I could hear him swearing, things breaking and my mum crying. My heart was pounding. I was angry and ashamed that the neighbours could hear everything. My step-dad had probably just come home from the pub with his mates. The fighting was always worse when he drank.
When I came in they were in the kitchen. My mum was crouched on the ground and had a cut over her eye. There was a broken ashtray on the floor. I shouted at my step-dad to stop and I ran to see if my mum was OK. My step-dad laughed and taunted me. “What’s a skinny kid like you going to do?!” My mum was crying and she told me to go to my room. When I wouldn’t go, my step-dad came and slapped me across the face so I fell onto the floor as well. My mum told me to leave and ring the police.
That’s what I did, even though I didn’t want to leave her alone with him. I ran to our neighbour’s. Luckily she was home. I phoned the police and told them about the fight. They knew our home. They’d been there lots of times before. They came by and arrested my step-dad. My mum had to go to hospital to get stitches. I helped her clean up the mess at home. We had peace for a few days, but then he’d always come back. I didn’t understand why mum would let him back in the house.
Last year my mum and my step-dad were fighting so much that I was unhappy all the time. My mate and I would pretend to go to school in the morning but then we’d just hang out in the park all day, sometimes drinking beers or smoking weed. I stopped caring about my coursework. I felt like nothing was going right. Life was just unfair and I’d been given a raw deal. I felt like running away, but I didn’t know where to go.
One day I was babysitting my little brother, but I was listening to my music really loud and wasn’t paying attention to him. He fell onto the glass coffee table and split his lip. There was blood everywhere: I was really scared. My mum had to take him to hospital when she got home. I felt terrible. I never wanted my brother to get hurt.
My mum and I had a big row – it wasn’t the first time I shouted at her and told her I hated my step-dad. I told her I hated her because she always let him back into our house. My mum said she was sorry and but she didn’t know where to go or what to do. I told her I wanted to things to change or I’d run away. I wanted to feel happy again. A few days later, when my step-dad was out at the pub, we all drove to a friend’s house a few hours away. That was the best day of my life.
Things aren’t easy, but my mum’s working again and we’re saving for a new home. I’m back in school and have stopped drinking – it didn’t help me anyway. I’ve made some new friends; I really like them. My mum seems much happier and is smiling more. I think she’s found a place where she can go to talk about the fights with my step-dad and what it did to our family. My little brother misses his dad, but I try to tell him that his dad was hurting our mum and that’s not OK.
At my new school I’ve seen some lads hit their girlfriends. When I see them, I get really angry again. It’s just not right. The girls don’t seem to care. The guys say the girls deserve to be hit. But I’ve seen what it did to my mum. I know there are no excuses for abuse. My mum didn’t deserve it. I want to do something about it. I’ve talked to my youth club about domestic violence and want to teach others about it.