As mentors, youth workers and professionals we are taught to detach, to not take our work home with us to drop your caseload on a Friday evening and not pick it up again until Monday morning. This advice is bollocks (excuse my language) but I find it absolutely impossible. I have sleepless nights worrying about my young people. I answer the phone to them in my free time despite my boyfriend’s objections to this but sometimes I’m the only person they have. I laugh with them and cry with them and sometimes just sometimes they tell me something that shatters my heart and I find it absolutely impossible to not take it home with me.
The names in the below post have been changed to protect the identity of the young people we work with.
Courtney is one of the most loving, caring, strong willed, determined, confident young people I have ever has the pleasure to mentor. The strength of this 15 year old is something I admire and respect massively. When I mentioned to Courtney I had started a blog she asked almost immediately if I would document part of her story. She told me she wanted to tell people why she went into care and that she felt the time was right to let things go.
This is Courtney’s story.
My mum was always abusive as far as I know she abused my eldest sister who couldn’t cope so left home at fifteen , then she abused my brother Neil then my little brother Kyle and me . Alcohol and shagging random men were the only things that were important to her. Feeding us washing us even getting us to school on time wasn’t a priority for her she just didn’t care. She didn’t abuse us all the time don’t get me wrong but you could always tell when it was coming , the tension in the house would build up she would have had a row with Kyle’s dad or spent all the rent money on drink and be fuming and take it out on us. I’d warn Kyle I would tell him to put loads of layers on so the beating didn’t hurt that bad he was only little he didn’t deserve it.
I remember one night the last night I ever let it happen I was eleven I think maybe ten. Id split up from school for the six weeks holiday to be fair it didn’t really matter because we barely went to school anyway but that’s not the point. Mum had been drinking since first thing that morning so by the time we got home could barely talk but that didn’t stop her from phoning Kyle’s dad and screaming racist abuse at him down the phone. I heard it all , I warned Kyle as usual but this time I told him to pack a bag and throw his shoes out the window, I didn’t have a plan I just knew I was going to do something.
Mum came into the bedroom grabbed me by the hair threw me into the living room told me to sit on the sofa and not move and that her row with Kyle’s dad was all my fault . Then done the same to Kyle. Twelve hours we sat on that sofa twelve whole hours no food no drink we couldn’t even go to the toilet so we both wet ourselves. Murray, I know you are wondering how I know its twelve hours I know how your brain works, we had a clock on the wall it used to ding on the hour and I counted twelve dings. Kyle started crying I tried to shut him up but he wouldn’t, Mum hated him crying she came into the room and just started slapping him out of control slapping him round the face. I jumped on her I didn’t know what else to do I just wanted to protect Kyle. Mum picked up a golf club and swung it at me that night she broke my eye socket my nose and my jaw but she wasn’t done. She threw Kyle out the house said she didn’t want no black man’s son living with her and locked the front door. He screamed and screamed for me and I couldn’t get to him she wouldn’t let me get to him she just laughed. I cannot even tell you the pain my face was in I literally felt like someone had got a pump and blown my head up. Eventually she let me go to bed.
The joke, god knows if she thought I’d be able to sleep with Kyle sobbing outside my window but by this point I had a plan well sort of. I threw our bags out the window put Kyle’s shoes on we had left out earlier grabbed his hand and ran. It was about three in the morning I’ve never been so scared in my life but I didn’t know what else to do. We ran through Lewisham up Brownhill Road and to my sisters by Grove Park. My sister didn’t even wait to hear what had happened she just phoned the police. Within the week we were found a care placement. Care is shit really shit but complete strangers have shown me more love than my mum ever did. It’s mad really maybe she just wasn’t meant to be a parent. I don’t know.
Courtney finished her story and we were both close to tears. I asked her if she thought her mum ever loved her and she replied “she loved abusing me”.