My earliest memory of my mam was with blood all over her face. Throughout us growing up she was in violent relationships so this was normal for me and my brothers. Our lifestyle was chaotic – I lived in 33 houses and went to 27 schools before I was 13.
I had low self-confidence as a teenager and problems with behaviour. When I was in care I got into the wrong crowd and from the age of 14 I was sexually exploited by older men.
I ended up living in a tent over the Newport bypass in Middlesbrough. I met a lad who took me to where he lived and the first six months things were fine and I fell pregnant. When I lost the baby he became extremely violent.
My first daughter to him was taken into care. I was pregnant with my second daughter when my social worker got the police involved. They gave me a choice – either move into a refuge or risk losing my second child when she was born. She was too important to me so I chose to move into a refuge.
While at the refuge, Nacro SWITCH* knocked on my door and asked me to meet the other residents. Terri, my support worker from SWITCH, has been my rock. She got me on to an English and maths course at Nacro education and I also did a youth work course. SWITCH helped me to move from the refuge into Nacro housing which gave me more independence.
I want to use my own experience to do outreach work and help children in domestic violence situations. I want my kids to grow up to be strong, independent women and proud of me as a mother. Nacro has totally changed my life.
*Nacro SWITCH Project supports women in the community and home in Tees Valley.