When I think about my life, my head is all messed up, I get flashbacks and the feeling of something missing. It happens all the time.

Abuse was the thing in my childhood.

Mum and Dad kept leaving home and coming back again. I was first sexually abused by an uncle and Dad went ballistic but nothing got done. Mum got pregnant by another man. On one occasion Dad dumped my sister and me with social services and Mum had to come and collect us.

We found ourselves living with Mum and her boyfriend and he abused, first Mum and then me and my sister. I can’t remember well but when my sister couldn’t go wee he accused me of abusing her. I was nine and she was three and I was so frightened that although I hadn’t done anything I admitted it, hoping that it would go away. The police were in there too. That was the day that really messed up my life.

From then on it was children’s homes. In the first one I felt more secure than I had in my own home and didn’t want to go back for weekends but when I moved to a home for older children, I was abused again. Every age and change of home brought new habits- smoking at 14, sniffing gas at 16 and with them psychotic attacks.

I left care at 18 for a B&B, completely unprepared for the world outside. By 19 I had fallen in with a group of prostitutes who got me straight into heroin and crack cocaine. My fears around what happened with my sister continued to mess my head and still do to this day. Along the way I had realised that I was gay. I went out with a woman for twelve months to try to cover it up but the drug habit took me into selling my body, burglary and shoplifting. I wasn’t very good at some of these and spent a lot of time in custody.

By the time I came here two years ago, I had been locked up and sectioned for psychosis many times and with the past killing my mind I was out of control.

People tell me I am stubborn. They are right. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be here. I refused to take the drugs which are everywhere around here and I’ve been clear for seven months now. I’ve got a job working with old folks with dementia for four days a week and I’m really good at it- it satisfies me. In a local church I met my partner, who has helped me financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And I have a support worker who has stood beside me through it all and in whom I have complete trust.

I came into this place, desperate and after an overdose. My Mum and brother-in-law have died along the way and my sister is in prison, the fears and flashbacks are still with me but I am moving on with my life and looking forward to being in my own place and with the possibility of paid work.

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