Category Archives: Abuse

It Makes Me Angry That Anyone Still Has To Fight This Battle

Mental illness is different from many other illnesses, and for one sad reason – because people just don’t accept that it’s real, or worthy of the term ‘illness’. It’s all in your head, you can think your way out, I have bad days and I get over them, you should too.

I cannot think my way out of my illness any more than someone in a wheelchair can think their way out of it. What goes on in my head is just as real as what happens to the body of a diabetic or a cancer patient, and at times it can be just as crippling.

I am giving my life my best shot, and every time someone discounts mental illness for any reason, it hurts me. Every time someone tells me that I need to get over myself, that I’m being selfish, that I need to harden up, or that I need to stop doing this to the people I love, I know of one more person not to trust. I will think less of them for thinking less of me over something that is out of my control.

I did not choose to be abused. I did not choose to have my mind crumble under the pressure of a life that didn’t do me many favours. I’m making do with a damaged mind. And I do not deserve to be discounted because my scars are not physical.

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Screaming For Help

When I was fourteen years old, I tried to kill myself for the first time. My home life was so intolerable that I just wanted out. I couldn’t cope with it any more. I’d heard from a friend that a whole pack of paracetamol could kill you, so I swallowed a full pack of it at my school play cast afterparty.

My boyfriend of the time knew something was wrong, and he managed to get out of me what I’d done. So I pretended to throw them back up, and he let me go to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, he’d stayed the night with me to keep an eye on me. I started throwing up repeatedly, and he called his dad and got me to the hospital. I was very sick.

The only clear memory I have of that bit is that I begged and begged not to have my father and stepmother called. I didn’t win that fight – I was a minor after all – and when they came down to the hospital I begged for my boyfriend to stay because I didn’t want to be alone with them. Eventually he left – I don’t remember when or why.

My only other clear memory of that time is terror. Terror that my stepmother would do something to me in revenge for me messing up her day. Never mind that I was very unwell, my only fear was that I wouldn’t die and that she would punish me in some way.

At some point I was sent home, and I think it was maybe a week before sI was back to anywhere near normal. And then, the letter came from CAFS.

CAFS is the child, adolescent, and family service at the hospital. They deal with child mental health and abuse, among other things. They also have a very similar acronym to CYFS – Child, Youth, and Family Services – our child protection agency.

When that letter came, my stepmother went nuts at me for getting CYFS involved with our family. It took her a while to figure out it was the hospital, not the dreaded child services. And even then, she was still furious at me for bringing outsiders into our lives.

The CAFS interview was one of those moments where I have no idea why we weren’t saved in some way. It was a family interview, they never talked to me alone, and through the entire interview my stepmother held my wrist, digging her nails into me every time I had to answer a question. I lied through my teeth, I told them it was an accident, that I never meant to hurt myself. Inside I was screaming ‘save us, please save us’ – my little brother and I were struggling to hold it together in the face of her abuse. But I lied heroically, because she was there and I was so scared.

If they’d just talked to me alone, made me safe so I could tell, I would have told. Maybe there would have been something done. I will forever regret lying that day and not saving my little brother and me from more abuse. But I was so afraid of her that I couldn’t tell.

No fourteen-year old ‘accidentally’ swallows a whole packet of paracetamol. They had to know something was wrong. But they never gave me a safe way to tell, and so I didn’t. I couldn’t. I will always feel guilt for not telling. But I’m not sure they would have done anything, even if I had said something.

Asking For Help

I was abused as an adolescent. Even when it was happening, I knew it wasn’t normal, but I was scared to ask for help. Reading this¬†reminded me of the only time I ever tried to get help.

I was maybe fourteen. I’d done¬†something wrong the night before (I don’t remember what, but I think it had something to do with washing my clothes) and it had lead to a beating. This wasn’t common – most of the abuse was psychological and emotional – but it did happen now and then. I ended up with a line of bruises on each side of my spine, where my stepmother punched me. She was smart – she never hit where it would be seen while I was wearing clothes.

What she didn’t know was that I was one of the few girls my age that wasn’t ashamed of their body, and so I would just strip down and then kit up for PE. That day, I lifted my shirt over my head and squeaked a bit in pain. A friend who was changing beside me looked over and saw the bruises, and that was it. I was taken to see the assistant principal, and made to tell her what happened.

The next bit it a blur. My father was called in, and he made excuses for my stepmother. My little brother was picked up from school, by one of my teachers I think. There was a lot of fuss going on . . . and then nothing. We were taken home by my father. Nothing further happened.

I was terrified. It had taken all my strength to tell, and nothing had come of it. And now my stepmother was furious. She didn’t beat me again, but for weeks afterward she would terrorise me in whatever ways she could come up with.

You’re supposed to tell when bad things go on in your life. If you tell a teacher they’re supposed to make you safe. But no-one made me and my little brother safe.

I’m left with PTSD from what happened to me in the five or six years between when my father married and when my stepmother threw me out. I don’t remember much of it, but sometimes, I’ll do something, or see something, or smell something, and it all just comes back. It paralyses me.

I asked for help. I did what I was supposed to do. But no-one took it seriously enough to make me safe.