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survivors manchester

I Owe It To Myself


by Lee

I am a 37 year old guy who lives in Manchester; the life I live today is very far removed from the person I used to be. In fact most people who meet me today would never know the life I have lived and what I have been through to get to where I am at present.

Which is I am pleased to say is finally where I feel it should be, happy and settled in a strong & supportive relationship with someone who understands me & what I have been through, we are both proud of the fact that I am still here to tell the tale.

I was born in 1975 to young mother who when was 2 put me and my 1 year old brother into care, I haven’t seen my bother since. He was adopted I was left, as I put it, on the shelf, in foster care which is where thing went from bad to worse.

Now I don’t remember when things started, I do know that when I was about 11 things were happening that I didn’t like and didn’t want to be happening involving my then foster father, Harry who I have since learned abused not only myself but also at various points all of the other 6 foster children that I grew up with.

At this point I knew I didn’t want this to be happening, but as an 11 year old I had no idea what I could to stop it, I tried to not go to his room, tried to ignore him when he came into mine just hoping that he would go away, he never did. Time went on and beatings got more severe as I refused to go to him.

My time in school was difficult, although I loved going to school I always caused trouble when I was there, I never bunked off, I wanted to be in school, I just couldn’t help but cause trouble, I beat lads up in class, hit teachers and was generally a nuisance. All through this no one ever asked me what was wrong, why was I behaving like this? I was in all the top sets, was very bright lad who came to school everyday, why was I behaving like this?

I was angry and I now know hoping that someone would work it out, they didn’t, in fact I never spoke to anyone about IT, until much later in life. Before long my violent behaviour got much worse, I ran away when I was 14, moved in with other foster parents who did the best they could, I dread to think what I would have done but for them, they started to mend some of the damage that had been done but they just didn’t know the full extent of what had happened, no one did because I couldn’t talk about it.

At 17 and living in my own flat, out drinking every night and still looking for fights, someway of getting rid of the anger, this lead to 2 lengthy prison sentences, by the time I was 20 I had been given an 18 month and a 3 year sentence. It was during sentencing that my barrister asked me why I was behaving the way I was, it was the first time anyone had, it got me thinking.

I sought out counselling whilst in prison, I had 15 months of weekly 1 to 1 sessions to unpick what had happened, to help me realise it wasn’t my fault, why I felt the way I did, why someone would do that to a kid, most importantly I realised that I was still a victim, by allowing what happened to destroy my life I was continuing the cycle of abuse, it helped a lot and I haven’t offended since. That said there were still some issues, I still had mood swings, smoked a stupid amount of weed, I couldn’t talk about issues without blowing my lid and found it tough to speak to new people, I convinced myself it was acceptable given what I had been through. You see smoking weed stopped the nightmares, but it also compounded the anger and inability to talk things through or to talk to knew people. I had replaced one issue with another, replaced the uncontrollable anger with weed, it was as if I had wrapped myself up in a weed bubble and just let life pass on by.

A year ago things changed, I was about to lose my partner because of weed, my crutch, in the end I was left with a choice; choose a life or choose to stay in my bubble. I chose life and stopped smoking weed. Changed career, from recruitment to work with ex-offenders, hoping to help guys like me, this is when I met We Are Survivors as I needed a service for my clients, little did I know at the time that it would be me who benefited most from this meeting.

Since working with We Are Survivors, I am not alone in saying this, I am like new man, I finally feel NORMAL (what ever that is) what happened to me was wrong and not normal, my reaction to it was pretty normal, how do you deal with being abused as a child? What are the right things to do?

In essence what I have learned is that I cannot change what happened, it happened, it wasn’t my fault and I couldn’t have done anything about it, I was a child, it was down to other people to protect me, they failed, not me. All I can do is make sure that the rest of my life is the best it can possibly be, I OWE IT TO MYSELF!!

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