13 and the colour green

Dedication: To all of the women and children that are fighting domestic abuse.

I witnessed domestic violence between my mother and her boyfriend every day from the age of 6 up until the age of 11. I witnessed brutal attacks, one time my mother actually stopped breathing. He was a very jealous man. He wanted me out the way as much as possible. He even resorted to breaking my dogs leg in a fit of rage. My mother became a victim of ‘cuckooing’ by a local gang and was introduced to drugs. Her boyfriend stole from them and my mother was kidnapped. We both had to go into protective living. I stayed with my nan for 2 months not knowing where my mother was or even if she was alive. The gang found my mothers boyfriend and beat him to an inch of his life. My mother was later given an ultimatum; Him or me. She chose me. After us he moved on to another family. Unfortunately those children weren’t so lucky. They all got split up by the care system. It later came to light that he was also a paedophile.

It has not been until these past couple of months that I have learned to accept what happened. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Confusion, anger and tears. I had to say goodbye to the innocent little girl that was once me. At a crucial time when my child brain was meant to be developing and understanding the world, I had to skip that part completely. I was quickly brought into an adults world. After it all ended I had to build a whole new foundation and create a whole new person. It was almost like Norma Jean transforming into Marilyn Monroe or Beyonce becoming her alter ego Sasha Fierce. Before this, I had no identity. At the age of 6 I was just starting to find my place in the world which was then quickly taken from me.

It wouldn’t be until I was 17 that I would have to come face to face with my mothers abuser again. She came home one night in a complete drunken state with him in tow. I looked him dead in the eyes and told him that I was 17 not 7 anymore and I was not afraid of him and he couldn’t hurt us anymore. The police ended up escorting him away. My mother was always encouraging of me and always told me she believed in me and to believe in myself. That I am so grateful for. I am so grateful for life. Every day I would wake up and wonder if that day would be the day I died. I think the way I got through it was fight or flight. My body chose fight. I had a best friend at the time who I am still best friends with to this day. Her mother was also tackling her own demons at home, so our friendship grew closer. My mother ended up having a hard time coming to terms with dealing with what happened. She is unfortunately a shell of person he once was. The song by Jessie J – I Miss Her sums it up perfectly. She is still breathing but she is not really living.

I can now honestly say that hand on heart I am at peace with myself. I feel so calm. I am not angry or frustrated. I am at one with the universe. I believe everything happens for a reason. My reason is so that I can now speak out and help others. You are not alone. Unfortunately there are hundreds of women and children in the same situation as you. Did you know that according to the crime survey for England and Wales for March 2023, The police flagged 889,441 recorded offences as domestic abuse-related, and that’s not including the offences that go unreported. For people that have struggled or are still in that dark place, there is a light at the end of that very long tunnel.
Photo credit: Photo provided by the storyteller.

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Ruby Cannon

My name is Ruby Cannon and I am a survivor or child abuse. I campaign for change in mental health and domestic violence against children. I have a brand new podcast called She Lived The Life She Loved which discusses these issues.