This is a follow up to Hear me speak – Niamh’s story. 

Depression and darkness are a distant emotion, which I once associated with my grim past, but over one year on happiness is the only word I live for.

That night we left, was the strangest feeling, the feelings of happiness and relief but then having the feeling in my gut that I wasn’t going to return to this dark place, that had played a big role in my little life, was hurting me.

Returning from my Grandparents house after a brilliant Easter break and the only worry I had was what hair style to wear back to school. Dad had phoned mum, but he wasn’t at home. Again the pain was filtering back. When we got back home, I was like inspector Morse checking all of the bins for evidence that dad had been using drugs, but the only thing I found was empty cases of beer and lots of them.

Sitting in my bed that night I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. My stomach was in knots, it was like butterflies in my stomach and making me feel sick. I started to shake and found it difficult to catch my breathe. Lights beamed into my bedroom window. Dad stumbled in. Like always he was trying to pick a fight with mum. He was complaining that we hadn’t been in contact with him while we were away, then all I could remember was mummy asking him ’Do you love your kids?’. No reply. Next thing I know, he is shouting in mums face and went to hit mum again. I hear my brother running into the living room with a pool stick. I phoned my auntie, who came round and took dad away, but he took the keys with him, so I didn’t feel safe at all. I kept saying to mum ’I need to get out of here, I can’t stay here any longer’. We rang the police and my grandparents.

Knock, knock. We opened the door to the police. I felt safer then. Having to talk about what had happened in the past and that night, was upsetting. Even though the police said they would keep driving by to check our house, I still didn’t want to stay there. When my grandparents arrived they stayed up all night with mum and in the morning they were ringing this place called Women’s Aid. We got a place in the refuge and we began to pack most of our processions into suitcases. That’s the last I saw of my house.

Driving up the long lane to our new home, not knowing how long we would be there. Not knowing what lay before us. Closing the door behind us in the refuge with mummy in tears. The lady showed us to our new room filled with three single beds and a TV. My brother was angry and all I could do was hold it together for my family. While mummy was talking to the woman, a lovely lady came in and talked to me and my brother, she then returned with a galaxy cookie crunch and cola for us. This is when I felt better and knew these people were here to help.

Starting my new school on my first day was really weird, but all mummy did was cry because she was nervous for me. The child coordinator left me to school that day, and I was really excited as I wanted to meet new friends. I loved my class I was put in, the girls are similar to me, in that they love boys and make up and clothes. I felt for once that I fitted in and wasn’t putting on a fake smile. I was happy.

The refuge was so much fun, the other women were so lovely and one woman even came in every morning and sat and drank tea and ate toast. We all sat in the main room and watched the soaps and enjoyed each others company.

Six weeks later, we moved out into our new home as a family. Living in a new area was exciting as we were up the road from my grandparents, they made us feel better, even though they do moan a lot, but that’s just old age I guess.

We are still in close contact with Women’s Aid and we get a lot of support from them, that I am so grateful for. I meet the child coordinator whenever I need to discuss my feelings and this really helps me, to understand what had happened wasn’t my fault.

In September I had started a drama school in the area, which I always wanted to be involved in, but my dad wouldn’t drive me to. In November we did a production in a local theatre and I really enjoyed it. I have made many friends at drama and as we all are interested in the same hobby, it makes it so much easier to be myself.

In June, I did my drama grade, which I passed. This shows me that I am happier and more comfortable in myself and with life.

In December I started going out with my boyfriend. He makes me feel so much happier and allows me to be myself. I always said I would never go out with anyone, after the way my mum had been treated. Since I have been going out with him, I have changed my mind on men. I have learnt that not all men are like my dad. There are only a small population of evil men like him, but the rest of the world is full of loving and kind hearted people, especially men. Eights months on, were still going strong, and I’m even happier than I was before.

I sat my GCSEs in May and June, I actually believe I have done well, as a year ago I wouldn’t have had the strength to sit them. I felt after I sat them that a milestone had occurred, that I have moved up the ladder of happiness, yet again one more step.

When I enter my home now, I feel safe and happy, not like I did in the past. My home has a friendly and safe atmosphere that I enjoy living in and wouldn’t change it for the world. When I walk up to my home I smile, because this is were I want to be.

I am now looking forward, instead of looking back. I have so much to look forward to. I am getting ready to learn to drive and I have also applied for my first job. Even though I have lots of happy days, I do have those days that I feel down, but I never feel like life isn’t worth living.

Everyone has their down days. Life is like the waves, sometimes its up and sometimes it down, its natural. I always like to say if you didn’t have a down day, then you wouldn’t enjoy the good times. I don’t speak to my dad anymore, and I don’t feel much for him, I think I should move on, because the people who love me and care for me now a days, are in my life, the people who aren’t don’t matter anymore. I look forward to the future.

Niamh, 17 years old