As a kid, I mostly felt pretty much on my own.

My home life was chaotic, violent and insecure, with no relatives looking out for me; and at school I was bullied and treated harshly by the teachers so I was unhappy there too. I longed to be an adult and in charge of my own life.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my family, I just couldn’t rely on them to look after me, and when they were abusive I didn’t know who to turn to. But I hoped some kind adult would come along and rescue me.

Eventually there was a teacher who was nice to me so I told her and she made sure I got help. It was such a relief to be listened to and not to have to keep it all a secret any more.

Looking back to those early years, there were a couple of things that got me through.

The first was my imagination into which I could escape through drawing, writing stories and playing happy families with my dolls. I looked after them the way I wished my parents could for me, and through my dolls I felt loved and cared for.

The other thing that helped, no matter how bad things got, was that I never lost hope that one day my life would be happy.

Now I’m 46 – old enough to be a granny! – and life has been brilliant for many years. I look back on the girl I was and feel so proud of her for sticking in against the odds and being brave enough to trust that teacher and reach out for help.

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