My experience growing up as a child was one of terror, despair and hopelessness resulting from being the victim of constant abuse and neglect. My life revolved around an endless cycle of traumatic events.
The earliest and possibly most destructive of these events was back in 1965, when I was about two and a half years old, and I was wrongly blamed for causing my brother’s permanent disability. He had an accident and had 70-80% burns, which in those days was life threatening, and he was scarred and partly disabled for life. That day I lost my best friend and my older brother, who never forgave me. And sadly, the story of what happened to him - and my involvement - was probably untrue.
From that day on I was shunned by family and neighbours who constantly claimed I should be put in a home for bad children, and finally they made me believe them. It was a violent household. I saw my dad batter my mum. I also suffered at the hands of my family, especially my father and brother who threatened to kill me.
I was sexually assaulted - my perpetrator gained power over me because they knew nobody cared. This added to my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and further encouraged my view of myself as being bad and needing to be punished. In a last ditched attempt to salvage my life, I threw myself into my education in the hope that I could gain a good career and escape my world of torment. But I was abused and humiliated by a teacher and the next year I was absent from school playing truant for almost the whole year.
I became involved in petty crime, drugs and alcohol abuse and eventually acts of violence. When I eventually returned to school, I portrayed myself as a tough guy in order to stop others from laughing at me. I became the most disruptive and anti-social pupil in the school. After many acts of violence, absconding and assaults on staff, I was expelled.
Alone and angry, I found myself getting involved in gangs in order to feel accepted and gain attention which I had lacked. My behaviour became more and more destructive and unmanageable, leading to periods in detention centre and prison.
Eventually cracks began to appear in my fragile world and I was propped up with illicit and psychiatric drugs as the years of trauma began to haunt me. My doctor kept prescribing me anti-depressants and Valium, and was very impatient particularly when I had recurrent panic attacks.
My self-destructive behaviour continued and contributed to the loss of both my children. This resulted in suicide attempts, thankfully unsuccessful.
Shortly after this, several unexplained events occurred which eventually resulted in me becoming a Christian. However I found the practicality of this difficult as some elements of the church were not happy with my past.
However, I recovered from drug addiction by doing a cold turkey detox and, with a new faith, I found myself learning to unravel and deal with my previous life events. It was like undoing a jigsaw and putting it back together.
I wanted to keep on learning and developing as I now had hope and self-belief but, despite all my life skills, I ran into trouble as I had no qualifications. In 1996 I tried to train to be a nurse. I’d never sat an exam before in my life but I got over 80%. However, my initial place was withdrawn because of my background.
Later I applied again and the university eventually conceded and let me train, although they believed I did not have the academic ability to pass the course. Thankfully I proved them wrong and three years later I was one of five to get a degree with first class honours.
It took 20 years to be accepted and sometimes it feels I still have to jump through hoops. That being said, I believe that everyone has potential within them and can rise up and become the person they want to be and achieve the things they want to. One of my children who was taken from me returned when I won custody of them in court. Now I am married and have three children, all doing well.
Never give up, never give up, because we are all unique and special and have good things to offer this world.