only raise awareness and help someone else but may find some closure through writing about it.
I would also like to mention Laura Beveridge who is doing a great deal to expose the flaws inside the care system and how it causes more damage than good. Please share this story and share your own stories until the system is sorted and keep updated on this blog.