Survivor Stories

Strength Insight Inspiration

James’ Story

I grew up in a domestically abusive household. This lasted from as far back as I can remember to when I finally left home as an adult.

There was always an uneasy feeling in the home. We always had to be quiet if my Dad was asleep.
My Dad would get drunk, my Mum would get drunk and they would start to shout and fight and argue with each other. This would sometimes turn physical between them. When I was younger, it would result in my father assaulting my Mother. One more than one occasion, she was badly hurt.
One time, she tried to hit him with a metal pan and then he hit her back with it and fractured her cheek bone.

Plates, cups and other items were smashed in the home. My Dad was verbally abusive towards me, my sister and my brother. He was always putting my Mum down. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it or ask my friends to stay over.

In time, I became old enough and big enough to stand in between them. I started to protect my Mum. All this did though was allow her to then become aggressive towards my Dad. I would be restraining him from attacking her and she would be trying to hit him. I would then have to make sure she went to bed, then make sure that my siblings were OK, then make sure that my Dad was OK. This was from when I was 15 until I left home.

My sister and brother both left home at 16. They do still have a relationship with our parents, but don’t see them often. We have all struggled with relationships over the years. I can be quite detached at times and not seem to be bothered when there is something worrying happening for me and my wife.

I struggled with some behaviour issues when I was younger. All three of us were bullied at school. My brother has struggled with addiction problems and I used cannabis on a daily basis from 15 until I was 28. I found that it helped with dealing with the stress and worry about my Mum and my Dad.

I didn’t know that there was support for victims until I was an adult. I accessed some counselling support from the GP was I was 21 and also accessed counselling support from university when I was 30. Both times, I found that it helped to talk. The counselling from both times lasted for over 6 months. I found that it offered the skills I needed to work though the issues with my parents and how best to live with them.

I am now married to a wonderful woman who understands and is very supportive. I have good friends, whom I have been best friends with since I was 13 so they understand and have been there for me.

I have a good relationship with my Mum and my Dad. I have learned to accept that I cannot change them, or help them as they do not want to change. I can still be there for them and support them but it is on my terms and when I choose.

I became a social worker and I have been able to explore different aspects of working with domestic abuse and the impact that it has on victims, children and the perpetrators of domestic abuse.