A boy who grew up suffering daily abuse at the hands of his own mother has shared his horrific story.
Craig (not his real name to protect his identity), from Yorkshire, said he received so many broken bones and serious injuries as a boy that he knew all the names of the nurses at his local hospital.
He was so abused he thought daily beatings were a normal part of growing up.
He explains: ‘For as far back as I can remember my mother was violent towards me. I was physically assaulted virtually every day of my childhood. If I got through a day without being hit to the floor or in pain from a slap then it was a good day. I thought it was normal to live the way I lived and to be punished the way I was punished.’
Now grown-up, Craig has had numerous tattoos to cover the scars given to him by his abusive mother (picture posed by model)
He added: ‘The injuries I sustained from my mother’s physical abuse were frequent and serious; burns, broken ribs, broken limbs. For my 11th birthday she put both my hands on the table and broke each finger with a hammer.
‘Another time she pressed a hot iron into my back. She told me she was punishing me for things I’d done wrong but I think she used to get a kick out of being abusive to me. The worse and more in pain she made me feel, the happier she seemed to be.’
Despite Craig regularly being hospitalised due to his injuries, his mother’s violence was not uncovered because she was ‘an expert liar’ and Craig was too afraid to tell the truth.
He said: ‘My mother would have an excuse for every injury; she was an expert liar. On one occasion, my mother told the nurses that I’d busted my head open by riding a bike down the house stairs. The truth was that she threw me down the stairs and a bike on top of me but I stayed silent because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.
‘When we had visitors to the house, she’d put on a loving mum act. She explained my bruises and broken limbs to family as me being clumsy. People believed her because she was a pillar of the community – she was well liked and very popular. No one could see behind the façade.’
Craig’s biological father left when he was born and his mother had a succession of boyfriends who were also abusive.
Craig recalls: ‘Growing up I had five different surnames as my mother moved from relationship to relationship. All the men in my mother’s life were the same – they had alcohol problems and would physically assault my mother and me when they were drunk.
‘My mother blamed their behaviour on me and I would get an extra beating off her to punish me for what they’d done to us. If they smacked her, she would smack me. I was like her personal punching bag and I think she took out the frustrations of her life on me.’
As well as physical violence, Craig was also subjected to emotional abuse which made him feel worthless.
‘My mother told me her life was ruined the day I was born,’ he said. ‘She said that everything that had gone wrong in her life was my fault and that she wished she had killed me when I was a baby.
‘The emotional abuse was cruel and constant. If I wasn’t being shouted and screamed at and called a mistake then I was being ignored. I was never shown any love.’
Christmas is meant to be a magical time for children but for Craig, it meant more emotional trauma and violence.
He said: ‘My first memory, when I was around four or five years old, is from a Christmas morning. I was made to sit and watch my older sister unwrap her presents and then I was told I didn’t have any presents to unwrap because I didn’t deserve any. I was sent upstairs to spend Christmas Day alone in my room without any food.
‘Another Christmas morning she slammed my head in the fridge door, breaking my nose.’
Craig has shared his shocking story as new figures released by the NSPCC’s Childline this week have revealed that calls to their counsellors increase in December.
In December 2013, their trained counsellors carried out almost 23,000 counselling sessions with children and young people on a huge range of subjects.
The most common reason for contacting ChildLine was family relationship issues – anything from worries relating to parents separating to arguments with family members and wanting to leave home.
In the same period, more than 1,600 children and young people contacted ChildLine feeling suicidal – a disturbing 38 per cent increase compared to December 2012 – and there was a 36 per cent increase in counselling sessions on the subject of low self-esteem and unhappiness.
In addition, in December 2013, ChildLine counsellors handled 776 counselling sessions where children mentioned feelings of loneliness, isolation or exclusion.
ChildLine also reported a 24 per cent increase in the number of counselling sessions on Christmas Day compared to December 2012, speaking to one child every four minutes on average.
The new figures coincide with the launch of the NSPCC’s Call for Help appeal to ensure its ChildLine service is able to offer support and hope to the thousands of children and young people expected to make contact this December.
It was this service that helped Craig and convinced him not to take his life when he was at his lowest ebb.
He recalls: ‘I called ChildLine for the first time the day after my 14th birthday. Someone had visited my school and given a talk about how ChildLine could help people going through abuse. I called four times before I was able to speak. I was so afraid of my mother finding out and what she’d do to me.
‘With ChildLine I heard a reassuring adult voice who wasn’t going to hurt me. I told them what my mother had done to me that day and they listened to me and didn’t call me a liar. I cried for about 20 minutes in that telephone box because for the first time in my life, I was told that what was happening to me was wrong.’
He added: ‘I’ve always wanted to say thank you to those voices on the other end of the phone. They don’t know it, but without them, I wouldn’t be here now. I know how close I came to ending it all – ChildLine was the only thing that pulled me back.
‘My message for a child or young person going through what I went through is please know that you’re not alone. Talk to someone and get help. Don’t go through it on your own because with help from other people, your abuse can be stopped.’
Craig finally became free of his wicked mother when he left home at 16 and joined the navy.
Now 32, he is now married with a daughter and is determined to put his past behind him.
He said: ‘I don’t like looking back on my childhood. I’ve tried to forget my past and what my mother did to me. Every tattoo I have covers a scar she gave me. The tattoos cover burn marks, surgical scars to repair broken bones and old wounds. I have over 30 tattoos on my body – I would rather see a tattoo than a scar.
‘I’m not in contact with my mother or other family members anymore. My family is now my wife and daughter who have shown me what love is. I’m determined to give my daughter all the things I didn’t have growing up. I make sure that every Saturday is our day where we spend time going out to museums or playing together. Through my daughter I feel like I’m having my childhood again, I’m trying to make up for lost time.’