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voice of youth

My story

My name is Sarah and I am 19 years old. I would like someone to listen to my story.

I first went into care when I was 10. I was the eldest of eight children. My parents were both 19 when I was born, and that’s when the trouble started. My dad tried to drag us into his religion, which was different to my mum’s. By the time I was 5, she still would not join. He started to throw her around, beat people up, drink, steal and stop others from seeing us. By the time I was 6, my mother had had enough. She tried to take me with her, but I was stuck with my dad. There were six of us by then. My mother soon came back with a social worker and tried to get custody. It went through the courts, but she wasn’t allowed. My dad got us.

We moved when I was 8. My dad depended on me to be a mother and he soon raped me. His best mate and brothers did the same until I was 11 years old. Then we moved in with my dad’s girlfriend and young daughter. Everything was great until I opened my mouth about my real mum. My dad and his girlfriend beat me black and blue. I couldn’t walk, talk, sleep or sit down.

When I was 10, I had to move school and I hated it so much. I lost my best friend and my school friends. A few months later, I moved schools again. I went to the same school as my brothers and had to make sure they were home by 4 o’clock. If not, I was sent to bed with nothing to eat or drink. I had to sleep on the top bunk and I hated it because I’m scared of heights.

I got sick and tired of being the one in trouble. I weighed so little and looked like a bag of bones. Everyone would ask about it. Once, when my dad was working, I made tea for everyone. I stole for it – I didn’t mean to, but I was starving. I was beaten so much that I nearly went to hospital. In the morning, everyone else went to school. A social worker and police woman came to take me away. It was my last day at junior school, when we were to have had a water fight and maypole dance. I missed it and, to this very day, I hate my dad because of it. That day, I had to go to hospital and different places I’d never been to before. I was so scared. I went into foster care, but my dad managed to see me a little and eventually I went back home. By then, I was nearly 15.

I was soon back in care. I went into a children’s home with 8 of my brothers, but my other brothers and sisters went to different places. I kind of loved it in the children’s home. There was a TV, music box and pool room. I felt good and played with my brothers in a massive garden. We stayed together for three months.

Next, I had to move back to my foster parents and then on to a children’s home for girls. I was there for over a year. I always did a runner, but never got caught. Sometimes, I would stay out. I wanted to live back with my family. Everyone had gone home except me.

I then decided that I wanted to see my mum and family. They came to see me and I found out that I had a sister. I met my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They were so good to me, but my mother did not want me. Like my dad, she had not wanted me at birth.

I moved again, going to live with my grandparents for two years. When problems occurred, I moved back to foster parents. I hated it so much. I ran away, played up, went out, etc. I was so naughty that I was made to move. I spent some time living with other members of my family before deciding that I needed my independence.

I love these members of my family, and still see them. I sometimes stay over with them and we go places together. They are the best thing that happened to me. I make time to see them all, as well as my friends. My best friend, Sarah, has been excellent. She’s such a good help to me.

I moved to a hostel when I was 17 and that’s where I’m living today. Over all those years, I moved 11 times. I went to many different schools, but still managed to go to college for 8 years. I am now on a training course and trying to make a career as a dancer.

From Who Cares? the UK's national magazine for young people in the care system. For information about this magazine contact Who Cares? Kemp House, 1520160 City Road, London EC1V 2NP