Childhood domestic abuse and addiction, Carla’s story #16Days

Childhood domestic abuse

Carla* has experienced domestic abuse throughout her lifetime and so many traumatic experiences. Carla started using drugs at the age of 15, her mum was a drug user and had first introduced her to this lifestyle. She was placed into care and also spent time living with her nan as a child and went back to live with her mum at the age of 12. Carla’s mum became involved with a man who was 27-years-old when Carla was 14 who led her to experience things that no child should ever experience. He abused her and her sister and forced them to work on the streets for money, promising that he wouldn’t make her carry out sexual acts but never helping her when the moment came. Carla was drugged by this man with heroine as a teenager and saw such brutality from an early age. Because he was a friend of Carla’s mum she felt that there was no way out.  

As an adult this abuse continued and worsened with Carla’s only coping mechanism seeming to be self-destruction. Until she found the much-needed support of domestic abuse professionals and the police who she had been so closed off to before.

 When Carla started forming her own adult relationships, she was so sadly so desensitised to violence and manipulation that she accepted it. Her next abusive relationship was with the father of her son, he would hit her, bleach her clothes, burn her and put her through, ‘emotional torture…He said he would hurt my family if I told anyone and made me feel like I couldn’t tell anyone’. And shockingly this wasn’t the ‘main’ instance of domestic abuse as Carla puts it. This was with the father of her daughter. ‘Even when I was pregnant he kicked me in the stomach and I gave birth to my daughter at six months’. Carla would never go ahead and press charges because he threatened to break his brother’s legs. He would often hit his own mum in front of Carla and hit her whilst her own son was clinging onto her legs. She talks about him dragging her by the hair, about playing constant mind games with her and disappearing for weeks at a time. ‘I was on edge whilst he was gone’. When he came back, he would often sexually abuse Carla. She talks about how he would humiliate her, smelling her underwear and accusing her of cheating. He would often force Carla to have sex with him and controlled her every move. ‘He didn’t want me speaking to my mum, he would say he had slept with friends to stop me from speaking to them’. ‘It was easier to cut them all off than to have the abuse. I felt so alone’.  

The impact of domestic abuse on the whole family

‘He was very jealous of my son’, says Carla. ‘If my son was in bed with me he would force him out’. Her abusers mum now has custody of her children after her children being removed by social services. Carla feels that she has never been supported by his mum. Carla also experienced a lot of gang violence because of living wth her partner. Their home was constantly attacked and this was another reason why the children were deemed to be unsafe in her home. 

‘I was trying to protect my children by not pressing charges. I covered for him because I was so scared of him. His mum would plead with me not to tell the police. She knew what I was going through as well, she knew he would beat me’. 

Carla’s children were on a protection plan and she was simply too scared to tell the police. Having witnessed what he was capable of she constantly worried for her life. ‘He would have killed me. He used to choke me until I couldn’t breathe, he would suffocate me, there’s no stopping someone like that’.  

Domestic abuse and social services

After Carla’s children were removed she felt like she had no support whatsoever. She turned to drugs as a way to escape her experiences and emotions. As a result of this, Carla went to prison and when she left her abuser was looking for her. During this time she had lost a number of family members and was understandably distraught. Her abuser found her one day and attacked her where there were witnesses. Again, Carla was too scared to press charges. It took another incident where she was attacked and tried to escape the home that someone saw him and called the police. It was a separate charge and not domestic abuse that finally led to him being arrested. Carla had always been too terrified to tell the police. Her abuser was prolific in the organised crime scene and he was involved in a lot of dangerous people. Carla has been raised to view the police negatively based on her past experiences from childhood with her mum. ‘Now I look at them and just think they’re just doing a job. It’s all clearer now’. 

Domestic abuse and drug misuse

Carla’s mental health had deteriorated so badly after her children were taken by social services. She has been taking anti-depressants from the age of 16 and so many traumas on top of one person really took a toll on her. After she left prison she says that she was determined to turn her life around. She really wanted to get her kids back in her life. This positivity was crushed when Carla found her mum passed way. A few months later she found a close friend who had overdosed. ‘I just lost it’, she says. At this point she stared using drugs again and entered another abusive relationship. This time is a blur to Carla, she was self-harming and had suicidal thoughts and says she had started taken her medication dangerously. A friend had tried to support her to stop taking drugs but she didn’t want to stop. Eventually she said she, ‘had enough’ and referred herself to Addaction stop. She is proud to say that she stopped  She was also referred to Ruby @ Turnaround whilst she was on probation after talking about her past and the impact this had on her mental health.  

Domestic abuse support

Carla explains how she talked to Shelley about things that she’d never talked about before. She opened up for the first time about her childhood and what she had experienced. Carla was at a point where she says she felt let down by support services. She felt like nobody understood her and there was nowhere to turn. ‘I realise now that it helps to talk’. ‘I was talking to Shelley every day at one point, now I feel like I can support myself’. Carla explains how far she has come. She is now in a stable relationship, she is living in a stable home and Is going to college. ‘I have never felt proper support like this before’. ‘I would ring Shelley before anyone. She helped me. She gave me all the advice I needed.’ ‘And then in counselling with Kim we’ve gone back to my childhood which has helped so much’. ‘Some people you just feel like you can open up to’. ‘Shelley is just such a warm person, you could feel she really wanted to help. You could tell that in her voice’.  

‘I still pinch myself now, and ask, is this real? How am I living this good life?’  

Carla is still, ‘fighting for her children’, and feeling more determined than ever do this now. She says she doesn’t know she would be now without the support from Ruby, especially during lockdown when there was an increased strain on her mental health. Carla is now drug-free, she is so focused on college and aspires to set up her own business in the futureShe didn’t know that she would get this practical advice from Ruby @ Turnaround and she is now so positive about the future ahead of her.  

Get domestic abuse support in Merseyside

For domestic abuse support you can contact our Ruby @ Turnaround team on 0800 688 9990. Monday to Friday: 9.00am- 10.00pm and Saturday and Sunday 11.00am – 5.00pm.   

Or by texting ‘Ruby’ to 60777.   

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