Zuni’s story

Zuni, 17, witnessed domestic violence at home then was hit by her own controlling boyfriend…
 

“From the age seven to 13, I was abused by my step-dad. In the beginning we got on well but he would shout all the time and scare me. He occasionally slapped my mum but before long he was beating her up.
 
…I had problems at school
 
I had a lot of problems with school while this was going on. I was often covered in bruises from my stepdad and felt embarrassed about what was happening at home. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. When I was 14 I started going out with a 17 year-old boy – we were together whenever we could be and when we were apart we were constantly on the phone to each other.
 
…he slapped me in front of his friends
 
After a while he became very controlling about what I wore, who I spoke to and who I was friends with. He used to take my phone and read my text messages and call log. Once, he slapped me in front of his friends because he said I ‘answered him back’. Because I had seen this happening to my mum, I thought it was normal, but when I asked my friends if this had happened to them they said it hadn’t. I knew something wasn’t right.
 
…I took an overdose
 
Eventually everything got too much for me and I took an overdose. I was rushed to hospital. My boyfriend never came to see me even though he knew what had happened, and I finally realised that the relationship had to end, so after this I stayed away from him. He still sometimes texts me horrible things, but now I ignore it. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I want to be with someone because we like each other, someone who respects me and who wouldn’t want to hurt me.
 
…ask a friend for help
 
I was lucky to leave but others might not be. If you think your boyfriend is treating you badly don’t stick around to find out how bad it gets. Ask a friend for help, a teacher, or anyone you think you can confide in because the abuse won’t just go away. Everyone deserves a life free from abuse.”