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I was raised by my great uncle until I was around 5 years old; it was only then that I moved in with my mother. I lived with my sister who is three years younger than me and my father. My dad liked to drink. He still likes to drink. With drink came anger, venomous rage. He would use the belt on me if I was ever Ďnaughtyí or wipe his Ďwhiskersí over my face. Mum would turn a blind eye. He rarely remained sober but somehow held onto a job. On the occasional time he was sober, he would be the perfect father but soon the shakes would happen and he would get angry again. Once, he was so drunk, he did not notice my sister had stopped breathing and was still playing with her. My sisterís oxygen tank had cut out. His eyes would roll to the back of his head and I would look after him if mum had a sad day, which was often. Then, one day he left.
My sister, J, and I moved in to live with my motherís new partner, K. K had twins, a boy Ė C and a girl Ė N, a little bit older than me. My sister slept in the same room as my mum and K. I topped and tailed with N. Every night she would shake or cry silent tears. I didnít know why and would hug her. What upsets me the most is how much I loved K. He was the father I never had and I adored him. We would always do something as a big family. We would walk on the beach or play with the goats. Everything was perfect. Jís health had got better. I had started my third new school and enjoyed it.
One day, I had come home with my new brother and sister to find my mum sobbing in the kitchen. Her face was a mess. Her hair was on the floor. I ran and hugged her. I was pushed away and shouted at. This was my fault. N had started to tremble or was it my imagination? K came through the door with a table leg. I can remember running and standing in front of mum. C took N out of the room by her hand. I was hit with the piece of wood and so was my mum. She had tried to stop him.
I felt so angry and sad that I never protected my mum. To me, this violence was normal. I felt cheated that I expected something better. Then to feel the guilt, that someone like me deserves nothing better. This time it was N, looking after me and how it stayed for years. From an outsiderís point of view, K , was the best man on earth. A respectable fisherman whose wife ran off, leaving him to raise his kids alone and a nine year old girl. The next morning, I woke up to find a note from my mum telling me she would come back for me. She never did.
I held on to hope that I would never be torn from my mother again. I held on for so long. N would help with my loneliness and would never let me be alone. I canít tell you how strong our bond was. We started to know each otherís moves before we did them, which in the future became crucial. The violence in the house was worse. Each one of us beaten. C was often dragged outside and left in the yard until N would sneak him in. He would have strap marks up his back. If we couldnít sneak C back inside me and N would hide in the coal bunker in the yard to be near him.
One of Kís favourite ways to punish me was to lock me in a room with only water for days. Once I was locked in the bathroom and I was really ill. Because I kept being sick, I was held under the bath tub full of water until I couldnít breathe. Usually, N would get in trouble for trying to help me.
As I was sleeping, I noticed N wasnít there. Soon she returned crying. I hugged her and noticed she was bleeding. I tried to help as best as an eleven year old could. Even though, she kept promising me K would never hurt me like that, I still thought she meant being hit. One night, he came into our room. N just shook but pretended to be asleep, subtly putting her fingers to her lip to signal for me to do the same. It was too late, K had N up by the neck. Hitting her and hitting her. I screamed to stop and C came running. He was dragged out and locked in a room. I remember crying. She was in so much pain but was fighting tears. I can remember just watching, not doing anything, not saving her, not helping, as he began to touch her in inappropriate places. I keep thinking if I had done something, everything now would be different. I could tell it was hurting her. I couldnít get out of the room. I tried kicking him and biting him, just to be pushed away. Once he was finished, I remember him trying to hug me. He told me I had to sit on his knee and he told me I was the reason my mum had left. He began to do the same. His fingers travelling under my pjs, up and down my back, kissing my neck as he went under my knickers. He smelt of work. I just remember the things he kept saying and hearing C shouting. N had wet herself and was made to stand outside in just her underwear all night. We werenít to tell.
C assumed we had been hit and we never corrected him. That became a daily occurrence, sometimes in the same room as each other or taken at any time of the day. All N would do is apologise to me. We were lucky when K had the chance to spend a long time out on the sea. We would be free. We might not have enough food or know how to properly wash our clothes but these were such happy times. We spent as much time as we could away from the house. Teachers had given up on us and asked no questions. We all slept either in our Ďdení or together in the living room Ė it just felt safe. We would live in an imaginary world complete with a language. We would dream of ways to get rid of K.
When K was back, things would get worse, the violence , the abuse. I remember all three of us, kneeling with just our underwear on outside in the yard as it rains. The first person to twitch would have to hit, the person to the side with the belt. N had been so ill and could barely walk. Every time, her leg would collapse down. Me or C would be hit. She was shaking so much out of fear. Every time she faltered in doing it, she was hit. We would tell her it was okay. He would then go inside and drink. Yet he would still watch.
One day, K came into our room and dragged N away. Everything was silent. After a while, he returned N was nowhere to be seen. He took me into his room. She was tied around the ankles and her hands up. Material in her mouth. I canít talk about this properly but I was raped in front of her. This too became a regular thing.
K became bored easily. Now if N and I were in his room, there was a video recorder set up. Everything was filmed. I used to feel like I was watching the recording, this wasnít me, this wasnít happening. First, it started with a camera. He then wanted me and N to touch each other, we would refuse. When we refused, we would not be fed or forced to watch. He had made some device that would shock us, if we made no noises. He desperately wanted sound effects. Tears are streaming now, I canít talk about this part of my life yet. All I know is, I feel so dirty and ashamed. I hurt her and there are photographs that taunt every day now. They must be somewhere out there. I feel as bad as him. It was wrong and disgusting.
One day, K had gone to work on a long fishing trip. C decided we should watch a film. As us girls got ready, we came down to find C had punched the walls and trashed the house. We were scared. He was crying and crying. He had found a tape. He was so angry with what his father had done to his own sister and that we never said anything and it was happening while he was in the house. Once, he had calmed down, he told us to pack what we could carry. He wanted to go to the police but we refused. I just thought all of this was my fault and my mum would never want me. We took clothes, food and water. N of course needed her guitar and teddy. That was it, we never looked back at the house as we walked. I was fourteen.
We lived out for a while on the streets. We found shelter in doorways or near the prom of the beach. It was always us three. Together. We had no money and barely an education. C would beg for money, sometimes it would work. We had more luck, if we went out with the battered guitar singing. We would wash in public toilets and pinch things if we had to. It should never have been, but these were the best days. C had started to smoke drugs and was soon selling. He would always try to hide it from me and N.
Source: I never saved them.