I’m not that old but I feel like so much has happened to me already. My dad used to hit my mum when I was little, but she left him a few years ago. I was much younger then, but I remember that we lived in a refuge for a while.
There were lots of other children there with their mums. It was sad leaving dad – I wanted my mum and dad to stay together. But I didn’t like the fighting. It made me cry all the time. They would fight about me a lot – who would drop me at school or take me to the doctor. I always tried to be a good girl so they would stop fighting. It didn’t help though. Before we moved to the refuge dad kicked mum so hard in the tummy that she was in hospital for a while.
Now we live with mum’s new boyfriend – I like him. He’s really nice to me. But my dad still wants to see me. I’m confused about whether I want to see him. Sometimes I miss him. He always plays funny games with me and he makes me laugh. But sometimes I don’t want to see him at all because he shouts and that reminds me of when he and mum had those fights. Things keep changing but right now I see him every other week in a special place called a contact centre.
I like that better than having to spend a whole weekend with him. When I did that, I would get these really bad tummy aches all the time. And I had bad dreams. I heard my mum telling a friend that she thinks that was because I didn’t want to go to my dad’s house after school. The truth is, I wanted to stay home with my mum because sometimes I’m afraid that she could get hurt again while I’m away. But I never told anyone that. Now that we live with her new boyfriend I feel much safer.
My dad lives with my uncle. I like my uncle; I remember when he took me to the cinema for the first time – it was loads of fun. But when I used to stay with them all weekend, my uncle came into my room at night in the dark. He whispered in my ear and touched me in private places. I wasn’t sure if it was OK that he was hugging me like that in bed, but I didn’t like it. I wanted to tell him to go away and stop, but I was afraid to.
My uncle told me not say anything to anyone – he said it was our special secret. He said he missed his own daughter so much and that he loved me. I tried to tell my dad once, but he wouldn’t listen. He told me my imagination was running away with me. I felt ashamed – maybe he was right? I also felt bad for my uncle not being with his daughter; maybe he was just lonely? I didn’t tell my mum because I didn’t want her to get worried about more things. She seemed so sad already.
I write down all the things that happen to me and all the things I’m thinking and feeling in my diary. That helps me stay strong. Maybe one day I’ll share it with mum, but not right now. I think if I ever have to stay with dad overnight again then I’ll tell her everything, because I like feeling safe, like now, and I don’t want my uncle to touch me again.